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When to Instruct a Solicitor When Buying a House

Nicola Ryan

Written by

11th Jan 2023 (Last updated on 28th Mar 2023) 5 minute read

You should instruct a solicitor once you have had your offer accepted on a house. Whether you are selling or buying a property, your solicitor can provide you with legal advice. They will also ensure that all documents are submitted correctly.

Some people consider representing themselves during the process in order to save on legal fees. However, an experienced conveyancing solicitor is qualified to give you advice at every stage of the process. If you do not have professional conveyancing experience, this can cause major problems. You will likely have difficulty reading through the contract package due to the legal jargon. This can make the legal transfer a difficult experience.

In this guide, we’ll be taking you through everything you should know about instructing a solicitor when buying a house.

  1. What will a Solicitor do?
  2. When to Instruct a Conveyancing Solicitor
  3. How to Instruct a Solicitor
  4. How to find a Solicitor?

What will a Solicitor do?

Your solicitor’s main role is to guide you through the conveyancing process. This is the legal process that begins once an offer is accepted and ends on completion day when the buyer receives the keys. The conveyancing process takes approximately between 8 and 12 weeks to complete.

Some of the jobs the buyer’s solicitor will undertake include:

  • Carrying out identification checks
  • Contacting the seller’s solicitor on your behalf
  • Read over the contract pack which includes the draft contract and title documents
  • Processing payments for disbursements
  • Receive the Title Deed from the Land Registry declaring you as the new owners
  • Conduct various conveyancing searches. These will determine if there are any environmental issues or potential hazards that can damage the property. One search is the Local Authority Search with costs differing depending on the local council.
  • Arrange the exchange of contracts and the completion date
  • They will liaise with mortgage lenders to process your mortgage application. They will read through the mortgage offer letter and negotiate on your behalf.

It’s important to note that leasehold properties will incur extra paperwork and fees. Therefore, the conveyancing process can take longer to complete.

Read more about How Long Does Conveyancing Take

When to Instruct a Conveyancing Solicitor

The best time to instruct your solicitor is once your offer is accepted. Instructing a no move no fee guarantee solicitor will ensure that you minimise the financial risk if the sale falls through.

Make sure that you enquire about their fees as well. Some solicitors charge by the hour while others will offer a fixed fee. It’s also best to check whether the quoted price includes VAT or not.

You should start searching for your solicitor when you put in an offer. This will give you the time to fully scope your options. It will also mean that you are ready to instruct them once your offer has been accepted.

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How to Instruct a Solicitor

Knowing how to instruct a solicitor will ensure that you have a smooth and efficient process. Whether you are a new buyer or buying and selling at the same time, instructing a solicitor is one of the most important steps in the process.

Here is the best way to instruct a solicitor:

1. Find a solicitor in good time

In order to find an expert conveyancing solicitor, you need to make sure you start your research when you begin looking at the property market. This will prevent any rush once your offer has been accepted.

2. Let them know you might need them soon

Maintain clear communication with your solicitor by letting them know that you are not ready to instruct them yet but you may need them soon. This allows your solicitor to include you in their schedule, which is ideal if they are going through a busy period.

3. Prepare essential documents

Your solicitor will require essential documents at the start of the process to get the ball rolling. Having these documents to hand will cut down on any delay and quicken the conveyancing process. Make sure you have proof of address, deposit, identity, and insurance.

4. Get in touch when offer accepted

Once your offer has been accepted, instruct your solicitor to start the legal process. Your essential documents will be verified and your solicitor will receive the contract bundle. They will then begin negotiations with the seller's solicitor on your behalf.

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How to find a Solicitor?

Finding the right solicitor is one of the most important decisions you will have to make. There are several ways that you can find a solicitor or conveyancer that is best for you. Whether you are a first-time buyer or are buying and selling at the same time, there are various methods you can use to choose a solicitor.

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You can use comparison sites such as Compare My Move. By filling in our simple comparison form, we can connect you with up to 6 conveyancers who operate in your area. This allows you to compare quotes, saving money on your conveyancing fees.


It’s important to check that your solicitor is regulated by one of the following:

  • Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
  • Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC)
  • Law Society of Scotland (LSS)
  • Law Society of Northern Ireland (LSNI)
  • Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX)

Another factor to consider is whether the solicitor has a Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) certificate. This is awarded by the Law Society to those who provide the best services.

Ask Questions

As part of your research, it’s best to have a list of questions ready to ask before you instruct your solicitor. This will ensure that you know what to expect from the conveyancing services and will prevent any hidden costs. Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • Do you offer a fixed fee or hourly rate service?
  • What is included in the quote provided?
  • Do you provide a ‘no move no fee’ guarantee?
  • Do you have experience working on this type of purchase?

The more questions you ask at this stage of the process, the smoother your conveyancing process will be. This is because these questions will help you narrow down your selection to the best solicitor for your case.


Lastly, if you want to use a local solicitor, you can ask friends and family for recommendations. They can provide you with an honest account of their experience, giving you an idea of what to expect. You could also ask your estate agent for recommendations, although bear in mind that they may receive a referral fee. Using the estate agent's recommended solicitor is ideal for those embarking on a quick move.

Nicola Ryan

Written by Nicola Ryan

Nicola focusses on all things moving house at Compare My Move where she writes articles for the advice centre, guiding users through everything they need to know about moving house.

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