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Five things to consider when selecting a Conveyancing Solicitor.

Your solicitor will carry out a number of tasks for you when you move home.

The general tasks the solicitor will deal with are:

  • Preparing a contract for sale and assessing a contract for purchase
  • Raising queries in respect of the Legal Title and asking various questions about your proposed purchase
  • Undertaking Local Searches
  • Completing the Stamp Duty Land Tax form and paying the Stamp Duty to HMRC
  • Dealing with your deposit and the proceeds of the mortgage
  • Notifying and updating the Land Registry

Choosing the right solicitor is vital to help minimise stress and delays. What considerations should you make when selecting a solicitor?

Cost - Basing your decision purely on cost is likely to cause all sorts of problems further down the line.  A low cost solicitor is likely to be handling high volumes of business which can impact on the quality of work they undertake and can also make them difficult to contact. Low cost solicitors may have made cut backs with their support staff which can have a detrimental impact on the service you receive.

BE CAREFUL! – Very low quotes may sometimes hide hidden extras. Be clear that your quote includes all postage and telephone calls and these are not charged as ‘extras’.

EXTRA FEES - We have seen a Birmingham Solicitor quote that appeared very low, the small print states ‘Additional Work – Acting for a lender in registering their charge, £300 + VAT’. In this example, if you are taking out a mortgage, an additional fee of £300 is levied by the solicitor for dealing with the mortgage. Suddenly a cheap quote looked very expensive! Make sure you fully understand a quote before instructing a solicitor purely based on price.

No move, No fee - Unfortunately, trying to buy or sell and property can sometimes go wrong. Be clear what charge will be made if your sale or purchase fails to go ahead. Some solicitors work on a no move, no fee basis but might charge extra for this.

Communication and Availability – Imagine the frustration further down the line when trying to get hold of your solicitor with some urgent news or looking for an update and they aren’t available. The quote stage is a good starting point for how easy you find contacting the solicitor, how quickly they returned your call and how quickly they sent you a quote.

Is meeting the solicitor an option? – Many solicitors will send contracts and paperwork through the post, which for many people is fine. There may be times when you don’t feel confident with the terminology or you want to ask some questions. Check if the solicitor will let you have a face to face meeting to sign the contract. If this is likely to be important to you, make sure you check this before you instruct a solicitor. As this takes extra time out of the solicitor’s diary, you should be prepared to pay a little more if they give you the option of a face to face meeting.

Is the solicitor local? – There are benefits to using a local solicitor. It can save a lot of time if you use a solicitor with a good understanding of local laws and issues. Using a solicitor local to your home or work means you can save time by hand delivering documents, if you so desire. If you need to deliver documents urgently or you need to visit the solicitor to iron out a problem, then this is far easier with a local solicitor than a firm based out of area.

Conveyancing Quality Scheme CQS Accreditation
– All mortgage lenders maintain a ‘panel’ of approved solicitors. This means the lender must have approved the conveyancer to allow them to carry out work on the lender’s behalf. The Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) provides a recognised quality standard for Residential Conveyancing practices. In our experience, a solicitor that is CQS accredited is far more likely to be acceptable to a mortgage lender than a firm that is not CQS accredited.

Oak Tree Mortgages work closely with a number of local solicitors who we would be happy to introduce you to. As we have an ongoing business relationship with the solicitors we recommend, the solicitor has a vested interest in ensuring the clients we refer receive a good service. It’s reassuring to know that your mortgage broker and your solicitor are working closely to ensure your move is as smooth as possible.