Choosing the best conveyancer who is right for you
A recent survey by conveyancing software company InfoTrack shows that more of us are shopping around for legal services. If you are buying or selling a house, you may search for the ‘best’ conveyancing deal, just as you would for your car insurance or gas supply.
Online conveyancers often appear to offer the cheapest option, but are they the best? Here Teresa Scoular, a residential property conveyancer with Parnalls Solicitors, looks at the growth of conveyancing factories, their pros and cons, and what you should consider if you are tempted to use one.
Conveyancing factories, a new development
Traditionally, the legal work necessary for transferring ownership of a property is carried out by specialist conveyancing lawyers who have undergone several years of rigorous training. Based locally, often in a high street firm of solicitors, they have extensive experience of acting for buyers and sellers in a particular area across a range of property types.
However, an increasing number of home buyers are now opting to use so-called conveyancing factories. These are firms offering high-volume low-cost conveyancing. Typically, the service will be remote, process driven and relies upon a high level of automation.
In a recent report on conveyancing complaints, Losing the Plot, the Legal Ombudsman acknowledges that such services can be attractive to consumers. However, he also draws attention to a number of risks for customers and it is important you consider all the pros and cons when choosing who should do your conveyancing.
Problems with a conveyancing factory
Conveyancing factories offer low prices by driving their cost base down, which also means they have several disadvantages:
- they employ a higher proportion of junior, less qualified, staff;
- staff turnover can be high;
- your transaction may be dealt with by anyone in the team resulting in a lack of continuity and familiarity;
- although the office may be open for extended hours, each time you call you may find yourself speaking to a different person who may not know your case;
- the work is highly standardised and very process-driven, so staff may struggle if your transaction is unusual or a problem arises; and
- buying or selling your home can be a very stressful experience, and you may miss the reassurance and personal touch which having your own dedicated solicitor can bring.
Writing in The Telegraph, Kirstie Allsopp laments the rise of ‘conveyancing factories where no one knows what they’re doing and unless a case is perfect, they can’t process it.’
In the report, the Legal Ombudsman questions whether conveyancing factories, with their tendency to compartmentalise, are really good for consumers, particularly where complexities arise. Their remoteness and one size fits all approach could be reflected in a higher volume of conveyancing complaints.
A specialist conveyancer with local knowledge can help you keep your transaction on track and avoid expensive pitfalls. They will know about issues particular to your location, which may not be apparent to someone working hundreds of miles away and relying on a generic checklist. For example, some areas require specialist searches, others may be subject to issues such as rent charges or affected by infrastructure projects like HS2.
Most importantly though, having a dedicated conveyancer who knows you, and your transaction, personally can take a lot of the pressure out of moving house. They will be familiar with local estate agents and other solicitors in the area, so will be well placed to deal with any unexpected issues as they arise. This can be particularly beneficial if your sale or purchase forms part of a chain of linked transactions.
Many conventional firms have also positively embraced technology, accessing services online, using case management systems, and minimising turnaround times. Price transparency is now a requirement of all solicitors’ firms, who should also publish details of typical timescales and details of the qualifications and experience of their staff. A local solicitor can provide a service, which is as modern and efficient as their online counterpart, but more personalised.
Ultimately, choosing your conveyancer is a very personal matter. However, before making a decision, speak to the person who will be responsible for your sale or purchase, and do not be afraid to ask questions. What are their qualifications? How experienced are they, will they be dedicated to your transaction, or will you have to deal with many different case workers? How easy will they be to contact? Most importantly, ask yourself how confident you are that they will really look after the biggest purchase of your life.
For further information on buying or selling your home, please contact Teresa Scoular on 01566 772375 or email email@example.com
The contents of this article are for purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
Has your personal information been shared without your permission?
Planning your escape to the country, what you need to consider – part 2
Government consultation on new national model for shared ownership
Choosing a partnership structure
Planning for what happens when you die by Deborah Adams
Changes to legislation could offer protection for tenants in the private rental sector
Move to the country - Part One
The risks of DIY probate
Will your septic tank still be legal in January?
The death knell for ‘kiss and tell’?
Making a will when you retire
Selling your property at auction
Not looking so good - your guide to compensation for botched non-surgical cosmetic procedures
New threshold of seriousness in defamation proceedings
Legal considerations when building a granny annex
Choosing the right person for your power of attorney
Formal Interviews - Do you need legal representation?
Privacy rights and aerial images
Trustees’ duty to give information to beneficiaries
Five problems with a leasehold property
Taking your first commercial lease
Is your organisation protected from employee social media legal risk?
Have you been targeted by negative social media posts?
Farmers be alert when being inspected
Help for House Sellers?
Don’t let your digital assets end up in a digital grave
Valuing an estate for probate
Development proposals and your local authority search
What can you do if your child is injured in a serious accident
NetRights welcomes new protection for social media users
SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR A SPEEDING OFFENCE?
Supreme Court recognises that social media is a “casual medium” in libel battle
Choosing the best conveyancer who is right for you
Making a will after a second or subsequent marriage
Option or promotion agreement – which is best for landowners?
Anonymous pub and restaurant online reviews leave a bad taste
Have you had an accident involving a horse?
Help to Buy – beware of some cracks in the structure
Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney
Changes to Energy Performance Certificate for Landlords
Had a cycling accident? Your route to obtaining compensation
New year, new home: tips to sell your home in the New Year
Tax Planning for your inheritance
Hearing loss: when your employer may be liable
Buying a home for your retirement, five things you need to consider
Farmers plan to diversify after Brexit
Ministers press ahead with probate fee shake-up - reports BBC News
Botched dental treatment? You may be entitled to compensation
Why a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is a good idea
Will the new charge on building developments in Cornwall affect you?
Energy Performance Certificates – Do They Matter?
HMRC Challenging Stamp Duty Land Tax Payments
Ben Mitchell qualifies as a solicitor
The potential implications of Brexit on employment law
Appointing a guardian for your children
Houses in multiple occupation – new rules from October 2018
New Agriculture Bill published
Will Brexit affect my pension?
Dreaming of a holiday home? Sort out the legals before putting your feet up
Lasting Power of Attorney by Deborah Adams
Settled status after Brexit by Alexis Hager
How to choose an executor to administer your estate when you die
How overage agreements can boost profits from your land
Top tips for first-time buyers
How Could Brexit Affect My Farm?
Wills & Succession in Spain by Deborah Adams
Brexit – an international and local view by Alexis Hager, Litigation
Capital gains tax - important facts for non-residents of the UK
Buying a home: the importance of making sure the seller is entitled to sell
Changing a will after someone has died: it is possible and it could save you money
Your responsibilities when you have people working in your home
Sad passing of Battle of Britain pilot who served with Parnall family member
Considerations when buying a heritage property
Disciplinary proceedings at work: guide for employers
Employers should have a disciplinary process in place, but just following this may not be enough to avoid falling foul of the law and exposing yourself to the risk of an employment tribunal claim.