Residential Property Associate Solicitor, Claire Turner, discusses the process of purchasing a new property and the challenges the pandemic currently has on the housing market:

Talk us through the process of purchasing a new home:

To put it simply, once you have had an offer accepted on a property, your Solicitor will review the property specification (made up of title documents from the Land Registry, searches and information from the Seller) and may ask the Seller’s Solicitor questions to obtain a more in depth picture of the property and any rights or restrictions which go with it. Once the Solicitor is satisfied all is in order, this will be confirmed to you (and any lender) by way of a Report on Title. This will summarise all the Solicitor has discovered. Whilst timescales depend on the complexity of the matter, the average transaction takes 8 to 12 weeks to complete.

How can a Solicitor help someone throughout the conveyancing process?

Whether you are a First Time Buyer, or have moved many times before, moving house can be stressful. Your Solicitor can take the stress away from you and deal with all matters on your behalf. Your Solicitor will investigate the property information and clarify all the legal jargon!

What mistakes do people tend to run into without expert advice from a specialist solicitor?

It is important to remember that whilst you can generalise a property type, such as a house or a flat, each individual property is different. A specialist Solicitor will examine, with a fine-tooth comb, every element of the property and ensure the property benefits from the necessary rights required for a Buyer to fully use and enjoy the property and will ensure there are no onerous rights registered against it.

Additionally, if a Buyer uses a specialist Solicitor, they are also benefitting from the numerous contacts that Solicitor has, whether its from colleagues in other departments, such as Private Client (Wills) or third parties such as mortgage brokers or financial advisors.

What can people do if their house purchase or sale is delayed due to Coronavirus?

It may be tough, but the best thing to do is be patient. The Government have confirmed that house purchases are able to continue, despite ‘lockdown 3.0’. This is encouraging and means that matters are not at a standstill. However, due to restrictions in place, coupled with the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday, transactions may take a little longer. At Ellisons, we are confident we can manage, and meet, all our clients’ expectations, despite the pandemic.

What should Buyers bear in mind when it comes to the stamp duty holiday?

Buyers should be mindful that the average house purchase takes approximately 8 to 12 weeks to complete. This does of course depend on the complexity of the matter and the length of the chain. Therefore, in any sales now being agreed, parties should expect the matter to complete after the SDLT holiday (unless extended by the government). The instructed Solicitor will of course do all they can to meet the deadline. However, this is only possible if all aspects fall in line, i.e. the property, paperwork and the chain.