Conveyancing solicitors comparison sites – would you seriously!?

03 Jun 2013

If you visit some websites for solicitor firms, you will quickly notice that they rarely advertise their prices for providing conveyancing services to home movers.

If they did, that would be to equate what conveyancing solicitors do to the simple sale of ‘goods’ such as a can of Branston baked beans, or a loaf of Kingsmill bread, where whatever shop you buy them from it remains the same product – just cheaper or more expensive.

Conveyancing is not a good, but in fact it is a service, and as we all know with any service, it is unique to the supplier and its quality can vary. Dramatically at times.

Every house sale or purchase is unique: the price, type of house, quality of title deeds, searches needed, parties involved in the legal chain, mortgage companies involved, defects made by previous lawyers needing fixing etc.

So advertising a price upfront on a website before taking an interest in the customer's own facts of what they want to do is a 'one size fits all' approach.
The reality is that few conveyancing solicitors will disrespect a home mover in this way. Few will go further and simply shout they do 'it' for the cheapest by being on a comparison website like buying car insurance. Even that is risky with the wildly ranging quality of exclusions that can apply unless you look at the fine print.

What conveyancing solicitors offer is by definite a unique service. No conveyancing solicitor will offer the exact same service. The ingredients within a conveyancing service will be of higher or lower quality. For instance:

  • Will they offer an actual solicitor to you, or a chartered legal executive? Or in fact do you receive someone quite anonymous, and perhaps with very inadequate legal training?
  • Will you find it difficult to reach your conveyancer by phone, or do they offer their personal phone number and email address?
  • Will they offer inflexible hours, by closing at lunch and dead on 5pm?
  • Are they too small a team, where illness and holidays may mean that your legal work grinds to a halt?
  • Are they a one trick pony, without colleagues in support who can offer legal advice in other areas of law which impact conveyancing (e.g. Wills, trusts, probate, disputes, family, employment)?

The fact is, the majority of conveyancing solicitors will not advertise a price for conveyancing, as they would at least invite the opportunity to not only discover what work is likely to be involved before they can quote a fee (e.g. is the property a freehold, or a more complicated leasehold, will it be more complicated because it is a newly built property, or perhaps for some less experienced conveyancers, they may want to charge more because it involves unregistered land) but they will also have more to offer the customer than their priority of pushing a price of how  ‘cheap’ they can be without knowing anything about the nature of the conveyancing, or even wanting to know. A worrying thought, and a disrespectful one too.

Indeed, the customer who is prepared to at least have a conversation with any of the conveyancing solicitors they may have discovered/had recommended to them, even before discovering their legal fees, may well save themselves £100s, by dodging a quote from a firm who was cheap on paper but ‘you wished you’d done some homework before going with them’.

When conveyancing solicitors can actually speak with potential customers, they can explain how their service will differ from the competition. And there certainly is competition in the market place, with conveyancers ranging wildly in quality.