15 May Your conveyancer: How to choose the right one when buying/selling your home
Choosing your conveyancer is a crucial part of the process of buying or selling a property. Pick the wrong one and you could find yourself landed with extra costs or even see your sale or purchase fall through.
One in five complaints to the Legal Ombudsman is now about residential conveyancing, making it the most complained about area of law.
In the past year, the Ombudsman has helped consumers recover around £800,000 due to “sloppy” legal work that resulted in delays, bad advice and demands from HMRC for unpaid stamp duty.
The housing boom is believed to be behind the recent increase in conveyancing cases brought to the Ombudsman, with some lawyers delivering poor service as they struggle to keep up with demand.
Sarah Cassidy, founder of Place estate agents, says there are a number of things to keep in mind when choosing your conveyancer.
Here are Sarah’s top tips to help buyers and sellers find the right conveyancer and ensure the smooth transfer of the legal ownership of their property.
Ask for recommendations: If you have not used a conveyancer before ask family, friends or colleagues about their experiences and if they know of a good one. You could also use a conveyancer recommended by your estate agent. Sarah explains: “At Place, we work very well with the solicitor that we recommend because we can push them and they always return emails and keep us informed of progression.”
Beware of rockbottom quotes: You may get a cheap quote only to find your final bill is much higher – make sure the quote includes VAT and any additional fees. Also, low prices may be a sign that a conveyancer is handling a high volume of transactions, which could mean a slow or poor quality service.
Check for “hidden extras”: Known as “disbursements”, these are expenses that your conveyancer has incurred on your behalf. They can include search costs, land registry fees, money transfer fees, photocopy charges, phone calls, postage and filing in your Stamp Duty return, to name a few. Some disbursements are legitimate but others are rip offs.
Think carefully about one-man bands: Opting for a conveyancer who operates alone can be a risky strategy. Sarah points out: “When they are ill or go on holiday work often stops.” Ask if your conveyancer has back-up arrangements if for some reason he or she is absent or overwhelmed with work.
Online conveyancers vs local solicitors: In the pre-internet age, local solicitors used to have a monopoly on conveyancing. Now there are many online firms offering conveyancing services at competitive rates. Sarah advises getting recommendations for online firms. She says some have “hundreds of cases and don’t really care about the client or how fast they complete the work”. It is worth bearing in mind that local solicitors know more about the area, the type of searches required and whether there are any pending developments in the neighbourhood that you are not aware of, all of which could save you time and money in the long run.
Sarah Cassidy founded Place in 2009. After years of experience in estate agency, she understood that the way people shop for property was changing and she wanted to create a modern business model, using today’s technology, combined with exceptional standards of good old-fashioned customer service, plus lots of extras.
Contact us if you’re thinking of selling your home or planning a move in Chalfont St Peter, Chalfont St Giles, Gerrards Cross, Rickmansworth and Beaconsfield. Www.a-place.co.uk.
Call us on: tel: 01494 873663.