Choosing the wrong conveyancer and the wrong estate agent

15 Jul 2015

Which is worse, choosing the wrong conveyancer or the wrong estate agent? Both can cost you financially, and in terms of stress.

But when you come to moving home, making the wrong choice is incredibly easy.

Take the choice of an estate agent. You might be forgiven for thinking, “but they only list the property on Rightmove, I could do that.” Sadly, you might be right, with some estate agents, especially when it is a seller’s market, with a plentiful supply of buyers. However, even then, there is huge scope for a good estate agent, who will squeeze the buyer for maximum price especially between competing buyers.

But sadly for the public, the choice between estate agents in any given town is probably quite extensive. The temptation is to think the above statement, and then compound the error by then looking out the cheapest estate agent. By doing so, you overlook crucial differences between estate agents such as the following:

1.     Some overvalue to just obtain your business, lock you into a contract for many many weeks and then fail to deliver their promises

2.     They fail to provide any feedback after a viewing

3.     They are late for viewings or make cancellations with no warning. Or just fail to show up.

4.     They let anyone view your property, even those whose own property is not even on the market (in other words they fail to vet the buyers)

4.     They are totally silent during the legal process (they stop being involved on finding a buyer)

5.     Their staff, who handle the viewings, are not up to the job

6.     Great to the seller, but buyers can never get hold of them (e.g certain online agents)

7.     Some estate agents are required by their HQ to herd buyers to very poor performing conveyancers because the conveyancers pay the estate agent a lot of money to do so

8.    Some push buyers to see their in-house mortgage adviser and even suggest their offer will not be made known to the seller until they do…putting buyers off making an offer

9.    Some consistently give unrealistic expectations about the chain and how ready everyone is

10.  Many do not understand the conveyancing process, and yet phone conveyancers for updates but offer nothing helpful in return, adding to the lawyers’ job

11.    Many suggest they advertise in all their national branches, when they do not.

13.    Any those who offer very low commission have less incentive to secure you the best price from a buyer

Facing any of the above can lose you a buyer, delay your sale (possibly causing it to abort) and so cost you £10,000s.

Conveyancers witness such differences in estate agents on a daily basis, as they work with so many, and of course our own clients provide valuable feedback.

The same cause for concern is true for your choice of conveyancer. Never should the choice come down to price as the mediocre conveyancers know that a cheap price is highly attractive to some people, and the public can walk straight into the trap.

Yet unless you know the common differences between conveyancers, you too, may just think ‘cheap is great’, again overlooking the fact that any conveyancer can be cheap, but why are they cheap and what does your £ not secure you in return.

Here are just a few examples of the differences in quality between conveyancers:

– Does the conveyancer have a law degree, or any legal qualification?

– Is the conveyancing team really just 'high street' or is their legal firm full of other expert lawyers who can provide the fullest advice to you – as moving house can impact so many other areas of law (e.g. employment, family, trusts, partnership/company, wills, tax)?

– Does their website hide the conveyancing team rather than promoting the full details about the lawyers and even their secretaries – actual accountability/

– Will you receive one named conveyancer start to finish?

– Will you receive their direct email and telephone number?

– Will they be available – or in fact frequently directing you to their assistant / secretary?

– Do they close at lunch and dead at 5pm; are they too small to cover holiday and absences?

– Is their charging transparent and clear, or do they attempt to disguise hidden charges/pure profit in their quotes with such things as: filling in a stamp duty form, dealing with unregistered land, acting for a mortgage lender / repaying a mortgage?

– Are they active on social media, imparting the need for quality, or are they silent and anonymous?

A mediocre conveyancer can mean a slow house move, or even one that aborts. Also, legal errors, a ‘knock on the door’ when you move in, legal difficulties on remortgaging and on resale.

Hopefully the above tips can help you secure expert value for money.