17.5% of all complaints that Legal Ombudsman handle are conveyancing related.
Whether this is your first home or you are a seasoned buyer, we’ve compiled a short list of the most common pitfalls that can lead to delays or costly fees across the UK. Take a moment to learn what you need to be aware of to help the legal process go as smoothly and quickly as possible.
Here are some tips to help avoid common mistakes that could increase your legal costs or delay your anticipated Move-In Day!
- You get what you pay for. Legal services are now available online at lower costs than your local high street solicitor, if your transaction is straightforward this could be a great way to save money. But you may be taking a risk if anything unusual or unexpected crops up, as many of the online services will not have the same level of qualifications or experience as a licensed solicitor.
- Get like-for-like quotes. Make sure when you are gathering your free online quotes, and there are many out there! That you look closely at the breakdown, there should be the fees your pay for the service, disbursements (search fees, stamp duty, etc..) and VAT. Make sure there are no hidden fees that will surprise you landing you with a much bigger bill than you expected or can afford. If you aren’t sure what a line item is, ask don’t assume!
- Be careful it’s your biggest investment. So don’t just look at who is the cheapest… You wouldn’t hand over years of hard earned savings to buy a brand new Ferrari from a dodgy used car dealership just to save a few hundred pounds, so make sure you treat your house purchase the same. Cheaper is not always better.
- Ask family and friends for a referral. The housing marketing is a big network of professionals that pay each other for referrals, don’t assume who your mortgage broker is sending you to is a good price and good service. There is no better referral than people you trust that have been through it successfully.
- Communication. One of the biggest complaints home buyers have about conveyancing professionals is the lack of communication from their lawyer. Read online public reviews, ask your family and friends. There could be nothing more frustrating than wanting a simple 1 minute answer on a question but having to make 10 phone calls before someone picks up the phone. And remember, if they aren’t answering your calls, they could also be late making disbursement payments, which could result in you losing your home and your money!
- Tell them about ANY concerns you have. There is no such thing as a silly question, maybe you are buying in the country and there is a “Land For Sale” sign in the field across the road and you want to make sure it won’t become a big housing estate or lorry depot. Maybe you are at the bottom of a hill and want to know if it’s on a flood plain, or it’s near an old mining site and you want to find out if there are subsidence issues in the area. Remember you have physically been to the property but your solicitor will not have.
- View the property again with the Title Plan in hand. Make sure that red boundary line on the map is exactly where you thought it was when you visited the home. Is the wall yours or your neighbours? Is the way you access the property yours or the council’s? Is that large tree yours or someone else’s? You will want to remodel the attic and add another bedroom, but are you allowed to make major exterior changes? Make sure you are 100% confident of what you are buying and if you aren’t sure… ask your solicitor.
- What if the sale falls through? Even ‘no move, no fee’ deals don’t necessarily mean you’ll have nothing to pay. Find out the facts, if they have done and paid for searches you’ll likely have to pay those back… If there was an insurance policy to cover that scenario what is the cost of that policy you’ll have to pay? Law firms are businesses so they will want to recoup their time spent on your transaction in some way. Remember nothing is free.
On a positive note. The market for conveyancing is very competitive and if you shop around carefully you will likely find a very qualified professional, at a very reasonable price, that comes with good recommendations that is able to successfully get you into your new home on time and without any additional stress.
Buying or selling? We can help
If you are thinking about buying or selling a home and are interested in learning more, our Conveyancing Team are happy to answer your questions. We are proud that 9.6 out of 10 of our clients would recommend us to their family and friends. We also have fix fee prices that start at £570, please note this does exclude the stamp duty and search fees.