With stringent restrictions and quarantine protocols gripping the United Kingdom, it’s understandable to see the UK property market slowing down. After all, buying properties in the UK has never been a straightforward process, especially when it comes to conveyancing.
Even before COVID-19 forced a lot of people to go into isolation, navigating through the UK’s property laws have already been tricky. In fact, the whole conveyancing process can take up to 12 weeks—and that’s if there are no legal complexities involved! This is why the concept of online conveyancing is particularly attractive for people who want to limit physical contact with other people while also wanting to progress the property buying process.
How Does Online Conveyancing Work?
Apart from not getting to meet your conveyancer in person, the process of online conveyancing remains the same. They will still carry out local property searches, draft and exchange the contracts, and arrange a date for the completion. On top of that, they will still be working with the Land Registry to make you the legal owner of the property.
The only difference being that any meetings between the conveyancer and the client are done over online calls, video conferencing, and email. However, it should be worthy to note that online conveyancing firms are usually working with many clients at a single point in time! This allows online conveyancing firms to charge relatively low fees compared with traditional conveyancing solicitors.
The Advantages of Using Online Conveyancers
Here are five advantages of hiring online conveyancers to address your property buying needs.
It may not seem like a lot, but the process of scheduling and conducting personal appointments can actually take a lot of time. Between the city traffic, delays caused by busy schedules, and less than ideal locations, a supposed one-hour meeting can be pushed back, resulting in days or even weeks of wasted progress! Meanwhile, online conveyancers can set up a 15-minute call at your earliest convenience—and be back to progressing your process afterwards.
Additionally, because they specialise in property law, online conveyancing firms have systems in place to streamline the whole conveyancing process. This allows some online conveyancers to complete transactions in a month, whereas the industry average is usually at 12 weeks!
Generally, most of your document signing will be done electronically, which means you will no longer have to show up or send over physical documents signed with wet ink. Aside from contributing to the speed of transaction, it’s also cheaper!
Setting up appointments just to sign documents actually incurs costs, as you are using the services of your conveyancing solicitor in his or her time. Meanwhile, sending over digitally-signed documents does not incur hourly charges, and does away with scheduling issues.
Not all online conveyancing firms will have this, but some offer access to your own dashboard where you can review your conveyancing progress in real-time. Because the process is largely automated, you’re likely to be given an estimated date for completion, which allows you to plan your affairs accordingly.
This approach allows you to be on top of your conveyancing progress, which is a lot easier than trying to ask for updates from a traditional conveyancer or solicitor.
As mentioned, online conveyancing firms charge lower prices because they deal with many clients at any given time. Given that most conveyancing processes are repetitive, they have systems in place that allow them to work systematically and streamline most of the process.
Payment Only After Completion
Many online conveyancing firms will only ask for compensation after the completion of your conveyancing process. Aside from that, these payments are usually within the initially quoted range, which is in stark contrast to traditional conveyancing solicitors who will charge by the hour on top of their handling fees!
The Disadvantages of Using Online Conveyancers
Despite its merits, going with an online conveyancer also has its downsides. Sometimes your case may require more transparency, or its complexity may demand focus and attention, which are services that an online conveyancing firm may not be able to provide. Here are four disadvantages of going for online conveyancing firms.
Inability to deal with complexity
Depending on your exact circumstances and needs, online conveyancing may work wonders for you. This is especially true if you are not anticipating any legal complexities to crop up in your transactions. Because they specialise in streamlining rudimentary tasks, they can make a lot of progress in much shorter time frames compared to solicitors.
However, if your case involves a considerably complex process replete with overarching legal considerations, it may be best to go with traditional conveyancing solicitors. While their services are generally more expensive, they will also have the training and bandwidth to deal with complicated cases that require a tailored approach.
This is not to say that online conveyancers are not fit for the job. They are also regulated and licensed by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers and are trained to deal with all things property law. However, because they optimise for quick transactions, they may not readily take on more complicated cases.
Possibility of Conflicts of Interest
Depending on the specifics of your case, you may want to ensure that your legal representative is working solely for you. This is easier to determine if you are working with conveyancing solicitors, who are forbidden by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to work as a liaison between both buyers and sellers.
Technically, conveyancers do not operate with the same restrictions. However, the chances of colluding are rather low, given that online conveyancing firms work with a lot of customers.
Online conveyancing firms gain a bad reputation for providing low upfront costs that are laden with hidden costs in the fine print. To avoid any surprises, it’s best to ask for a full breakdown of their services to have a clearer understanding of the price you need to pay for their services.
The good thing is that if you find a specific firm’s price dubious, then you can simply find another firm using available conveyance calculators online—such as the one we provide here.
No Personal Interaction
If you’re used to the comfort of knowing who you are specifically interacting with, then you probably won’t feel comfortable with online conveyancing firms. In fact, they may not even have an office near you!
While some firms do give you a specific conveyancer as a contact person, this is the exception, not the rule. Most of the time, your specific case will be passed around several times by different conveyancers who are working within the same firm.
Working with an online conveyancing firm has its advantages, especially because of the ongoing pandemic. However, despite its merits, it is still possible to run into some risks. To ensure that you are working with a reputable firm, it’s best to do your research first.
One way to do that is by using a free conveyancing quote calculator—such as the one we have on our website! You can rest assured that the conveyancing quotes we provide come only from licensed conveyancers and solicitors throughout the country.
Conveyancing Calculator helps you make informed decisions by giving you free and instant online conveyancing quotes and fees to compare. We work only with solicitors and licensed conveyancers based in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Get a quote today!