Owning a property is a long, tedious process. There’s paperwork to do, property inspections, talking to the right people, and so on. For these reasons, speaking to the right people if you’re looking to purchase a property is critical and cannot be expedited.
Real estate agents are the primary contact persons whenever someone intends to purchase a property. However, they’re not the only people involved in property buying—solicitors and conveyancers are also essential.
It’s no secret that real estate agents can be pretty easy to find, but you will have to search for a competent solicitor or conveyancer. We tell you everything there is to know about solicitors and conveyancers. Read on below to learn more.
The Work of Solicitors and Conveyancers
The work of solicitors and conveyancers fall very much in line with that of the real estate agents. They deal in the real estate industry, but the difference is that solicitors and conveyancers deal with anything related to legal affairs when it comes to property.
Additionally, there’s still a fine line between solicitors and conveyancers as well. A conveyancer’s work primarily involves legal affairs and property transfers. On the other hand, a solicitor’s work is the same, but they have more knowledge of legal aspects of real estate. In short, solicitors are full-time lawyers.
Generally, conveyancers may or may not have a law degree. However, they would still need to be certified to be able to practice conveyancing.
Finding the Right Solicitor or Conveyancer
There is no single, clear-cut way for you to choose a solicitor or conveyancer. However, an essential thing that you should take note of first is their competency and experience. If you’re unsure where to find them, you can always ask family and friends for recommendations.
Aside from that, you can also look them up online as well. It’s also important to note that it’s not a requirement for you to find a solicitor or conveyancer in the same area as you or your property. Let’s say you’re buying a property in London: your solicitor or conveyancer doesn’t necessarily need to be from London as well.
What to Ask Your Solicitor or Conveyancer
Before hiring a solicitor or conveyancer, it’s recommended that you compare them so that you’ll get the most out of your deal. Aside from that, communicating with them is also vital.
If you’re unsure of what to ask your solicitor or conveyancer, below are some essential questions.
“How Much Will Be Charged?”
The costs for a solicitor or conveyancer’s fees will depend on the type of property that you intend to purchase. Since prices vary, it’s recommended that you get at least three pricing quotes. For London properties, this is more important because the costs of the property itself differ significantly.
You should also remember that basic legal fees will be higher for some property types than others. These property types include:
Buy to Let
Right to Buy
Help to Buy
Before your solicitor or conveyancer provides you with a quote, they will always ask what type of property you’re buying first. If they don’t, check the small print regarding additional costs.
When reviewing your quote, expect to see two things:
Your solicitor’s/conveyancer’s basic fees with VAT
Itemised disbursements, also known as the extra cost they’ll pay to other people on your behalf and will pass on to you. These disbursements include search fees, Land Registry Fees, and Stamp Duty Land Tax
If you want to save up a bit on the costs, it’s best to choose a fixed-fee service. This service lets you pay only the amount quoted when you agree with your solicitor or conveyancer.
“What Are the Services That You Offer?”
As stated earlier, solicitors and conveyancers deal with legal affairs when it comes to buying property. Since this is the case, the line tends to be blurry and causes confusion whenever you need to hire one.
If your property purchase is straightforward, a conveyancer will be able to handle it. However, it becomes a different story if your property purchase is more complicated, such as the property being tied with a divorce. If this is the case, a solicitor is better equipped to handle the whole deal. Additionally, a solicitor can also help with handling your purchase of a new property or off-plan purchase.
“How Long Will Everything Take?”
A conveyancing process typically takes between 8 to 12 weeks. For specific cases, however, the process can be streamlined for a quicker turnover. On the other hand, it will take longer if you’re in a chain or buying off-plan.
Since the entire process deals with legal affairs, your conveyancer, solicitor, seller, or even the property developer’s solicitor will require you to review, sign, and return various documents in certain stages.
You can ask them what can be done to speed things up. Your solicitor or conveyancer should be able to provide you with information regarding potential delays as you go through the process.
“Who Will I Be Dealing With?”
Since you’re buying a property, it’s a guarantee that there will be other people involved. However, your primary point of contact is your solicitor or conveyancer. Make sure to establish rapport with them so that you will be able to discuss certain matters better.
Aside from that, you can also ask them who will be handling your case on a day-to-day basis. Since you’ll be talking with many people, make sure you choose a firm with extensive experience. You should also ask about their operating hours during holidays, which is essential if you plan to go along during those days.
“How Often Would I Be Updated?”
Your solicitor or conveyancer must be in regular contact with you. The best question to ask them is what their preferences are when it comes to keeping in touch. You should also think about your preferred method as well. Below are some examples:
Face-to-face and mobile contact
Online communication, such as e-mails
Online tracking system
Another factor to consider is whether you want to be updated every step of the way or simply be updated every time a major milestone is achieved.
“What Will Happen If the Purchase Falls Through?”
Purchases that fall through are not uncommon and may be caused by a variety of factors. These include gazumping, where a seller may accept a higher offer from a different buyer despite transacting with a prior buyer. A more common reason is that sellers simply changed their minds.
Whatever the case, your most significant loss is that you spent money on your solicitor or conveyancer. Luckily, some firms work on a ‘no-completion, no fee’ basis. If you hire a solicitor or conveyancer that works on that basis, you won’t have to pay for legal fees aside from expenses incurred on your behalf.
This doesn’t just protect you, but it’s also an incentive for your solicitor or conveyancer to work faster to close the deal. It’s just a matter of finding the right firm that works on a no-completion, no fee basis.
“Are You Regulated by a Governing Body?”
If you take your time in researching and hiring a good firm, you’ll likely receive satisfactory service. If you do receive bad service, a complaint is necessary.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority is what regulates solicitors. For conveyancers, they are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. Both governing bodies have clear procedures if ever you wish to file a complaint. If your chosen firm is not regulated, you should consider hiring a different one.
Hiring solicitors and conveyancers are a vital part of real estate buying that should not be overlooked. Their work deals in legal matters related to real estate, so hiring them will take a load off your mind. Make sure to communicate everything properly with them so that you won’t miss anything. More importantly, make sure to keep this guide in mind`!
Conveyancing Calculator is an online service that provides you with computing average conveyancing fees in the UK. This will help you compare price quotes easier if ever you’re buying property. Simply go to our website to get started!