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Legal work: Buying a home

This content applies to England & Wales

The fees solicitors dealing with a house purchase may charge, and conveyancing.

The fees charged by solicitors are made up of two amounts:

  • professional charges – payment for the solicitor's work and time
  • disbursements – sums paid by the solicitor on the purchaser's behalf eg search fees, Land Registry fees, stamp duty.

Purchasers will also have to pay the lender's legal fees, which may be included in 'disbursements' or billed separately.

The legal work, known as conveyancing, involves:

  • obtaining information from the local authority (the local authority search) about any plans or development that may affect the property
  • obtaining information from the seller about boundaries, drains, neighbour disputes etc (usually via the Law Society Property Information Form (TA6))
  • agreeing the terms of the contract, which may be standard but could include special conditions such as furniture included in the price or repairs to be done before completion of the sale
  • where the property is leasehold, checking the terms of the lease and negotiating any changes
  • checking that the seller is entitled to sell the property by checking the Land Registry or title deeds
  • exchanging contracts with the seller's solicitor
  • making the arrangements for completion.

The Legal Ombudsman has published On the move - A guide for first time buyer, covering what to think about and look for when using a conveyancing lawyer.

It is possible for purchasers to undertake the legal work themselves, known as 'do-it-yourself conveyancing', or to use someone who is not a solicitor but is registered with the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. It may be possible in the future for other bodies such as building societies or banks to offer conveyancing services.

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