Buying a property is often one of the most exciting times in someone’s life, and it is fantastic that there are options such as Shared Ownership for people, irrespective of age or previous property ownership, to get themselves on the ‘Property Ladder’. But what is the role of the solicitor? Lucinda Douglass from the Residential Property Team at Dutton Gregory Solicitors explains…
Shared Ownership helps people literally get their foot in the door and get a property to call their own by requiring a smaller deposit, making home ownership more accessible. Having the opportunity to purchase further shares and, in most cases, own 100% of the property is a definite bonus.
But why do you need a solicitor to do this? People enter contracts every day without legal help, so what is it about buying a house that requires a professional assistance?
Solicitors understand how important property is as a financial asset. Not only is it the most expensive transaction most people will undertake in their lives, but a home is where you rest your head at night, create memories with family and friend and keep your possessions safe.
For those reasons, a solicitor’s job is to make sure that the purchase and sale are conducted properly so you can enjoy every second of your ownership.
Property law has been around for centuries, and some of it has not been updated a long time which is reflected in documents and paperwork. For example, the age of the property may be the age of its lease or conveyance, so if you are purchasing a 70-year-old house, you will need to review this 70-year-old document, and even the newest leases are drafted in the same legal jargon. Sometimes the property will be subject to provisions in documents that are even older than the age of the property, even going back to the 1800’s.
This means that the documentation for a property may be difficult to read and understand. I always said while doing my law degree that I felt like I was learning a new language, but it has proved essential to my job when reviewing property law documentation. It is the job of the solicitor to understand all the clauses and stipulations in the documents, and then translate and explain them so they make sense to you.
Keeping it Legal
A solicitor will also ensure that a property transaction is in accordance with the law, that a title and lease is satisfactory and that a buyer is not left open to any risk. For example, the collection and investigation of appropriate evidence on any home improvements or planning permission, or highlighting the obligations of a Housing Association or lender so that their stake in the property is protected and you can enjoy the property uninterrupted. The solicitor is basically looking out for your interests.
There are many parties who play a part in the house-buying process and there can be any combination of Housing Associations, agents, lenders, mortgage brokers, buyers and sellers, all with important roles to play. Your solicitor is there to help all of them, acting for you and your lender by communicating with a Housing Association and providing the details they want as partial owner of the property. Solicitors ensure that no party is left unaccounted for and everyone works together to achieve the common goal.
Support and Guidance
Due to its complexity and uniqueness, the house-buying process can sometimes feel overwhelming at times. A good solicitor offers support and guidance through experience to minimise stress and put your mind at rest. We can deal with the difficult moments for you, find solutions to problems and remind you that you are not alone.
In conclusion, the role of a good solicitor is not only practical and functional, but also supportive and caring as you share the same objective - to get those keys on completion day and enjoy your new home.