Finding the Right Conveyancer or Solicitor
If you’re not entirely sure what a conveyancer is or what they do, or what the difference is between a conveyancer and a solicitor that offers conveyancing services, this is where we explain it all.
Finding a conveyancer (or a conveyancing solicitor – more on that later) is an important part of the house buying process. Their job is to make sure that the purchase of your home is done correctly; so you need to be confident that they have the knowledge and expertise to proactively manage the process, so you don’t have to worry.
Unfortunately, this means you need to put in some work to make sure you understand what they have to do and research the companies that can do this for you. Like everything else, not all conveyancers are the same, service levels and prices will vary, and it can be difficult to decide which one is the right one for you.
It’s really important that you put in the effort so you can make an informed decision on who is going to manage the process of buying your new home.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the task of transferring the ownership of land or property from one person to another. The person whose manages this is called a Conveyancer.
The conveyancer will manage the transfer and ensure that all the necessary contracts and documents are signed and transferred and look after the payments involved as well.
Your conveyancer will:
- Make you aware of all the costs involved in your house purchase
- Research to see if there is anything that negatively affects (or will affect in the future) the property you are buying (known as local authority, utility and property searches).
- Check and ensure the contracts you sign are acceptable.
- Manage queries and questions between you and the seller.
- Organise the money – what you pay, when and where.
- Arrange your completion date (the date you move in!)
- Register you as the property’s new owners with the Land Registry.
Your conveyancer is working for you and should keep you up-to-date with how the purchase is progressing.
How long does it take?
The whole conveyancing process usually takes between 10 and 12 weeks, but it can be much less or much more.
To avoid disappointment because things are not progressing as quickly as you would like, expect the process to take less than 3 months if you are not in a chain. If you are part of a chain and/or buying leasehold expect it to take as long as 6 months.
Your conveyancer or estate agent should be able to give you a better estimate on the timescales, as they know who and what is involved in your particular purchase.
What’s the difference between a conveyancing solicitor and a licensed conveyancer?
You can choose either a conveyancing solicitor or a licensed conveyancer – both are qualified to carry out conveyancing, but fees for a solicitor will be higher than that of a licensed conveyancer.
A conveyancing solicitor is a qualified conveyancer and will also have a range of knowledge on property law. If your purchase could be complicated (e.g. if there is a boundary dispute), the security of a solicitor with a vast legal background can only benefit you. They must be a member of The Law Society.
A licensed conveyancer, on the other hand, is both qualified and has an in-depth knowledge of conveyancing. They are most appropriate when you know that it will be a simple and straightforward process, but if a tricky situation does arise, they might have to refer to a solicitor to resolve it anyway. They must be a member of the CLC.
How to find the right solicitor or conveyancer
Choosing the right solicitor or conveyancer is vital to a stress-free house purchase. It’s a good idea to shop around and get 2 to 3 quotes from different companies (see our tips for getting quotes below).
Things to consider:
- Can you find a conveyancer who has experience in your type of property, e.g. Help to Buy, leasehold etc?
- Do they have professional indemnity of at least £1m?
- Are they easy to contact? (Communication is important when your purchase is underway).
- Do they have good online reviews?
- Do they have experience of properties in your local area?
- Are they on the panel of approved legal representatives for your mortgage lender?
- Talk to friends and family – have they had any good (or bad) experiences with a company you are thinking of using?
- Carefully consider recommendations from your estate agent. Quotes from a company they recommend will often include a referral fee and cost you more. However, they may recommend a local conveyancer that they have a good working relationship with and will work hard for you. If in doubt ask what commission they get. Remember, you are not obliged to use their recommended legal representative or mortgage adviser.
A good conveyancer will reassure you that they will:
- Offer a modern conveyancing service
- Work efficiently and accurately
- Be proactive at pushing the deal through
- Help negotiate successfully with other parties
- Reduce the stress of buying a home.
When you ask for a conveyancing quote, you should get the basic fee (the company’s cost for their time) and disbursements, which is anything they pay to outside agencies on your behalf, e.g. search fees, stamp duty etc.
Disbursements should be roughly the same on every quote; it is only the basic fee that will vary.
- Always ask for a fixed quote, not an estimate – that way you know exactly what you are paying.
- Ask for an itemised breakdown listing all the disbursements.
- Always read the terms and conditions carefully to make sure there are no hidden charges.
- Check whether they offer ‘no sale no fee’ – it could save you a lot of money if your purchase falls through.
Our top tips for finding the right conveyancer or solicitor
- Ask for recommendations, and take the time to shop around
- Be clear on what you need – is your purchase simple or complex?
- Review service levels
- Ask for fixed and detailed costings upfront
- Don’t sacrifice service for a cheaper quote.
Ready to find a conveyancer or just looking for a quote ready to buy?
We can help with our fully reviewed panel of conveyancers and solicitors. Compare conveyancing quotes here.