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When to Instruct a Solicitor When Buying a House

Nicola Ryan

Written by Reviewed by Carol O'Leary

11th Jan 2023 (Last updated on 18th Apr 2024) 4 minute read

You should instruct a solicitor once a house offer has been accepted. Your solicitor can provide you with legal advice regardless of whether you are buying or selling a property. They will ensure that all documents are submitted correctly throughout the conveyancing process.

Some people consider representing themselves during the process to save on legal fees. Instructing an experienced conveyancing solicitor is highly recommended. This is because they are qualified to give you advice at each stage of the process.

In this guide, we’ve gathered 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 primary role is to guide you through the conveyancing process. Solicitors are recommended for first time buyers due to the legal aspects of the process. This legal process 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 consists of the draft contract and title documents
  • Make payments on your behalf such as Stamp Duty Land Tax and bank transfer fees
  • 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.
  • 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 in these instances.

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. This means they will be on hand throughout the entire transaction. Instructing a no sale no fee solicitor minimises the financial risk should the proceedings fall through.

At this stage, you should enquire about their fees. 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.

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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 a step-by-step guide for instructing a solicitor:

1. Find a Solicitor in Advance

Starting your research before an offer is accepted means you won’t be in a rush when the time comes. You can use this time to compare conveyancing quotes and choose a property team that is right for your case.

2. Provide a Timetable if Possible

Maintaining clear communication throughout with your solicitor will prevent any obstacles. It also allows your solicitor to include you in their schedule, which is ideal if they are busy.

3. Prepare Essential Documents

Your solicitor will take the initial steps by reviewing the essential document. These documents will cut down on any delay and quicken the conveyancing process. The required information can differ, especially when dealing with unusual properties. Regardless, it’s always best to have proof of address, deposit, identity, and home insurance on hand.

4. Contact Your Solicitor Once the Offer is Accepted

The process begins as the documents are verified and your solicitor will receive the contract papers. They will then begin negotiations with the seller's solicitor on your behalf.

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How to Find a Solicitor?

There are several ways that you can find a solicitor or conveyancer that is best for you. Here are some methods you can use to choose a solicitor:

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Your solicitor should be regulated by either: the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), Law Society of Scotland (LSS), Law Society of Northern Ireland (LSNI), or 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

Asking questions ensures that you know what to expect from your solicitor’s legal services. It can also reveal any hidden costs. Here are some questions to consider:

  • 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?


Asking friends and family for recommendations means you can hear an honest and first-hand account. They’ll give you an idea of what to expect from the chosen solicitor’s services.

You can also ask your estate agent for recommendations, but bear in mind that they may receive a referral. Some people use an estate agent’s recommendation when embarking on a last-minute 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.

Carol O'Leary

Reviewed by Carol O'Leary

Director, Thursfields Solicitors

Carol O’Leary has over 20 years of experience in the conveyancing industry and is the new Director of Thursfields Solicitors.

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