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The perils and pitfalls of choosing a solicitor or conveyancer – You get what you pay for

Feb 2019

For those of you who are new to the house buying game, as the title says, choosing a solicitor to do your legal work can be very challenging to say the least. There are two types of people that can do the legal work for you, the first is a “licensed conveyancer” and the second is a “solicitor”. Both of these groups will do the same job but a firm of solicitors will usually have a dedicated conveyancing department to deal with selling, buying property, lease extensions, probate and remortgage and equity transfers. Some buyers and sellers look online to compare the prices for these services and although this does seem logical to ensure that you get a good price for this service, as an estate agent of 20 years I can tell you that this is probably the worst thing possible for you to do. If you cannot go in to see the person dealing with this, do not use them. During any property transaction there will be a lot of issues that get raised and have to be answered before contracts can be exchanged, usually this entails lots of running around trying to get the relevant information back to your chosen conveyancer. It is always much easier if you can get a face to face meeting and thus ensure that the right questions and answers are being given.

As an estate agent selling hundreds of properties in Plymouth and the surrounding areas, we often have buyers and sellers telling us that they are going to use an online company to fulfil the legal obligation. My first response to this is often to check out the online reviews for these companies, sometimes we already have had experience in dealing them so we are often able to offer a firsthand account of how good or not their services are. The main issue for these big call centre based conveyancing firms is that all the legal groundwork is carried out by paralegals or administrative assistants (not the qualified person that you think), all this paperwork is then put into a file for a solicitor or conveyancer to sign off. Usually in these firms there are several different teams in several different locations and sometimes they don’t always coordinate very well leading to lengthy delays in the purchase or sale process and this in turn can lead to huge amounts of frustration to both sides of the transaction.

In Plymouth and many other cities around the country, there are lots of different covenants on properties. These can vary from things such as “You cannot have chickens at this property”, “You cannot run a business from this property”, “You cannot alter the front fascia of this building” or one of the most common ones being ”You cannot split this property into multiple dwellings”. Plymouth has all of these covenants and many more besides. A lot of them are no longer enforceable but a surprising amount of them are enforceable and this often catches buyers out as it can change their decision as to complete the purchase or to pull out altogether. You can get around some of these covenants by having an indemnity policy to protect you from them being enforced but again using an online firm that does not know the area, or the idiosyncrasies that we have, often leads to poor advice being given and usually a sale will fall through as a result.

There is an old saying “You get what you pay for” this is certainly true when it comes to conveyancing in England. Just because they may be cheap, doesn’t mean that you will be happy. At Cross Keys Estates, we regularly offer our clients several quotes from local solicitor firms so that they can compare local prices, that added to the fact that we have sat in the middle of thousands of property sales, means that we can help you make the right choice for you to ensure that you have a smooth house buying/selling process.


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21 October, 2016

5 Star Rating
This was our first time buying so did not really know what to expect, but Crosskeys were fantastic. They kept us well informed and seemed happy to help chase up solicitors etc throughout. A few times we got a little bit anxious and were not getting much info from the solicitors, and as soon as I contacted Crosskeys they were straight onto finding out where we were and put our mind at ease. Would definitely use them in the future and would recommend to others. Thank you.
By: Abby & Ashey

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What our clients are saying about us

Cross Keys sold our house immediately, achieving the full asking price. They did exactly as they said they would, throughout every step of the process.

We chose to sell our home with Cross Keys based on the initial visit with Jack. It was apparent that his extensive local knowledge, professionalism and personable character was representative of the company and exactly the right mix of qualities that would sell our home. Robs visit to take photos and details for the brochure was as impressive and resulted in producing a quality sales brochure. The photos looked amazing and the wording was refreshingly original. Craig was proficient in explaining the detail of the contract and Tom contacted me promptly to give feedback from viewings. I can’t thank them enough, to me, they did more than sell our home, they made it possible for us to move forward with our plans for the next step of our lives.

An altogether seamless, faultless and experience. I would have absolutely no hesitation to recommend Cross Keys to family and friends.

Mr and Mrs J

From the word go we have had nothing but great help. Since walking in to the offices in Mutley plain and being referred to the Stoke office we have felt so looked after. We were looking for a property whilst trying to sort out renting out our own property. All the estate agents we had dealings with previous were either to pushy or seamed to eager to tell you what you wanted to hear. When we were visited by Jack he basically told us with out having all the bells and whistles what our property would be worth rental wise and also about a house well two that he thought would suit our family. When we met Jack at the first property we had that instant feeling and new it was the one. We are near the end and due to complete soon and with out Jack I know we would still be looking. Any issues or queries we have had just one call to the office and Rob has always answered our questions and made us feel at ease. As estate agents go and they are estate agents not just sales people, you could never find a more helpful,friendly and knowledgeable group of people and would highly recommend Cross Keys to any one as many of my friends did to me.

Darren Davis

Cross Keys is the best estate agent we have ever had dealings with. They were always available whether we popped in or on the end of the phone. The staff were very friendly and helpful and the office decor was stunning and very welcoming. The speed at which they sold our house was amazing. We will always use Cross Keys in the future and have recommended them to all our friends.

Nicola & Chris

We had a rather complicated purchase of a big old house with lots of problems. Jon demonstrated endless patience with us and good humour in challenging circumstances. He was professional, honest and reliable. As a consequence of his, and latterly Jacks, hard work we sold our house and managed to coordinate the purchase of the new house. Jon is an eloquent sales man who clearly does his research on a property, so he was great for selling our house. Furthermore, he was always ready and willing to help with our purchase too. Jack stepped in to deal with the various solicitors involved to ensure that our sale/purchase went through on time. Amazing team work, so helpful and easy to deal with. The thing I loved was that as a purchaser going on a viewing there was no after viewing pressure, unlike some local estate agents that ring you endlessly they ask you once for feedback then leave it to you to come back to them if you want to take it further. Brilliant! Well done and thank you all involved.

Janey H

Excellent, professional service from initial valuation from Steve Jones through to completion. Steve knew the market well and got the price right, Jon found the buyer quickly and kept watch on the property while it was vacant, Aimee did an excellent job of keeping me informed of progress all the way. In terms of professionalism, they were head and shoulders above the other agents we ask to value the property.


I have used Cross Keys in the past to sell a property, based on there excellent advice the property sold for the asking price in one day of being marketed. I now use them to let a property and once again have received excellent service, clear communication and true professionalism through all negotiations between myself and my tenants. Highly recommended for both sales and lettings.

Russ Wiliams


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