I spent the entire morning looking online for a Conveyance Solicitor that offered a good service for a great price. I also planned on looking into mortgages, but I didn’t have the mental energy to progress that far.
I did a basic search on Google for “conveyance solicitor”, in response I got an overwhelming list of companies offering their legal services. I went to about 10 different sites, and filled in their online quote forms.
What is a Conveyance Solicitor?
A conveyance solicitor handles all the legal paperwork which is required for any property purchase/sale. Both sides of the chain, whether it be buyer or seller, need a solicitor.
What is Conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the process of legally transferring ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer.
There are five main steps of conveyancing for a buyer:
- Pre-contractual stage– this is the stage where documents are prepared to transfer ownership, once an offer has been agreed buy the buyer and seller. The documents will include boundaries of the property, any fixtures and fittings that come with the property, the sale price of the property, any planning restrictions, the completion date, and any legal restrictions on the property.
- Exchange of contracts– when both parties are happy with the contents of the pre-contractual stage, they sign final copies of the contract and send them to each other. Once contracts are exchanged, the agreement is legally binding and usually neither party can pull out without paying a penality.
- Between exchange and completion– after the contracts are exchanged, the following is usually done at this stage: preparing documents to transfer ownership, check mortgage documents, land registry checks, arrange transfer of funds, and check to see if all agreed tasks set out in the contract have been completed e.g. any agreed repairs.
- Completion– this is the stage where all matters between exchange and completion have been completed, the money for the property is transferred from buyer to seller. The sale is now completed and the keys are handed over. The property now belongs to the buyer.
- After completion– once the exchange is completed and the property has a new owner, the property needs to be registered with the new owner with the Land Registry, pay stamp duty and tell the insurers that the exchange has completed.
How much does a Conveyance Solicitor cost?
I slowly began to realise how crafty conveyancing solicitors can be. After having received some quotes from the various companies I contacted, to two things became apparent:
- 1) Prices can drastically vary for the same service.
- 2) Many of them unnecessarily add on extra fees for services you don’t even need. There’s generally mandatory steps that need be taken, everything else was just rubbish they’re up-selling.
Some conveyancing firms stipulated that they would charge extra if a deal wasn’t completed with in a certain time scale. I found that pretty unappealing, because it means that even if they weren’t necessarily going to do extra work, they would still charge more because of possible delays i.e. the seller’s solicitor could cause a delay. What if a delay occurs through no fault of my own, would I have to pay extra for that? Seemed unreasonable.
From my own experience, the average solicitor fee for buying a freehold property is £500, but there are definitely bargains to be found. The cheapest quote I received was just under £300, which was by a firm I found online. It’s also worth noting that leasehold properties will cost more to conveyance than freehold properties as they involve additional paper work and checks.
Tips for when choosing a Conveyance Solicitor
- It’s important to get a FULL quote before agreeing or signing up for any service. When you get a full quote, there should be a breakdown in a list format- make sure they are ALL required, and not just thrown onto the pile so your solicitor makes a little extra cash at your naive expense.
- I would recommend using a firm that offers a ‘fixed fee’, so you’re not hit with any escalating costs
- Always go with a company that offers a “no completion- no fee” insurance policy
- Get a few quotes, so you can get the best value
- Ask your friends and family if they can recommend any Conveyance Solicitors
- You DON’T have to use a local high-street firm. That’s a common misconception. You’ll often find the better deals from solicitors online, but the odds are, they won’t be located near your home. This can often be irritating for two reasons (from my own experience). Firstly, it means there will be a lot of documents being mailed back and forth. Secondly, if there are any problems, the situation usually has to get handled over the phone. I personally prefer physical presence, especially with legal matters. The alternative is to pay a little extra and find a local high-street Conveyance Solicitor.
- Only use licensed conveyancers. All licensed conveyancers are regulated by the CLC (Council For Licensed Conveyancers), which means they are qualified specialist property lawyers. You can find a list of licensed conveyances here.
If anyone else has any further tips/advice, or experiences they’d like to share, please leave a comment.