When you decide to buy or sell your property, one of the first things you will need to do is decide which lawyer or firm of conveyancers you will use to carry out the work for you. How do you decide? You may have moved before and, if you did (and it went smoothly), you may wish to contact the same lawyer or firm. If you are a first time buyer or do not have a preferred conveyancer, you will find that the fees quoted can vary considerably as can the quality of the service. Sean Sanders from Thackray Williams Solictors explains >>
What to Consider
Finding the right conveyancing firm can be difficult, as most websites you look at will proclaim that they work with speed, efficiency and the latest technology.
It is more important that you choose someone who you can talk to about the many issues that may arise and who has enough experience of the process to advise you fully on all aspects of the transaction. You don’t want someone who is unable to answer a query, if there is no tick box on their computer screen covering that particular question or scenario.
If possible, choose a local firm as sometimes there is no better substitute than discussing things in person. Also consider ease of communication (how quickly have they responded to your calls or emails), the reputation of the firm and recommendations from your friends and family.
The Role of the Conveyancer
Get to know and trust your lawyer as, unlike others involved in the house buying process, they are acting solely in your best interests.
Their role includes the following:
To do everything they can to make sure you get a good and marketable title and that you move within an acceptable timeframe, although in any process involving third parties and chains of transactions, the exact timing of the move may be very difficult to fully control. They are not in the business of holding up the transaction – despite what others may imply!
To protect you from the other party, who may be quite happy to sell you something that is not quite right, or from an agent who told you there was an imminent deadline, or an irate seller.
The provision of indemnity insurance cover so that, in the unlikely event of a legal problem that results in a negligence claim, it is the conveyancer’s insurance company who will deal with it. No one else in the process provides any guarantee that they have not made a mistake or allows you to claim later, and no other party to the transaction is regulated to such a high degree by their professional body (in this case the Solicitors Regulation Authority).
You may get a recommendation from the estate agent or your mortgage company to use a particular conveyancer. While this can be helpful, some mortgage companies and estate agents may have a financial incentive to encourage you to use a particular firm through the payment of referral or other fees. They are under an obligation to inform you if a referral or introduction fee is paid, but many do not. Therefore, be wary if someone is trying hard to persuade you to use a particular firm without good reason.
Try to avoid ‘conveyancing factories’, run on a call centre-type basis, whereby one lawyer oversees a large number of conveyancing clerks who work on computers carrying out the process on a ‘production line’ basis. This may seem acceptable – but every property (and client) is different, and when something unusual occurs, delays often follow while you wait for the ‘lawyer’ to look at the file. Money saved by instructing one of these cheaper ‘factories’ can mean weeks lost in delays. There is no substitute for professional, personal service.