Whether you’re buying or selling a home, or both, you’re going to need to appoint a conveyancer. You do have the option to hire a solicitor instead, but they rarely hold the expert property knowledge that conveyancers do, and they often charge higher fees. You can check out our full guide on making this choice, here.
When choosing a good conveyancer, there are a number of red flags you should look out for, all of which are indications that the conveyancer you are talking to is NOT going to serve your needs well. In other words, these are signs which indicate they’re not very good at their job.
Markedly cheaper than the competition
When you search for a conveyancer online, you’ll find they all charge different fees. Some will, on the surface, be cheaper than others. This is to be expected. If, however, one conveyancer is offering markedly lower fees than the others, you can take this as a glaring red flag.
When it comes to service providers, which a conveyancer essentially is, cheaper never means better. Not with hairdressers, not with wedding photographers, not with chefs, and certainly not with conveyancers.
Not only do unusually low fees mean you may be getting a substandard service, but it also suggests that the conveyancer is going to charge you a lot of extra fees, fees which other conveyancers include in their quote.
Unwilling to provide a full breakdown of fees
The initial quote you get from a conveyancer is, essentially, the price it costs to hire them. It does not necessarily give a full picture of how much money you’re going to have to hand over during the course of the conveyancing process.
As mentioned above, some conveyancers include some of the additional fees in their initial quote, but rarely does a conveyancer include all of the additional fees. The fees they don’t usually include are called disbursements and they’re more or less unavoidable. Read all about disbursements, here.
Making you pay extra for disbursements is not a red flag, but an unwillingness to clearly outline, in full, all of the potential extra fees you will be required to hand over to them throughout the conveyancing process, is definitely a red flag. And if you can’t get a clear idea of the fee structure, you have no way of knowing how much it’s all going to cost you.
They come recommended by your agent
Recommendations can be a great way of finding a good conveyancer, but it all depends on who or where the recommendation comes from. It needs to be someone you trust, and someone without bias.
Estate agents will often strike deals with conveyancers – for every customer the agent sends to the conveyancer, the agent takes a finder’s fee. So, if an agent recommends you hire a specific conveyancer, there’s a good chance they’re doing so because they’ll get money from it, not because the conveyancer is the best person for the job.
Slow communication from the outset
The conveyancing process can be long and complex. There are all sorts of different jobs that need doing, much of which are incredibly admin-heavy and demand a certain tenacity from the conveyancer – they need to make a lot of phone calls and chase a lot of people to get the information you need in good time. If they act slowly, they can cause you to miss out on your dream home because someone else beats you to the punch.
That’s why you should pay close attention to the speed at which the conveyancers you reach out to respond and provide information.
When you send your initial enquiry email, if they don’t respond quickly, it’s a red flag. It suggests either that they’re already too busy or that they’re too sluggish for you to rely on.
Once hired, they’re slow off the mark
Once you formally hire your conveyancer, they should have measures in place which enable them to start the conveyancing process for you within the first week.
They should, for example, request your proof of identity, details on the home you’re looking to buy/sell, and money to initiate the primary searches and disbursement processes, straight away. If they don’t request these details within the first week, it’s a red flag. It suggests they’re not going to operate with the speed and efficiency you should expect.
Because you’re still in the early stages of the relationship, you should think seriously about sacking this conveyancer and getting a new one who is willing to work harder for you.
Using jargon to confuse and distract
Finally, a simple one. When you’re talking to a prospective conveyancer, they should use plain, clear language to explain exactly what the conveyancing process requires, how much it will cost, what they will do to help you complete your home purchase/sale, and what is expected from you throughout the journey.
If, instead, they use complex jargonistic language which you cannot understand, there is a chance they’re doing so on purpose. They want to blind you with complex information and confuse you with big words in the hope that you don’t ask too many questions. It’s a red flag. In such cases, you should request that the conveyancer repeat the information in simpler terms. If they don’t, get rid of them and find a conveyancer you can actually hold a conversation with.
If you’d like more information on choosing a conveyancer, you can read our full guide: How to choose a good conveyancer. And if you still have unresolved questions, our property expert, Russell Quirk, is happy to help. Just drop us a message in the comments section below and he will get back to you pronto.