As soon as possible, as it does not cost any more due to the simple fact that conveyancing solicitors charge a fixed fee. In fact, instructing your conveyancing solicitor as early as possible can actually save you money, as well as avoid delays. Here's how:
In the vast majority of cases, you only instruct a conveyancing solicitor once you have found a property and your offer is accepted. Why? Maybe because you mistakenly believe you will run up a legal bill by approaching them early. But this misses the basic point that at that time, the conveyancer would have no legal work to do, so at most they would simply take your identification documents, and perhaps a cheque on account of eventual search costs - two things which have to happen in any event, whenever you instruct. Yet many conveyancers will wait to get these two items before starting legal work. So if you leave instructing a conveyancer until your offer is accepted, the lawyer will cause you an immediate delay while they take these two items from you at that late stage. Not what anyone wants.
In addition, the lawyer will have to open a file, and send you their terms of business, the latter of which some conveyancers delay commencing work for until a copy is returned to them as acknowledgement that you have received and read them.
So always instruct as early as possible.
This is where the biggest advantage is when instructing a conveyancing solicitor as early as possible. There is nothing more frustrating for a buyer and their own conveyancer than waiting many days, sometimes weeks, while the seller's conveyancer prepares the contract papers. However, they are frequently not to blame, as their selling client only instructed them the day after the seller accepted an offer. So ID checks have to be carried out, a cheque on account has to be received and perhaps cleared, property deeds have to be found, terms of business have to be sent and acknowledged, and worst still, the seller has to be sent two legal documents to complete and return which all buyers are entitled to received as part of the contract papers.
Imagine the time all of this takes, and what if the seller's conveyancer then spots a defect by the seller's previous conveyancer which results in further delay. Any of this can put a buyer off proceeding, where they would otherwise have been happy had there not been all this delay, and the seller had instructed their conveyancing solicitor early.
Indeed, sound advice when considering which estate agent to use is to always ask for a recommendation from your conveyancer, as they work with them all and they know the better performers.
So instruct your conveyancing solicitor early, and keep the buyer on side and keen - particularly in this economic climate. The last thing a buyer needs is a reason to withdraw and buy a neighbour's property.
Yet it does not stop there. You can also avoid usual delays which typically crop up mid way into a conveyancing sale as the earlier you instruct your conveyancing solicitor the earlier you give them the chance - and so no excuse - to read your property deeds and look for likely defects/questions that a buyer's conveyancer might raise. They can then prepare you for what these might be, and you can both agree the steps to take to try and resolve them at this early stage - which means you can keep your eventual sale running nice and smoothly without hiccup.