Linda Wright is a Residential Conveyancing Solicitor from Fisher & Fisher Solicitors. Linda joined the firm in 2014. Her main areas of practice include Commercial and Residential Conveyancing, Wills, Trusts and Administration of Estates.

First-time buyer loans hit their highest level in NI in 13 years in 2018.[1] This has resulted in an influx of people in their 20s/30s going shopping for a first home. You’ve decided on the perfect property, organised your finances and started looking up flat pack furniture. But what’s next? You’ve never needed a solicitor before; you have no idea how to choose one let alone how long the process is going to take or how much it will cost. Let me suggest some helpful tips for along the way.

 

Legal representation

  • I would always advise choosing a local solicitor; their knowledge of the area will be invaluable and if ‘queries’ arise they will be able to easily attend the property.
  • Research on-line. Firm websites will give an insight into the company and the services they offer.
  • Phone or call into the office. Solicitors will be all too happy to speak to you about setting out the process and costs involved.
  • Ask family and friends; word of mouth referrals is still how most clients find us.
  • Like everything in life you get what you pay for. Don’t just go with the cheapest option. Check out what your solicitor can do for you.

Manage your expectations

  • For a normal purchase we would say a time frame of 6-8 weeks is realistic but every house is different and issues commonly arise that cause delay. If your property is a new build the developer will dictate the completion date.

The process

  • When your solicitor receives the title deeds, searches and mortgage offer they will review all and arrange for you to call into the office to go through everything. Come prepared with any questions you may have.
  • You will be provided with a map. It is very important you confirm that the map reflects the property on the ground. There is an old saying in conveyancing ‘if something is going to go wrong it is usually with the map’. The day you buy is the day you sell; if we don’t get it sorted now it will cause issues down the line.
  • When a completion date has been agreed your solicitor will furnish you with a bill and cash account informing you of the amount they need from you to complete. If you have a Help to Buy ISA ensure these are closed in good time of completion and the closing statement furnished asap. You receive the closing balance and we receive the bonus amount.
  • Be Stamp Duty (SDLT) aware. If you are a First Time Buyer there is usually no SDLT to pay. However, if you own any other property you will not be able to avail of this relief. This includes property you have inherited or otherwise own.

 

Happy house hunting!

Linda Wright, Residential Conveyancing Solicitor, Fisher & Fisher, 9 John Mitchel Place, Newry, County Down, BT34 2BP

[1] Margaret Canning in the Belfast Telegraph 23 August 2018.
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