If you’re about to buy your first home, you might well be planning to hire a solicitor for the first time too. And, understandably, you could be feeling nervous. The legal world can be a daunting place for newcomers, full of strange jargon, incomprehensible clauses and seemingly endless contracts (packed with references to frightening sums of money).

Relax. We’re here to help. Through common questions and expert answers, here are some tips and insights to help you buy your home with confidence….

So, I’m told I need “conveyancing” to purchase a property? What does that actually mean?

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property from one owner to another owner.

Do I really need a solicitor then? Can’t I do the conveyancing myself?

Strictly speaking, do-it-yourself conveyancing is possible but we strongly recommend engaging a solicitor. However intelligent you are – and we’re sure you’re highly intelligent, of course – legal affairs require specialist knowledge, not just enthusiasm. As a result, if the transaction involves a mortgage, the mortgage lender will almost certainly insist a solicitor is used for the conveyancing. Buying a home without help from an experienced conveyancing solicitor is extremely risky.

I understand the basic idea but what exactly does conveyancing involve? What will my solicitor do?

The many elements of conveyancing your solicitor will carry out normally include, but are not limited to, exchanging the signed contracts with the seller and transferring your funds to the seller; filing your Stamp Duty Land Tax return and paying the tax to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on your behalf (adding the amount to his or her fees); updating HM Land Registry, the government department with responsibility for registering the ownership of land and property in England and Wales; carrying out ‘searches’ (enquiries with authorities) into issues that might affect the property, such as flood risk and planning constraints; and verifying the identities of all parties involved.

That’s quite a list. Is there anything left for me to do?

Sadly, yes. Moving home is not all about conveyancing. Your solicitor’s responsibilities are limited and you will still need to take charge of many matters yourself. You should, for example, hire a specialist surveyor to identify any problems with your potential new home, such as structural issues or damp. You will need to arrange home contents and buildings insurance for your new property and set money aside for a removals service. You should also be sure, before you commit to the move, you will be able to keep up repayments on your mortgage (if you have one). If you fail to do so, your mortgage lender could repossess your home.

Buying a home, especially your first home, is an exciting experience but stress is understandable. Access to top-class legal support can ease your worries and make the move as smooth as possible. Call us now at Deborah Wilkinson & Co. to find out more.