After finding your ideal property, you are eager to move forward with the purchase, but now is the moment to appoint a solicitor. Friends and family may recommend a firm, which is adequate for some, however it is advisable to understand what a conveyancing solicitor does, and why you need one, before starting your search. This helps you to discover the right solicitor for you.
What is the difference between a conveyancing solicitor and a licensed conveyancer?
A licensed conveyancer is a professional who is specifically qualified to work on sales and purchases, but is not a solicitor. A conveyancing solicitor has passed legal exams to become a solicitor and then chosen to specialise in the area of property law. They are both qualified to help you with your property transaction, by handling the payments and paperwork to ensure you take legal possession of the property. A solicitor may be more useful if unanticipated complications arise during the transaction which require greater legal expertise.
Visit our other page for advice on choosing between licensed conveyancers and solicitors.
Points to take into account:
Before appointing a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer, you should read the points below, to ensure that you choose a capable firm to represent you, that is professional and adept.
The first action you can take to establish if the firm is professional is to check that it has accreditation. Solicitors are regulated under the CQS (Conveyancing quality scheme) by the SRA (Solicitors regulation authority). Licensed conveyancers are regulated by the CLC (Council for licensed conveyancers). If you get a conveyancing quote through us, all our branches and solicitors are fully certified and regulated by the SRA and we are on the panels of more than 60 lenders.
Reading endorsements is another technique to verify that a law firm is operating legitimately and providing a good service to their clients. Research different solicitors and find out what customer experience other people are reporting. You can also check their rating on third party platforms, such as Trustpilot, for independent verification.
Price is often a factor in the decision to instruct a conveyancing firm. If you are content to pay a higher rate you can often get a better service. Opting for somewhere around the average quoted price will ensure a standard conveyancing service. Otherwise select the service with the cheapest fees to save money. However in order to understand how much you must pay, you need to be mindful of what is included in the bill. Are there any added costs, and if so when will payment be expected?
It is commonly understood that clients are required to pay for their solicitor to undertake searches. However numerous other expenses, often termed disbursements, are not as clear. Ask the sales representative of the firm to provide a detailed list, to easily identify what charges are covered. If your conveyancing solicitor was recommended by your estate agent you should ask how much commission they are receiving in referral fees. It may be surprising to find out that they are earning hundreds of pounds for your business, which is ultimately being passed on to you by way of an increased bill.
Most people want to move house as fast as is practicable, but ordinarily it cannot be handled that quickly. If you are facing a time restriction, please let your conveyancer know as soon as possible, so they can advise if it is practical. The typical length of a conveyancing matter from start to completion is generally 8 to 10 weeks. Straightforward purchase matters can in some cases conclude inside of 6 weeks, but that is not the norm. Reasons for delays can include paperwork being late from the seller, or searches taking longer than expected. Communicate with your conveyancer about your particular circumstances and target dates, in order to get the best estimate for your moving date.
To keep you informed of every step in your matter, most conveyancing solicitors have a secure web portal. As each stage of the transaction is completed they send out informative emails and texts, for instance when they have the result of the searches, or your mortgage offer has been received. It is helpful to see progress reports and know the matter is moving towards completion.
Before instructing your conveyancing solicitor, make sure they employ systems like these, or ask how they would otherwise update you.
The top criticism cited by clients who are unhappy with their conveyancer is poor communication. The conveyancing process can be long winded, so regular updates reduce the uncertainty. This breaks down, however, when your conveyancer does not have anything to report, where searches have not been received, or they are waiting for the seller to send paperwork.
Tell your conveyancing solicitor if you require a particular regularity of communication, if this is a preference for you. Find out if your conveyancer has planned annual leave at any time during your transaction, and whether there will be someone to cover them who understands your needs.
And what don’t I need to be concerned about?
The conveyancing firm you choose has not got to be near the property you are buying. They can still handle the conveyancing process for you, provided they are registered to operate in England and Wales, and not Scotland. So you do not need a local conveyancer.