Questions to ask a Conveyancing Solicitor before you instruct them

You wouldn’t employ a key member of staff without interviewing them first – and the same should go for instructing your conveyancing solicitor.

Before signing on the dotted line, there are a few things you should be asking a potential conveyancer to find out if they’re the right one for you.

Show me the money

Just like any other area of industry, charges for conveyancing differ from company to company and from city to city.  Your conveyancing fees should include third party costs including stamp duty and local authority searches as well as your conveyancer’s hourly rate (if applicable).  Make sure that you ask for itemized quotes. As of the 6th December 2018, the Solicitors Regulation Authority have brought in new regulations meaning all conveyancers and solicitors should now advertise their fees on their website. The idea of this initiative is to put an end to the hidden fees the industry is riddled with. That said, the practicalities of how this will be implemented are to be seen.

Money for nothing

In an ideal world, your purchase would go ahead without a hitch and, before you know it, you’re making friends with your new neighbors.  Unfortunately, it’s not always that straightforward and, it is possible that, despite your best efforts, the sale will fall through.  Before instructing your Conveyancing Solicitor, you need to ask what charges you will be liable for if the sale doesn’t happen.

When will my conveyancing fees be due?

During the process of buying a property, budgets are often tight so, it’s a good idea to find out when your conveyancing solicitor will expect payment – this can make a big difference to your budget as some expect payment on exchange and, others on completion.  That said, almost any firm will require some fees upfront to get started with the transaction.

Who will be doing the work?

The firm you have shortlisted might have come recommended to you by an estate agent or a mortgage broker. Don’t feel free to ask them the question about what their relationship with the agent or the broker is. Most of the time, there will be a referral arrangement in place. Though this is common practice, it is important you ensure that whoever you instruct has no conflict of interest in acting on your behalf.

Not all solicitors and lawyers are made equal.

Although a potential conveyancer may have racked up a good few years in the business, it’s possible that he or she has not worked on a case like yours before.  Make sure that you ask about his or her relevant experience before going ahead. An easy way to explain this predicament is the fact that you wouldn’t have a plumber carry out an electrician’s job despite both of them working in the building trade.

With the internet, life has become so much easier for the prospective property purchaser where you can now easily find specialist conveyancing firms such as Express Conveyancing who operate a panel of high street law firms, all specializing in property law.

What memberships do you hold?

All conveyancing firms must be a member of at least one professional organisation such as the Law Society, Council or Licensed Conveyancers, Institute of Legal Executives or the SRA.  A company’s regulators details should be easily located on their stationary or website.

Are they mortgage lender approved?

In many cases, mortgage lenders will only work with conveyancing solicitors who are on their own approved panel so you need to check this before appointing a conveyancer as, if not approved, you may face extra charges or, your mortgage lender may even withdraw their offer.

How can I check feedback?

A professional and reputable firm or individual will take pride in their work – and will be happy to direct you to reviews from previous customers.

What are your dispute procedures?

Hopefully you won’t need this one but, before you agree to work with a conveyancer, it’s a good idea to know the procedure for complaints / disputes should anything go wrong.  If a potential conveyancing solicitor is not able to immediately hand you details of the procedure, proceed with caution!

Although it may feel like you’re interrogating a potential conveyancing solicitor, remember that you are considering paying a lot of money for a service – and you’re entitled to know what you’ll be getting!