4. Legal matters

You've found the ideal home. You've applied for a mortgage. All sorted? Well, not quite. You still need the help of a solicitor.

2 men looking at a piece of paper

Your property could be repossessed if you don't keep up your mortgage repayments.

Your solicitor will conduct several searches on your behalf to make sure your property and the land around it doesn't contain any nasty surprises such as pending planning applications.

It's vital that you find out all you can about a property before you buy, and this is why your solicitor has an important role. After completing the searches, they can help to identify any serious problems with a property that might affect its value.

First of all they will contact your Local Authority to request details around;

  • Boundaries
  • Planning constraints/permission
  • Rights of way
  • Utility providers
  • Any additional restrictive agreements

With their experience and local knowledge they may also recommend further surveys such as;

  • Water and Drainage – Checking the status of sewers, drains and piping through your local water company. They can identify who is responsible for what and head off any potential disputes with neighbours or the water authority themselves.
  • Environmental Search – This identifies issues with flooding, landslip or contamination or subsidence.

Each property has a different location, history and may be subject to different local by-laws and restrictions, and more specific searches may be required to get to the bottom of any potential legal issues. Your solicitor will be able to explain the details of these to you.

When you're happy with all the details you will be ready to exchange contracts and commit to the house purchase. Completion usually happens up to a week later.

Exchanging contracts is the first stage before you actually buy the house. You exchange contracts once the buyer, the seller and the legal representatives for both sides have agreed all the particulars of the deal and are willing to commit to the sale.

You put down your deposit at this stage and could lose money if you pull out now. So it's important you read the contract carefully and ask your solicitor to clarify anything you don't understand or agree with before you sign.

Exchanging contracts doesn't mean you will complete the sale and pick up the keys right away. Anything from money transfers to removal problems to unexpected events could hold up the sale, so try to keep your nerve while you wait. However, exchange of contracts and completion can take place on the same day in some circumstances.

In the final days before completion, your solicitor is likely to do a final check with the land registry and arrange for all monies to be transferred and prepare a final account to show who has paid what.

Finally, when completion day arrives, you'll be able to pick up the keys and move in. It's a great day so enjoy the experience. It's a momentous occasion and one to be proud of.

Where next?

5. Insurance and protection 

It's important to have a plan in place, just in case the worst should happen. Discover why some protection is essential.

Insurance and protection

Just to make you aware, we offer a "restricted advice" service in relation to life and critical illness cover which means we can only offer life and critical illness products from Legal & General.