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Buying a House? Your Questions Answered

3 min read
Photo of Flora Wallace
Flora Wallace

Residential Property Client Support

FAQs on buying a house

Once you have agreed to buy a house, you will need to tell the Selling Agent the name of the Solicitor you want to instruct to act for you.

Do I have to use the Solicitors recommended by the Estate Agent?

No you do not. Do not be persuaded to use the 'in house' Conveyancing firm recommended by the Estate Agent. Quite often they are not local to where you live and they are not always cheaper than your local experienced firm of Solicitors. Also there is often a reason the Estate Agent is keen for you to instructed their 'own' Conveyancers. It is because they will receive a payment for the referral.

A friend of mine was told by the Selling Agent that his offer for a property would not be put to the Seller unless he used the Agents Financial Advisor for a mortgage. Can they do that?

No. The Estate Agent cannot make your offer conditional on using their Financial Advisor. They are obliged to put your offer to the Seller. The only reason an unscrupulous Agent would insist on his is because they will receive payment for the mortgage application.

What happens when I instruct my chosen firm of Solicitors?

You will be asked to complete and instructions form giving personal details such as your full name, your National Insurance Number date of birth and details of your proposed mortgage provider if you have an offer in principle subject to survey. You will also be asked to pay some money on account of search fees.

Why do I need to give my date of birth and National Insurance number to my chosen Solicitors?

When you buy a property, if the purchase price is over £125,000 Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) but commonly known as 'Stamp Duty' is payable. Although it is for the purchaser of property to file the SDLT return to H.M. Revenue and Customs (to whom Stamp Duty is payable) your Solicitor will have the details to complete the return which will include the property details, the name of the Seller, the Solicitors for both parties and your details which will include your date of birth and NI number. This return must be filed and the Stamp Duty paid within a short time from the completion of your purchase taking place.

How long will the process for my purchase take?

Once the transaction is underway, your solicitor will receive a sale contract and details of the title to the property from the Sellers Solicitor. Your Solicitor will investigate the title to the property, make enquiries relating to the property and apply for searches. This process can take on average 4-5 weeks from receipt of the sale contract. If the sale to you is not dependent on the Seller buying an alternative property then provided you have received your mortgage offer from your proposed lender then once your Solicitor has advised you concerning the property and you have signed your purchase contract and mortgage deed, completing you purchase could take place 7-10 days later. However, not all transactions are the same and the timings may differ.

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When to report a solicitor to the SRA

If you have complained to your solicitor about breaching the SRA Code of Conduct and are not satisfied with their response, you can report them to the SRA. Examples of a breach include:

  • Dishonesty
  • Fraud
  • Discrimination

When to contact the Legal Ombudsman

If you have complained to your solicitor about poor service and you are not satisfied with their response, you can contact the Legal Ombudsman who deal with poor service, such as:

  • Delayed or unclear communication
  • Problems with your bill
  • Loss of documents