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Role of the solicitor

In the purchase of a property, or in obtaining a mortgage, the intervention of a solicitor can be essential. He should be selected by you, and not recommended by your banker or the seller: one of the solicitor's missions is to defend his client. Having said this, people often consider the solicitor to be an official representative of authority who comfortably earns his living by passively reading one or another "notarial deed" before requesting initials and signatures. This is forgetting the multiplicity of legal knowledge that he possesses and the essential role he plays in all the deeds which are signed in his office, both upstream and downstream.

This aspect, which is sometimes unknown, can be found throughout his intervention in the purchase of a property and in the credit act which will possibly accompany it. In fact, in the intervention relating to a property purchase deed, the solicitor must deal with a number of steps which justify the delay between the acceptance of the credit and the signature of the deeds. These steps safeguard the "public" interest and that of the client:

  • Origin of property: the solicitor must know the history of the property you wish to purchase, in order that he may impart legal security to the deeds that you will sign. The solicitor is legally obliged to read this to you during the deed (a practice which dates back to the era when illiteracy was common), in this way avoiding the possibility of some chap or other later claiming any rights on your property;
  • Thirty-year research : this is important if you purchase a property burdened by some mortgage or constraint, as this will be bound to your purchase. It is a "thirty-year" research because a mortgage registration is chronologically limited to 30 years and lapses after this period. The waiting period for this research is sometimes a problem because it depends on the speed of the mortgage office concerned. You should allow 3-5 weeks on average;
  • Tax research: although this "benefits" from being more quickly resolved (12 calendar days from the date of sending the research via registered post to the tax office), its purpose is also to protect the buyer. In fact, the law anticipates fiscal debts to be mortgages and always includes a "supernatural mortgage", able to be objectivised up to 8 days following the sale! In other words, were it not for this step, you would risk finding out that, in the week following your purchase, the former owner had debts and that the tax office could put your new home up for public sale in order to obtain its money!
  • This research explains the time delays, which some find too long, prior to signing at the solicitor's. In the case of a purchase financed by a mortgage it is acceptable, in order to speed up the process, for the prospective purchaser and the future borrower to get in touch with the solicitor following the acceptance of the loan by the bank: this could save a lot of time.