An Introduction to Real Estate Law
An Introduction to Real Estate Law
There has been some good news for the property market in recent weeks. The BBC has reported recently that the housing market in the UK is seeing something of a ‘meaningful recovery’ with a rise in mortgage lending. It has also been estimated that the total value of all homes in Britain increased by 57 billion this year to 5.963 trillion. Though the property market has seen some stagnant periods in recent years, thousands of transactions are completed every year with individuals and businesses alike buying, selling and renting houses, flats, offices and buildings. Whether you are part of a business looking for new office space or simply an individual looking for a new home it is important to use the services of a solicitor or law firm that specialises in property or real estate law.
Why is it useful to engage the services of a real estate law solicitor? Isn’t an estate agent all you need? The trouble with estate agents, from a buyer’s point of view, is that an estate agent’s main obligation is to the seller not the buyer. As a buyer it is important to get advice from someone who specialises in property law so that you can avoid the possibility of being ripped off or being taken advantage of. Property is expensive and it is important that all the small details are monitored so you can avoid losing out. Property lawyers (or real estate lawyers as they are sometimes known) deal with a wide spectrum of issues and tasks relating to property. In many cases it involves more than just organising the exchange of deeds.
Property lawyers will have a broad range of clients that encompass more than just residential buyers and sellers. They will also deal with landlords, tenants, developers, agents and even local councils. Real estate lawyers will deal with very different parts of the property market from the corporate side, to the public sector and the residential side. Often solicitors will pick a particular side of property law to specialise in and usually this divide will be between commercial and residential cases. Commercial real estate solicitors will often deal more with acquisitions, development and estate management among other tasks. On the other hand residential real estate solicitors will generally be involved with conveyancing on a residential level. Conveyancing is the transferral of ownership or legal title of property and is the foundation for selling and buying houses. Residential property solicitors may also be referred to as ‘conveyancers’.
So what is involved in real estate law and conveyancing? Arguably the most important part of buying and selling property is whether the title on the property is legitimate and a conveyancing solicitor will carry out searches to ensure this is the case. This is hugely important because if no one checked whether a title was legitimate, people would be able to sell property without the owner’s consent. A conveyancing solicitor will deal with all aspects of the buying and selling process on your behalf. They will deal with managing stamp duty charges, the transfer of payments between buyer and seller, and drawing up contracts. Commercial property solicitors will give legal advice on combining property, property investment and development. They may also be involved to some degree in planning and construction and may provide legal advice on these areas.
Real estate solicitors do not solely deal with the buying and selling of property. They may also take on cases that deal with renting and leasing property. A tenant or a landlord may require the services of a real estate solicitor if they have a disagreement over rent or fees. A real estate solicitor may also prepare the agreement for lease when a new tenant moves in and may deal with the negotiations involved.
There are many different types of cases that a real estate solicitor may be involved with. However, it is no longer essential to involve a lawyer in conveyancing transactions and some people do buy and sell property without legal input. Previously it was only solicitors who could transfer property titles, today this is no longer the case. It is advisable, however, to engage the services of a solicitor specialising in real estate because the process can be complicated and if you do not know what you are doing you could end up losing money or the process could go wrong. Property transactions can also be fairly longwinded and using a solicitor’s services could save you a great deal of time and hassle.