Let us imagine you’ve sold a property in the past, and the legal fees payable at the time were quite reasonable. After a period of living in rented accommodation, the market is favorable and buying again is within your means so you find a house you likeĀ  and you are thinking of buying it.

Unfortunately, conveyancing fees for buying a property are usually more expensive , as you can clearly see from the linked website if you get some quotations for selling and then for buying. The legal expenses are far higher when buying a property than for selling one.

Let us explain why:

It is mainly because there is more work to do on the part of your solicitor or licensed conveyancer for the buying element. There are also more disbursements that you need to expend for things like Searches of which there are numerous types.

The way it works is that the seller of the property will instruct their solicitor to draw up a contract of sale. these are usually standardised documents nowadays perhaps with some appendixes to include any additional matters aside from standard items like a schedule of fixtures and fittings that may be part of the sale. The benefit of standardising within the profession is that the buyers solicitor knows exactly what they can expect to be receiving from the sellers solicitors. Not that they should be so lax as not to bother checking a standard contract as this would be foolish.

The contract of sale is drafted and sent to the buyers solicitor. This used to be done by recorded delivery postage but a pdf attachment to an email is probably an acceptable method of transmission today. It will be the job of the buyers solicitor to scrutinise the contract and ensure there are no problems in essence with it.

The buyers solicitor also has to send out enquiries to the seller usually through the sellers solicitor. Remember, all this was done by mail in pre-email times adding innumerable delays to the conveyancing process. The seller is sent the enquiries, also known as ‘Pre-Contract Enquiries’ on a standardised form. It is rarely done from a bespoke list these days. The form is known as a ‘Sellers property Information Form’. The questions will pertain to the condition of the property and the neighbourhood covering environmental and social issues. These questions may cover things like ‘have the police been called to the street in the past 12 months because of a disturbance?’. The seller does not have to be bound to give answers to questions they do not particularly know the answers to so some onus on the buyer may be bounced back as a ‘not known, please check yourself’ type return.

The seller has also got to get a variety of Searches undertaken by making enquiries with various bodies on matters that may affect how the buyer will be able to enjoy the property in the foreseeable future. Water searches will tell you if the property is prone to flooding. Land Registry searches, being the most important one, will tell you if the seller is the registered owner of the property and therefore has the right to sell it to you. NCB searches will tell you if there are historic mine workings under your property.

In effect, all the sellers solicitor is doing is drawing up the contract of sale but all the costs and effort are on the sellers solicitor for the above reasons.

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