Buying off plan property- your solicitor’s role in everything

Many people are deterred from buying off-plan property because they worry it will be a long arduous task that they don’t have the time for. It certainly can be depending on what you buy and who you invest with, but by working with the right people who take most of the work out of your hands, it can be relatively easier.

In this article, I will outline what a solicitor’s role is when you purchase an off-plan Buy to Let property.

The start of the process

Once you have decided to proceed with an investment, you will pay a reservation fee to put your unit on hold with the developers. This is when your solicitor will be assigned to you either via the developer or by using your own. It’s usually more efficient to use the developer’s nominated solicitor simply because they have progressed several sales on the scheme in question, whereas your own solicitor won’t be as familiar with the deal.

Once you are in touch with your solicitor post reservation, you will usually have around 1 month before you put pen to paper and exchange contracts. The following steps will take place over the course of the upcoming weeks prior to this happening:

Step One

Your solicitor will first send you a Client Care Letter, which confirms their terms of business, costs and the like. Once you sign this and send it back to your solicitor, they are then obligated to act on your behalf throughout the sales process. The solicitor will request all the necessary paperwork from the developer’s solicitor. This includes all the legal documents and the contract of sale.

Step Two

The solicitor reviews the documents and contract and will then ask for the search fee once they are satisfied everything is in order. Once this is paid, they will arrange for the search to be done.

If there are queries that arise from the review of the legal documents, the solicitor will liaise between you and the developer via its solicitor. Only when any issues have been resolved will the solicitor continue. This is where it pays to have a good solicitor and supports the theory that it’s best to go with the developer’s nominated legal team. They will know exactly what should be in the contracts because they will have dealt with many sales progressions on the chosen deal.

Step Three

During the third week, the solicitor will ensure that any and all queries have been resolved and that the search is satisfactory. With all this in place, you’ll receive a copy of the contract to review. You’ll need to sign this, and you’ll also receive a request for the deposit.

Step Four

This is when you’ll need to send the signed contract back to the solicitor. You’ll need to arrange for the deposit money to be paid into the solicitor’s escrow account.

Once they have received your signed contract and deposit, the solicitor will arrange for the exchange of contracts and payment of the deposit to the developer.

Step Five

Once you have actually exchanged, the process doesn’t stop there. Through the next few months, your solicitor will be in touch with you at regular intervals. You’ll need them to handle:

  • Transfer deeds
  • Mortgage deeds
  • Certificate of title
  • Searches on land registry and land charges
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax.

This may all seem like a relatively simple process, but each stage can feel time consuming if your solicitor isn’t on the ball or generally isn’t familiar with the deal itself. They need to understand the complexities of buying property off-plan because of the tight deadlines involved. Your role in all of this is to provide what the solicitor needs when they need it to make the process a smooth one.

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