Setting out to simply find the cheapest conveyancing quote ignores so many crucial factors which can end up meaning you pay a fortune where just a little preparation could have saved you.
Conveying the ownership of a house is full of legal complexities and minefields, involving a whole range of law, and so the process is far from straightforward. Indeed, conveyancers have one of the highest rates of negligent mistakes/complaints where they themselves get the law wrong – so choosing wisely is crucial, or it could cost you your house.
The ‘shopping list’. Ask yourself whether any of the following ingredients are important to you:
- The qualification of who will be handling the crucial legal work in your house move. Are they an actual conveyancing solicitor? A chartered legal executive? Able and experienced to make instant decisions on your house move without going to their supervising solicitor for approval. Or are they an unqualified conveyancer - and with what amount of training/supervision?
- What other areas of law does the business carry out, as conveyancing of a house impacts may other areas of law that your lawyer can help you with – trusts, wills, probate, tenancies, family, disputes, planning? Blinkered conveyancing businesses could expose you to many overlooked areas.
- Will you receive your very own conveyancing solicitor – a named person – from star to finish, so you know exactly who is responsible to you?
- Will you receive their very own email address and direct telephone number, so making contact with them is very easy?
- Do they fob you off to a website for general tick box updates, or do they make a point of explaining that they will regularly keep in person contact with updates, treating the home move as if it is their own?
- How successful do they appear to be? Are they likely to be around in 1-5 years in case they made a mistake?
- Do they have the Law Society’s approval under the Lexcel and CQS Accreditations – where your best interests are their priority?
If these are important ingredients to you, then you are already well-armed in demanding that your next conveyancer meets a certain standard before you are prepared to hand over your hard earned cash to them.
Next. How did the conveyancer come to your attention? Was it a genuine recommendation of a dynamic conveyancer from your estate agent, or one where the agent is solely motivated because they just receive a cash payment back for selling your business, or even own the conveyancing business, however good or bad the conveyancers are? The latter may be the case, so watch for this.
Finally, once you have decided on one or two possible conveyancing solicitor firms, ask them for a conveyancing quote. A conveyancing quote can really weed out the chaff. The internet certainly well publicises shoddy practices of hidden conveyancing charges. So spot some of the following which may be a sign that the total legal costs to you could be a lot higher than you thought / that the conveyancing solicitor is not as cheap as they claim:
- Where the conveyancing solicitors own price is under £500, then look closely. Every conveyancing transaction has a set amount of work involved, whatever the value of the property. If the legal fee inclusive of VAT is less than £500, ask what you are not receiving, and also look for extras tacked on which are pure profit to the lawyer (i.e. on top of the £500) but disguised as a third party payment/disbursement:
- Filling in a stamp duty form
- Arranging legal indemnity insurance
- If the property is unregistered land
- Acting for a mortgage company
- A contribution to the law firms professional insurance
- Postage, telephone call and photocopying
- Mandatory ID checks
- An urgency fee (or expedition fee) if the gap between exchange and completion is less than say 3 weeks
- Raising your questions of the seller
- Obtaining copies of planning and building control consents from the Council