Huw Worthington of Worthingtons Solicitors Northern Ireland explains the role of a Solicitor in the conveyancing process.
Contrary to popular belief the role of the Solicitor is not to delay or complicate matters but to ensure that all matters relating to the Title of the property are registered correctly.
Generally speaking the role of the Solicitor is fairly low down the batting order. The Estate Agent is the first port of call and once your offer is accepted and your finances vetted through the Mortgage Broker that is the time when people normally see their Solicitor. Solicitors are bound by strict codes of conduct and you should always be sent Terms of Business highlighting the costs involved.
If a Solicitor is recommended to you by a friend or colleague that is normally a good sign; avoid the cheapest as we all know what they say about getting what you paid for! Your Solicitor will have received the Title Deeds from the Vendors Solicitor and during the course of your visit will explain the Title to you.
The Solicitor will let you have a copy of the Map which shows what you are buying and explain whether the property is Freehold or Leasehold and whether Ground Rent is payable. Any restrictions on use or Rights of Way will also be explained. Your Solicitor will have received Property Certificates which come from the DOE and the Local Council. These will indicate whether the sewers and roads are adopted and whether extensions and alternations have Building Control and Planning Permission. Any Survey and Mortgage information will be discussed and explained.
Once all the information is obtained the Solicitor will invite you to sign the Contract – in fact you sign an Offer to Purchase and the Price, Completion Date and Full Name are added to the offer. The offer is released to the Vendors Solicitor and, if the Vendor is happy with the offer, they will accept, and a copy of the accepted Contract is returned to the Purchaser's Solicitor. The Purchaser's Solicitor draws down the Mortgage monies and any balance money and you get your keys when the money is handed over on the Completion day.
Finally the Solicitor completes the registration of Title into your name and returns all Title Deeds to the new Lender.
Huw Worthington is a founding Partner of Worthingtons Solicitors and is based in our Newtownards office. Hus is head of our Residential Property department and our Wills and Administration of Estates department.
This article incorporates general legal principles and specific legal advice should be obtained as individual circumstances differ.