Making the legal side of moving home faster with fresh technology

When you're buying a house, you want things sorted quickly – and Gloucestershire-based WSP Solicitors is developing a cutting-edge mobile app to help speed up the process, as SoGlos hears from the firm's board director and head of residential property.

By Emma Luther  |  Published
WSP Solicitors finds practical solutions to any issues that arise to complete property transactions as quickly as possible.

Gloucestershire-based legal firm WSP Solicitors prides itself on make conveyancing less complicated by explaining the process of moving home each step of the way.

SoGlos caught up with head of residential property Lucy McCallum to discover the key things to keep an eye on when buying a home and how the firm is driving its technological developments forward to support clients.

About the expert – Lucy McCallum, board director and head of residential property at WSP Solicitors

Lucy McCallum is a director and head of WSP Solicitors residential property team. She qualified from Bristol University in 2013 and joined WSP Solicitors in 2016, becoming head of residential property conveyancing in 2020 and a director of the firm in 2021. In 2022, she became a board director.

When it comes to buying a home what are the key things to consider legally?

It is really important to know whether there are any covenants on the title which may prevent you for using or developing the property in the way you plan to.

You should check the property benefits from all the rights of use you will require and if the property is subject to any rights you would not be happy with.  

If a property is leasehold, this means you will only own the property for a fixed period of time. There will be restrictions on what you can and cannot do to the property. You will also need to pay service or maintenance charges and possibly an annual ground rent as well. It is important you are fully aware of how it will affect the affordability of owning the property.

What do you need to bear in mind when you’re selling your home?

If the property is unregistered, the property will not be registered with the Land Registry and you will need to prove you are the legal owners by providing the original title deeds.

You should check you have all the relevant planning consents and building regulations certificates for all works carried out at the property.

You should also check any covenants affecting the property to ensure you have complied with them. For example, there may be a covenant against extending the property without the original developer’s consent or a covenant against using the property for trade or business.

How can WSP help?

We make conveyancing less complicated by explaining the process to you each step of the way. We keep you updated on the progress of your transaction. We explain legal terms in plain English. We are proactive and find practical solutions to any issues that arise so we can complete your transaction as quickly as possible for you.

On average, how much should people be budgeting for selling and buying a house in legal fees?

This depends on the value of the property. For a first-time buyer purchasing for between £200,000 and £250,000, legal fees would be around £1,400 plus VAT plus searches for around £350 with no Stamp Duty payable.

For a buyer of a property between £500,000 and £750,000, fees would likely be in the region of £1,500 to £1,750 plus VAT, search fees of around £350 and Stamp Duty and Land Registry fees on top.

How long do the legal processes typically take?

Generally, a straightforward sale or purchase will take between eight and 12 weeks from the date the contract papers are issued. This will depend on a number of factors such as how long the chain is, how quickly the other party’s solicitors progress the transaction their end and how complex the title is. Leasehold properties tend to take slightly longer as there is more work involved.

What can a person do to speed things up on their own behalf?

Be prepared. If selling, instruct a solicitor when you are putting your property on the market. You can then complete the property information form and fittings and contents form and gather all certificates, guarantees and consents in advance. As soon as a buyer is found, your solicitor will be ready to issue the contract papers without any delay.

If buying, instruct a solicitor as soon as you have your offer accepted and apply for a mortgage if required. Gather all relevant source of funds evidence for the money you are putting towards the purchase.

Instruct a local firm, like WSP, who will have in-depth knowledge of the area.

What would you like to highlight about WSP conveyancing procedures?

WSP Solicitors is part of the fabric of Gloucestershire. The firm has been working for the people of the county for more than 250 years. We are proactive and always put our clients first. This includes communicating with clients using their preferred method. We communicate with other solicitors by email to avoid any delays with post.

As well as detailed knowledge of Gloucestershire, we also have long standing relationships with many local agents and search providers.

As a firm we are always looking to enhance the process and experience for our clients, which includes using new technologies.

We are currently developing a mobile app to help speed up the onboarding process and improve communication with clients during the conveyancing process.

It will act as a portal for clients to sign e-forms and keep a close eye on tracking the process, so they can see who we're waiting on and live chat with us too. We're in the testing phase now and will roll it out this spring.

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