Black couple purchase property-woman holding keysBuying a property as a couple can be an exciting time, but it is not without its stresses. Thankfully, a good property solicitor or a licensed conveyancer can make that process more manageable.

In 2019, there were over 350,000 first-time buyers in the UK. If you are looking to buy your first property with your spouse, or even if this is the second time you are buying a property, you are likely to need professional help navigating the process.

Conveyancing, referring to the process by which legal documents are prepared to ensure the lawful transfer of ownership of a property from one party to another, is a vital part of any home-buying process.

At Foys, our property and conveyancing solicitors based in South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire are here to help you buy your dream home, making sure that you have a stress-free move. In this article, we are going to briefly explain the conveyancing process and talk about what you should be aware of before you agree to buy a property in England or Wales as a couple.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing refers to the transfer of the legal title from the seller to the buyer. When you buy a house, you engage a conveyancer or a property solicitor to ensure that the seller and you exchange ownership of the property you are buying legally.

At Foys, our conveyancing solicitors will assist you with:

  • Drafting the contract, which describes the terms and conditions of the sale agreed upon by you (the buyer) and the seller.
  • Exchanging contracts when both parties are satisfied with all the terms of the contract before committing to a transaction. The exchange will set a date for the legal completion of a transaction.
  • Handling completion day – the most critical day of any property transaction, which involves overseeing the transfer of funds to pay the balance of the purchase price and the releasing of keys.

Throughout the process of a transaction, your conveyancing solicitor will serve as your legal representative, negotiating on your behalf, guiding you through every step while continually updating you on the progress.

Five things you should know before buying a property

Before buying a property, especially if this is your first time and you are buying it with your spouse, it pays to know the following points.

1. Work out the true cost of buying

When you buy a house, be prepared to have some money set aside to pay for costs associated with the purchase such as:

  • Valuation fee
  • Legal fee
  • Mortgage arrangement fee
  • Survey
  • Stamp duty
  • Home repairs
  • Home furnishings

2. Find a mortgage that best suits you

It is essential that you find out how much you can borrow before you start looking for a house. When talking to a mortgage company, you are likely to be presented with many types of mortgages. Do your homework before signing on the dotted line.

A fixed rate mortgage allows you to pay the same interest rate throughout the length of the terms. The advantage is that you know exactly how much you need to pay each month and you can budget accordingly. The disadvantage is that when the interest rates fall, you won’t benefit.

A variable rate mortgage, on the other hand, means the interest you pay can change at any time – you could be paying more or paying less, depending on the interest rate.

Apart from these two, there are other types like standard variable rate, discount mortgages, tracker mortgages, capped rate mortgages, to name but a few.

3. Beware of risks

When you view a property, it is important to look beyond the décor and check for damp, leaking roof and faulty electrical wiring. The house should also not be in a floodplain or at risk of subsidence (when the ground under the property sinks or collapses).

A property chain, referring to a line of buyers and sellers linked together as each is buying or selling a property from a person in the chain, tends to progress slowly and cause sleepless nights. The idea of a chain is that it gives the seller the money needed to buy their next property but a weak line in the chain can spoil your purchase. First-time buyer is usually chain-free. If you need to sell your current place to buy somewhere, look for a property with a short upward chain or even chain-free, like a probate property or a new-build home.

Fraud is also another issue that can impact the purchase of a property. For more on property fraud, and how to mitigate this risk, read our article on property fraud.

4. Draw up a Declaration of Trust

A Declaration of Trust or Deed of Trust is a legal document outlining the financial arrangements between joint property owners and/or anyone else with a financial interest in the property. In the event that the property is sold, you and your spouse know exactly how much each person would get from the property.

For instance, if you borrow money from your parents as deposit and your spouse does not contribute to it, and subsequently you pay 80% of the mortgage and contribute 80% to its maintenance, then you need a Declaration of Trust to protect your investments, reducing any disagreements in the future. In this case, the document will clearly state how much you will get if your spouse wants to buy you out or if the property is sold.

5. Your choice of conveyancer matters

The proficiency and diligence of a conveyancing solicitor can make an impact on your move.

Inexperienced conveyancers may not know how to react when unexpected circumstances arise and they could be overworked too, handling many transactions at one time without support from a team of colleagues.

A good conveyancer knows when to speed up a deal if you are in a hurry or slow it down if you need more time. This is particularly true if you are involved in the property chain as your conveyancer (and estate agent) need to be in agreement with all parties over the key dates and arrangements. Internal support is also key. At Foys, we have over 45 years of experience in property and conveyancing. We also have a team of trusted colleagues who can step in to ensure the process goes smoothly should your conveyancer go on holiday or off sick.

Does any solicitor provide conveyancing services?

When it comes to conveyancing, you can either get a conveyancing solicitor or a licensed conveyancer.

Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), a conveyancing solicitor is a professional who specialises in property law. Their sound knowledge comes in handy when the buying process uncovers a few legal issues.

Regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), a licensed conveyancer is a specialist who has trained only in property law. They can be a CLC Technician (entry level) or a fully qualified CLC lawyer.

At Foys, we have a team of solicitors and conveyancers working together to assist you with your property purchase.

Qualified conveyancing solicitors at Foys can help

At Foys, our property and conveyancing solicitors are members of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), dedicated to upholding standards and credibility in conveyancing practices. We pride ourselves on the quality of our conveyancing and property services.

We handle new builds, freehold, leasehold, and property under the government HTB scheme. If you are buying a council house, the council will first determine whether or not you are eligible. Once it is clear that you can buy, our team can step in to assist you with the transaction.

We work closely with you and help you purchase your dream home. Our personal touch ensures that we will help you break down the lingo so you understand the buying process better. With over 45 years of experience in all areas of property law and thousands of property sales under our belts, we have the experience and people power to handle many situations.

To get started, take advantage of our FREE initial consultation where we will listen to your specific needs, guide you through your options and be upfront with you about the kind of costs you should expect. In addition, we can assist you to set up a Declaration of Trust, making it easier for you and your spouse to receive the appropriate portion of the profit when you sell the house in the future.

To get access to our expert legal advice and talk to one of our conveyancing solicitors today, simply call your local Foys Solicitors office for your FREE initial consultation.

Our offices are:

This was initially written in 2018 and updated on 04-Mar-2020.

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