Conveyancers – too slow?

07 Jul 2014

Moving home is highly emotional.  You agree an offer and you want to move in/out to a timescale that you want.  Sadly, this is rarely possible.  First a buyer must finalise their mortgage.  This can run into weeks of paper pushing.  They will also arrange a survey which can take place often a week or ten days.  And in parallel with both of these they will (as you will too) employ a conveyancer.

But how do you choose a decent conveyancer?

Do you end up with a named lawyer throughout, or a factory style conveyancing belt operation with a multitude of people dabbling with your legal work?  And who are very junior or their legal training/qualification is not a prime motivation due to the cheap fee they are charging? Does the legal outfit charge too low a fee to take much interest in your move?  Are you herded to a conveyancer who pays the Estate Agent cash in hand to buy your business irrespective of how good the conveyancer is?

These all play a part in how promptly you will move home.

One tactic to speed up the process, is to agree target dates for both exchange and completion.  This focuses the conveyancers and can embarrass them into action whenever they are reminded throughout the transaction.

Another tactic is to research potential conveyancers yourself.  Who is likely to focus on you and your welfare?  Whose main strap line on any promotional material/website is how cheap they are as opposed to whether you feel confident in using them (i.e. do they demonstrate expertise, are their lawyers promoted on their website rather than hidden away and anonymous?).

So pick well.

However, to be fair to conveyancers, it is true to say that they are not there to be told to jump as they do carry considerable risk at all times in providing you with accurate legal advice.  Rush them and errors can arise.  They carry risk of error to you, but also if you have a mortgage lender they will have a duty to that lender who is also 'buying' your property and who often has very inflexible views on how thorough the legal investigations must be – and quite rightly so.  You may take a view on a particular issue but your lender will almost never.

So a conveyancer can be blameless if there is an issue and they need extra time to solve it.

Consequently, if you pick your conveyancer well, depending on restraints from a mortgage company, you should otherwise be able to encourage them into action both yourself and of course ensuring that your own Estate Agent takes an interest in the chain of lawyers and does not just stop being involved once an offer has been accepted.