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Buying a Home? How to Choose a Conveyancer

Posted 8 October 2018 by Nick Parkhouse

If you're buying a property, you'll need a conveyancer. Read our tips to help you choose the right conveyancer/solicitor...

During the course of a property transaction, you'll deal with several professionals. Your estate agent will deal with the sale or purchase and your mortgage adviser will arrange your finance for you. And, to deal with all the legal aspects, you'll need a qualified conveyancer or solicitor.

But how do you choose a conveyancer? Our guide tells you everything you need to know about choosing a conveyancer or solicitor to handle your property purchase.

What is the difference between a conveyancer and a solicitor?

When it comes to handling your property transaction, both solicitors and conveyancers operate to very similar practices and procedures.

Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Licensed Conveyancers are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. Both are fully regulated and insured.

It's worth remembering that solicitors are qualified lawyers with training and experience in many aspects of law. As well as property transactions they can deal with other legal issues. Licensed conveyancers, however, are specialist property lawyers who deal with property sales and purchases every day.

You may find that a solicitor costs more than a conveyancer, although a fully qualified solicitor may be a better choice if your transaction has complications. For example, a solicitor may be better if there is a boundary dispute or you’re buying from a couple who are divorcing and separating their assets.

However, a conveyancer will be able to handle your transaction in most cases.

What does a conveyancer do?

When choosing a conveyancer, it's worth having an idea of exactly what they will do as part of your transaction.

  • Conduct searches with utilities and local authorities to ensure that there are no future plans or financial liabilities that affect the property. These searches will reveal issues such as future development plans near the property, whether you're liable for local church maintenance or whether there's a sewer running near your new home.
  • Liaise with your mortgage lender to ensure they have all the information they require about the property.
  • Provide you with a list of costs incurred in the transaction, including Stamp Duty and any other specific charges. They will also deal with the payment of fees at the conclusion of the transaction, such as paying Stamp Duty and estate agents.
  • Draft contracts and check any contracts that are provided.
  • Register new owners with the Land Registry.

Don't be pushed into using your estate agent's recommendation

If there's an estate agent involved in your transaction, then they will often provide you with a recommendation or an introduction to a conveyancing service.

Remember that you are under no obligation to use their in-house conveyancer or any other solicitor they recommend.

Instead, you should shop around for a conveyancer. Keep reading to find out how and why.

Do plenty of research

There are lots of conveyancing firms out there so it’s important that you do some research. Ask questions such as:

  • Is it a general legal practice or does the firm have specialist conveyancers who deal in property transactions?
  • Does the company have a good reputation? Look for reviews online.
  • Do you get a dedicated case handler who will look after your transaction? If so, make sure they don’t have any holidays booked and that you will get direct access to them by phone or email.

It’s also a good idea to speak to friends and family for recommendations. Someone you know may have had a particularly good experience when buying their home.

Ask for a quote including a full breakdown of fees

Conveyancing fees can range from around £500 to £1,500, depending on the cost of the property. The fee will also be based on whether you're just buying a property or selling one home and buying another.

Fees may also depend on how complicated the transaction is. For example, if you’re buying a leasehold property then there may be additional work involved.

Shop around and get several different quotes before choosing who to use. Make sure you ask for a full breakdown of fees and get a quote that lists everything included in the total charge.

Some conveyancers charge a flat fee, while others will charge a percentage of the property's value. Always check exactly what the fee covers as some firms may charge extra if any unforeseen issues arise.

Make sure you provide the conveyancer will all the necessary details when requesting a quote and confirm there won’t be any additional fees. Hidden fees can include charges for:

  • Buying a new build/unregistered property
  • Buying using a mortgage
  • Completing Stamp Duty forms
  • Buying an unregistered property.

While it’s important that you get some quotes before you choose a conveyancer, don't make your decision purely based on price. You should also consider their service standards and whether they have a good reputation.

The conveyancer that you choose will be responsible for all the legal work surrounding your property purchase. If they are too busy, or they miss anything or make a mistake, you could end up paying a lot more than the amount you saved by choosing the cheapest service. It could also cost you the property.

Getting a mortgage? Make sure your conveyancer is on your lender's panel

If you are using a mortgage to buy your new home, make sure that the conveyancer you choose is on your lender’s approved panel.

If they are, it means that they can act on your behalf and also on your mortgage lender’s behalf. If they are not, you may incur additional costs as another firm may have to become involved.

Useful links

Your complete guide to mortgage fees and costs

Your guide to getting a first-time buyer mortgage

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