Helpful advice when choosing your conveyancing solicitor

Published by: Emma Johnston

When selling your property, instructing a good solicitor can mean the difference between a smooth and easy sale, compared to a long and laborious one.  Here are a few tips to bear in mind when choosing a solicitor:

 WHEN? There is no harm in instructing a solicitor when you first go to the market, or even sooner.  That way you can be prepared for all of the documents you’ll need to dig out and your solicitor can arrange for you to complete the initial forms.
Remember… If you are unsure, ask your solicitor to check if your property is registered, if it is not, you will need to locate the title deeds.

WHERE? It makes sense to instruct a nearby solicitor as they should have a wealth of local knowledge.
Whilst important documents can be sent in the post (recorded of course), a solicitor close to you is more convenient when the contracts are ready for signing.
Remember… If you are a new client to a firm of solicitors, then you will need to take your ID to their office (or nearest branch to you) to be verified. 

WHO? If you are unsure who to instruct but an individual solicitor has been recommended by family, friends, even your estate agent or financial advisor, then go with it.
Remember… A firm may have a good reputation, but it’s the individual that counts, as they’ll be carrying out the work.  

 WHO TO AVOID? Be aware of ‘conveyancing factories’ that are usually based out of area.  Often you will be allocated to a team and will never speak to the same person twice.  You may also find that the file has to be signed off at the end of the transaction by the only qualified person in the team.

Remember… Larger firms’ quotes may appear cheap, but there can be hidden charges.

WHICH TYPE? Solicitor, Chartered Legal Executive or Licensed Conveyancer?  Providing the person has one of these recognised qualifications, they are all just as qualified to sell your house.
Remember… Check the experience of a solicitor- how long have they been qualified, are they used to dealing with registered titles, lease hold properties etc.

THE PERSONAL APPROACH When selling or buying, there is nothing worse than not being able to speak to your solicitor, (phones never answered, calls never returned).   So, if you are looking for a solicitor online, those who publicly show their (or their secretary’s) direct dial and email address are not shy of client contact.   Your solicitor should also be approachable as moving house is often a stressful experience.
Remember… Secretaries or assistants can be just as helpful with providing quotes, updates on your sale or passing important messages.

PROACTIVE If your solicitor is nothing else, ensure they are PROACTIVE.  A pro-active solicitor will speed up the transaction and should anticipate any queries that may arise.
Remember…  If you are in a chain, other solicitors acting for buyers and sellers may not be as efficient as yours.  Your estate agent should also be proactive in contacting all other solicitors in a chain ensuring the flow of communication.

COST  It is sensible to get a quote and anyone you approach should be able to give you a full breakdown of the fees- it is always important to ask for a full breakdown if you are comparing quotes.
Remember… The cheapest quote may not always be the best!