Who actually instructs my conveyancing solicitor to handle my house move?

23 Apr 2013

You do. That is if you are the owner and looking to sell or buy, as you are the client of the conveyancing solicitor and they must only take instructions from you.

However, there can often be confusion where conveyancing solicitors suddenly out of the blue receive estate agent details of a sale or purchase an with no prior contact from the client of their intentions. A week or more can then be lost by the time the client naturally explains ‘oh I thought the estate agent would tell you I am selling/buying’.

Of course the proactive conveyancing solicitors will try to contact the client mentioned in the estate agent details, but that is not always possible in the case of ex-directory telephone numbers, and so a letter may have to be written, losing time.

As a result, the best advice for anyone thinking of selling or buying a property is to instruct their conveyancing solicitor as soon as possible, as this achieves two things:

1.  A conveyancing file can be opened up, and administrative tasks can be dealt with – so as not to delay the commencing of the eventual legal work when a offer is agreed (e.g. ID checks, signatures to terms of business, locating title deeds). In this way, the conveyancing solicitor will never receive an estate agent letter out of the blue.

2.  The earlier a conveyancing solicitor is instructed in a sale, the earlier they can set about reviewing the property deeds for any mistakes by the seller’s previous conveyancer. Mistakes are sadly quote common, perhaps because cheap legal prices were paid for the previous conveyancer, or low quality service by the previous conveyancers who may have been ‘sold’ to the seller by the estate agent in return for heavy cash-back payments, rather than a genuine motivation to refer good quality conveyancers.

If mistakes are spotted before an offer is accepted, they can be dealt with and save any delay later in the legal process, often taking too long to solve and causing a buyer to withdraw.

And remember, instructing a conveyancing solicitor early is no more costly, as almost all will offer a fixed fee for the whole sale or purchase.