Finding solicitors to do your conveyancing can be a difficult business. With so much choice from varying types of firms and services, how do you choose the right one?
The following is some advice on how to go about the search for a good conveyancing solicitors.
For a free no strings attached conveyancing fee quote, call our team now on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544.
What types of solicitors are out there?
- The small firm; these are normally run by one or maybe two partners and should usually be avoided. If you take up work with such a firm the chances that the progress of your case will be disrupted is high. You may encounter problems such as; you cannot get through to your solicitor on the phone, they may not have a DX system in place and annual leave or sickness can often interfere with the services they offer. The firm could also lack a comprehensive complaints handling procedure.
- The big firm; although may have a large competent team of conveyancers, may not be local to your area and therefore may be lacking some of the basic knowledge that can often aid a property transaction. These firms should be approached in the case of a large commercial property transaction or a particularly complex conveyance.
- The local firm; depending on the size and complexity of the transaction, this type of firm would normally be your first point of call. You should try to aim for a medium sized firm with an established team of conveyancing solicitors; the firm should be local to the area in which you are purchasing the property.
Ok, so how do I distinguish between my local firms?
A good place to start is with your estate agent. The estate agent will deal with numerous solicitors local to their properties and therefore should have a good idea to which firms perform well for their clients. Make a list of any recommendations that they make. Do not be afraid to ask your estate agent whether or not they hold a referral contract with their recommended firms.
This list of recommendations can be used to form a shortlist for you to base your own investigations on. At this point check with your lender to ensure that they have no restrictions on what solicitors you use.
Start by looking up the solicitors on-line by visiting their websites and identify the appropriate people to contact for conveyancing. Email these people directly with a summary of the transaction and ask for a quote for the work.
The way conveyancing solicitors charges may vary. Some will charge a fixed fee, whereas others will charge on a percentage basis in relation to the purchase price of the property. Most commonly are those whom charge a fixed fee subject to the payment of any disbursements (such as VAT, land registry fees) and any additional unforeseen costs. You should compare all quotes received, do not however be tempted to simply go for the cheapest one. Compare your quotes with the order in which your agent recommended the firm. Make sure that the firm that is going to offer a good service at a reasonable price.
Once again, your decision may be affected if you are purchasing commercial property or are entering into a complex arrangement.
How you can tell we are conveyancing specialists
We are pleased to say that Bonallack and Bishop have now been accredited for the Conveyancing Quality Scheme run by the Law Society.
The Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) covers all the legal work involved in buying, selling and renting a property and provides a recognised quality standard for residential conveyancing law firms.
Why is it important? You might think that conveyancing is a simple and straightforward process, but the reality is that it is becoming increasingly complex.
Conveyancing chains are becoming more complex, mortgage companies more prone to withdrawing mortgage offers and there are a raft of new and complex other factors – including solar panels, for example [if you buy a house with a solar panel, did you realise that you’re taking on certain rights and responsibilities that come with ownership of the house?].
To protect those buying or selling property, the CQS was launched by the Law Society provide a nationally recognised quality standard for residential conveyancing law firms – so by appointing members of the accreditation scheme clients can ensure they have found specialist conveyancers to represent them.
However, as you would expect, being awarded membership is far from straightforward. To become accredited, any law firm will have to:
o show a minimum of three years’ experience of residential conveyancing;
o satisfy checks on the integrity of the firm in general and individual staff involved in the conveyancing process;
o establish that the firm achieves consistent high quality standards;
o sign up to a ‘clients’ charter’;
o have robust quality assurance, which is readily reviewed by ‘spot checks’ and file audits.
How high-quality conveyancing solicitors can benefit you:
An efficient solicitor should work to the following schedule:
- They draft the contract of sale and completes all the necessary local searches. They should also anticipate any relevant additional searches, which may be relevant to the individual property.
- Once in receipt of the seller’s questionnaire and fixtures and fittings form, he/she should raise any appropriate enquiries in relation to your personal requirements.
- Any potential problems raised by the local search results should be reported back to you, the client.
- The draft contract will be sent to the seller’s solicitor via DX (document exchange). If this is approved then it will be checked by you and signed.
- If everything is in order then the solicitor will request the deposit money from you and authorisation from your lender that you have access to the appropriate funds.
- If every query has been satisfied, there is no reason why an exchange and completion cannot take place at the same time.
- Lastly, if there are any outstanding issues the solicitor should be able to draft watertight conditions precedent into the contract for sale.
- A good solicitor should always report back to their client keeping them informed of their progress. Many firms now have an on-line tracking system where you are able to visualise the progress of your conveyance. In using a competent solicitor a straightforward residential conveyance should only take weeks.
How a bad solicitor can affect your conveyancing:
- A poor solicitor will follow the above schedule, but may work in a much less efficient way, which will severely delay the timescale of your conveyance:
- He/she will wait for the local searches before preparing the draft contract, they will also file away the title deeds received from the sellers solicitor.
- Once they receive the generic local searches they may raise a few more alternative searches for clarity. This is done subsequently, rather than anticipating the type of searches needed in relation to location/type of the property and obtaining these at the same time.
- Upon receipt of the seller’s replies and the results of the further searches he/she will then produce a draft contract and send this off to the seller’s solicitor for approval using the postal service rather than DX.
- When the contract is returned he will post it to you for checking and signing. You will then sign this and return with the deposit monies.
- He/she will then contact the lender for approval of the mortgage; this can take up to 4 weeks to come through.
- Eventually you are ready to exchange and hopefully complete without any further delays.
- Working in such a traditional and slow manner, the above solicitor could slow your conveyancing process from weeks to months. In delaying the purchase you also run the risk that the seller becomes impatient, looses confidence in your intentions and thus pulls out prior to exchange.
This highlights the importance of prior preparation and research in choosing conveyancing solicitors. Always try to match a firm to your individual needs, a good place to start is their website and contacting their conveyancing team directly.