Choosing a conveyancer? Think before you instruct
PUBLISHED: 09:52 25 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:21 25 January 2017
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SPONSORED: The right solicitor or conveyancer can help to make buying or selling a house less stressful, but how do you find the dream team?
Buying or selling a house involves reams of paperwork, a lot of time and a fair bit of expense. But finding the right solicitor or conveyancer to orchestrate the property transfer and keep on top of the details can take some of the burden from your shoulders. It can also save you money and lessen the risk that the selling or buying process is delayed - or even derailed.
The key to finding the right people to work with is to take your time and weigh up the costs, any recommendations you get and the service you are likely to receive. First of all, it helps to understand exactly what a conveyancer or solicitor will do for you.
Conveyancing in a nutshell
The conveyancing process is essentially the legal transfer of a property from a seller to a buyer. This may sound simple, but it means a solicitor or conveyancer needs to be on the ball.
They will run searches, such as a Local Authority Search and Water Authority Search, handle the contracts, deal with the Land Registry, transfer funds and liaise with all the relevant parties, including you.
A good conveyancer will correctly complete all the paperwork on time, have transparent costs and be easily contactable in a way that suits you. This will help to make the process far less stressful and will help to minimise delays and costs.
A recommendation on where to start
Getting recommendations is a great way to narrow down your search and draw up a shortlist. Family and friends are a logical source as they can give you a first-hand view of the service they got.
Recommendations will also be offered from other quarters. Your estate agent, for example, may refer you to a firm, but it may not be the best choice for you. Estate agents can receive hefty referral fees for recommending a practice, which will ultimately add to your conveyancing fees. A big fee may also mean that an agent recommends the firm that pays the most rather than the one that’s most suitable for you.
To weigh up if the firm is a good fit for you, ask your estate agent if they receive a referral fee, and if so, how much. This will help you to make a more informed choice.
Another good way to split the competition is to get plenty of quotes and compare them like-for-like. However, as with most things in life, you are likely to get what you pay for.
When receiving a quote, make sure that all the costs and fees are itemised. Charges for running searches, making bank transfers, Stamp Duty and Land Registry fees should all be listed. Watch out for any disbursement charges too, such as postage or courier fees.
If you want plenty of support throughout the process, it may be worth keeping your search to local firms.
Local firms tend to have a smaller conveyancing team and smaller client list, which means you can build a strong relationship with team members during the buying or selling process. This can make it easier to keep tabs on any progress and get questions answered. It’s also an advantage for the estate agent and mortgage lender, who will be regularly liaising with your conveyancer. Communication is likely to be far smoother if your conveyancer knows your details and circumstances at the drop of a hat.
Another advantage is that a locally-based firm will have a base near your current home. This will be convenient if you want to talk to someone face-to-face or if you have to drop off any documents.
Local conveyancers and solicitors will also know the local area. This may be handy if there are any special circumstances in the neighbourhood that need further investigation.
If you are buying a house with a mortgage, it’s best to check that your lender is happy with your choice of conveyancer before you instruct them. Many lenders have their own panels of approved solicitors or conveyancers, and choosing someone outside of this panel could mean you have to pay the lender’s representation costs. These costs can vary from lender to lender but are usually around the £200 mark.
Some lenders do compromise and accept firms that have CQS accreditation or a licence. You can find out if your solicitor has CQS accreditation by checking out the Law Society Website and you can check your conveyancer’s licence by looking at the site of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
Sum it up
If everything checks out and you have weighed up the options, you can enter the often stressful process of buying or selling a house knowing that you have chosen the best possible option.
To make sure you do, here is a final checklist of things to think about when choosing a conveyancer or solicitor:
• Ask for recommendations from friends and family.
• Check for referral fees when recommended a firm by your estate agent.
• Compare all costs like-for-like.
• Weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of local and national firms.
• Make sure your lender is happy with your choice.
This article has been sponsored by Hatch Brenner. You can find out more on their website.