For those who plan to buy or sell a property in the next year, there are some things you can do now to help your property transaction go more smoothly.
If you really want to hit the ground running, having already appointed your conveyancer will mean you’ll be ready to go as soon as you’ve found the property you want to buy.
Conveyancing, the legal work undertaken during a property purchase, is a specialist area of the law, and by choosing a conveyancer best suited to your specific purchase, you can help to ease some of the stress involved.
So, how do you choose your conveyancer? Stephen Ward, director of strategy at the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has these five top tips.
1. Check the Conveyancer’s Regulatory Status
Check that the firm you are considering using is regulated by one of the legal sector regulators. There are two regulators, namely: The Council for Licensed Conveyancers and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Particularly if there is a mortgage involved you will need a regulated lawyer/firm to do your conveyancing for you. Regulation ensures that, should something go wrong, you will be protected and have a clear way to seek redress.
2. Consider different kinds of conveyancers
It’s worth thinking about whether the way the firm works with clients suits your needs and what experience they have in dealing with transactions like yours. Do think about how you want the service delivered.
Will you find it easier to deal with someone mostly online and by email, or would you value being able to pop in for face-to-face conversations? It can be convenient to deal with people online, but some people prefer the ability to see their conveyancer face-to-face. Make sure you choose a firm that works the way that suits you best.
3. Consider quality, not just price
While it is important to ensure you receive a full and clear quote of costs from conveyancers you are considering using, price shouldn’t be the only factor in your decision on who to appoint.
Recommendations from family and friends are a good indicator of a quality service, as are reviews on sites such as Trustpilot and Feefo. The quality of the service you will receive will be far more important to your peace of mind than cost.
Do be aware that estate agents can receive a fee if they refer you to a conveyancing firm. You don’t have to use who they recommend and are fully at liberty to choose the conveyancer who best suits your requirements.
4. Check what’s included in the price
All property lawyers are required to publish price, service and quality information on their websites, as part of an industry wide push to empower consumers and foster innovation and competition across the legal services market.
Homebuyers can expect all property lawyers to now display the following on their website:
- Cost information in a prominent place. Lawyers are required to provide examples of their fees that cover a broad range of services and transaction types including conveyancing.
- Service information. This will include information on conveyancing timescales and possibly third-party feedback.
- Regulatory information. You should be able to easily identify who regulates the firm you are hiring. For lawyers regulated by the CLC, this includes displaying the CLC secure badge in a prominent place.
- Complaints process. All lawyers will have to display details of their complaints process, including access to the Legal Ombudsman and redress information.
- Referral details. While lawyers do not need to disclose specific details of referral arrangements on their website, they must say if they enter into such agreements and the average fee, or range of fees, they pay.
Even if your chosen property lawyer doesn’t have a website, it doesn’t mean they are exempt from the new rules. They must still provide ‘other reasonable means on request’ which could include email, post or leaflets.
5. Look beyond your agent’s recommended conveyancer
Once a price has been agreed for a house sale, estate agents will often recommend a conveyancer for you to use. If you don’t know who you will be appointing this can be a useful starting point in looking for a firm, but you should still shop around.
A survey carried out by YouGov found that three in five homebuyers who used a conveyancer recommended by their estate agent didn’t know if the lawyer was paying a fee for this recommendation.
This is an area that the Government has been watching closely. Your estate agent should tell you if they are receiving a fee for the recommendation, and your conveyancer is also required to do so. If they don’t mention it, make sure you ask them so that you understand exactly where your money is going.
The CLC is the regulator of specialist property lawyers. For more information visit www.conveyancer.org.uk