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