Buying or selling a house is exciting. It usually denotes some kind of new chapter in both parties’ lives and is an anticipation filled time.
Which also makes it one of the most stressful times of most peoples’ lives. The best way to tackle the whole thing, particularly if you’re a first timer, is methodically and carefully. Research every part and don’t be swayed into making decisions until you are ready.
Conveyancer or no conveyancer?
Some people choose to cut out the property solicitor (conveyancer) and manage the conveyancing process themselves to save money. This is an option, but it is a high risk option. It’s generally a better idea to use the professionals and instruct a qualified property solicitor.
How to choose a conveyancer
Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s important to know the kinds of things your conveyancer will do in exchange for your hard earned cash. They will:
- Draw up or explain the legal contract to you
- Check the legal title of the property for you
- Conduct local searches
- Deal with Land Registry
- Manage stamp duty charges and payments
- Manage the collection and transfer of funds
- Provide legal advice and recommendations.
How much do they cost?
There’s no short answer to this; some will charge a fixed fee, others a percentage based on the value of the property in question. There also may be extra fees to cover paperwork, any complex issues that may take time and disbursements (costs like postage, VAT etc).
It’s best to get a few quotes (at least three) and make an assessment. Costs can vary enormously, depending on what’s involved and the value of the property.
Tempting as it may be, it’s not the best idea to automatically go for the cheapest as it may indicate a number of things:
- They could be overloaded with work, which may mean a slow or poor service.
- They could be very junior – not in itself a terrible thing but you do want to make sure you have their full attention and that nothing important is missed.
Choose one who speaks plain English!
Make sure you fully understand everything in detail – and in layman’s terms. If you find the solicitor bamboozling you with jargon then don’t go with them. You need to keep on top of what you are paying for and the steps that are being taken.
It’s often a good idea to get a local solicitor who knows the local area well. It could be useful to have one that’s nearby so you can deal with them in person at various stages throughout the process.
A great way to make your final selection is to get a recommendation through a friend, although this isn’t completely fool proof, as it is important to work with a solicitor you feel comfortable with.
You can also look for industry accreditations such as the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). The scheme is a recognised quality standard for residential Conveyancing practices and one that you can look out for when selecting a Conveyancer. The Conveyancing Qulaity Scheme requires practices to undergo a strict assessment, compulsory training, self reporting, random audits and annual reviews in order to maintain CQS status. It is open only to members of the Law Society and to those who meet the demanding standards the scheme will set and has the support of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the Building Societies Association, and the Association of British Insurers.
Claire Weatherly-Wright, who leads Hethertons’ team of Conveyancing Solicitors in York , says: “Hethertons are delighted to have secured CQS status. It is recognition of the high standards we provide to our residential property clients and is a signal to future home buyers of the excellent service level we provide at what is often a stressful time for many people.
“The overall beneficiaries will be clients who use Hethertons when buying a home. They will receive a reliable, efficient service as recognised by the CQS standard.”
A quality conveyancer will help the make the transaction process as smooth as possible and help reduce the stress that many face at this time.