Understanding the role of legal representation in mortgages

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

The legal process of transferring property from one party to another is known as conveyancing and is another aspect of applying for a mortgage.

A legal representative, such as a solicitor or licenced conveyancer, will assist with the legal side of a property purchase or the remortgaging of your current property. Your legal representative will help with a variety of tasks while you are going through the homebuying (or remortgaging) process, tasks such as land registry searches, property searches, the payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax and exchanging contracts with the other party's legal representative.

What searches are carried out?

When purchasing a property, your legal representative will carry out a number of searches on the land and property being bought. The type of search carried out will vary depending on the location and type of property but will usually include:

Land Registry search

Checking the ownership of the new property. This is one of the most important checks that will be carried out.

Property searches and Local search

Obtaining information from the local council about planning changes that may affect the property.

Water searches

Checking the position of water pipes and drainage and whether there is a water main.

Coal mining

If the property is in an area of past mining activity, obtaining a coal mining search report and determining the risk of subsidence or landslips.

Flood risk

If the property is on a flood plain, it could be at risk and may affect whether or not home insurance can be obtained easily.

Conveyancing and a remortgage

A legal representative is also needed on any remortgage of your current property so that the new lender can be sure that legally the property will be good security for its lending. However not all property searches may be required as some can be covered by insurance.

Choosing a solicitor

At Yorkshire Building Society, we provide a conveyancing service to help you find a legal representative for your mortgage. Whether it’s selling your property, a house purchase or a remortgage, it’s easy to find a conveyancer to help you.

We have over 120 solicitors to choose from and the search process takes just two minutes.

Already found a solicitor?

You can check if they are in our approval panel by using our Solicitor Panel Checking Tool

Exchange of contracts and completion

When you receive a mortgage offer from your chosen provider, a copy will also be sent to your legal representative - this includes a copy of the terms of your mortgage. We do not require you to send in an acceptance of a mortgage offer, though this is necessary for Existing Borrower Transfers and Additional Loans.

The process of exchange of contracts is where the legal representatives agree the terms of the purchase and commit the seller and buyer to the transaction. When you receive the contract for signature you will usually also get a report from your legal representative with the results of any property searches and other legal information. You will need to read that information carefully.

When you are ready to sign and return the contract you will also need to pay the deposit and agree a completion date. Upon completion (when the property is legally transferred to you) the balance of the purchase price is transferred to the seller’s legal representative. When the seller receives all the funds, the purchase is complete.