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Beware the hidden pitfalls when moving home

This article appeared in the September 2009 edition of Eastside magazine.

Moving home can be an exciting time, but navigating your way through the legalities can become confusing if you are given partial or incorrect advice. Here, Richard Memmott of Rotherham solicitors Norrie Waite & Slater gives clear advice on some things you need to consider.

Finding someone to carry out the legal work
The first port of call for many people when thinking of moving is to get an estate agent to value their home. At this point some estate agents will conveyancing advicerecommend that you use their ‘in house’ solicitors. Some will even quote you a combined price for marketing your property and carrying out the conveyancing work. Do they have a back room full of legally qualified conveyancers working for them? No, of course they don’t. They are usually selling your job on to a firm of solicitors, sometimes even in a different city. You could also be paying a referral fee which is over and above the real cost of the conveyancing work.

This practice also raises the question of whose interests those solicitors are then serving, yours or the estate agents who they rely on for their work? My advice is to contact a solicitor direct for your conveyancing work so that you can be sure that your interests come first. Leave the legal work to the experts and leave the marketing of your home to the estate agents.

Choosing between firms of solicitors
Some firms of solicitors, and in particular many online conveyancers, will quote low fees up front and later add charges for ‘additional’ costs. This is a way of attracting work in the first place by appearing cheap, but in my opinion is misleading to clients. Here at Norrie Waite & Slater we have a policy of quoting fees honestly upfront so that clients know exactly what they are going to be charged.

Look out for additional charges for things such as completing the Stamp Duty Land Tax form, buying a leasehold property or dealing with your mortgage lender. These are very common items which should be included in the price you are quoted at the outset. Here at Norrie Waite & Slater we will never hide standard fees just to appear cheaper than we are.

Home Information Packs (HIP)
This is an area that has brought some confusion to the public. Basically, if you are selling your home on the open market you now need to arrange a HIP before you are allowed to market your property. Estate agents will offer to arrange a HIP for you but it is worth shopping around before committing as they are usually not the most competitive. We can provide a professionally made HIP at a cost of £240. (price as of 23.7.2009)

When you are moving home you need a firm you can rely on to be acting in your interests only, and who you can trust to have the legal knowledge required to deal with any problems that may arise. In addition it is much easier to deal with a local firm where you can actually go in and see the person dealing with your transaction face to face if required.

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