A conveyancer is a lawyer who specialises in the complex legal processes involved with buying and selling property.
If you are buying or selling a home, it’s vital to have a good conveyancer by your side. But what is a good conveyancer, and how can you tell them apart from a bad conveyancer? Let’s take a quick look.
P.S If you want more details on what a conveyancer actually does, check out this guide.
Is local always best?
It’s reasonable to assume that your conveyancer needs to be local to the home you are looking to buy. This is not true. Given the wizardry and wondary of modern technology, you and your conveyancer will rarely have any need to meet face-to-face. In the same vein, they will have little need to physically visit the home you are buying.
This means you should focus on finding the best conveyancer rather than the nearest.
Get multiple quotes but don’t default to the cheapest
You want to shop around, gather multiple quotes from conveyancers across the country and the internet.
With your quotes in-hand, it is often tempting to go with the cheapest option, but we would always urge you to resist this impulse. After all, where else in life does ‘cheapest’ ever indicate ‘best’? Your hairdresser? Your car? Your laptop? Your wedding band? No, so why entrust the most significant purchase of your life to a substandard expert?
Furthermore, when the advertised fees are cheap, especially if they are significantly cheaper than the rest, you can bet your grandma’s best compression socks that there are all sorts of hidden fees involved.
No move, no fee
Some conveyancers offer a no move, no fee pricing model. This means, if your purchase falls through before completion, which an awful lot of property sales do, you don’t have to pay the conveyancer fees. For obvious reasons, this is a very attractive offer.
However, be aware that some of the conveyancer’s jobs, especially disbursements such as Local Authority Searches, require additional up-front payments. You need to find out whether the no move, no fee offer includes or excludes such costs. If not, and your purchase falls through, you will still end up out of pocket.
Be wary of Estate Agent recommendations
Estate Agents will often recommend conveyancers for you to use. Approach with caution!
These recommendations will often be a result of some sort of agreement between the agent and the conveyancer – the agent will get money for a successful introduction. This means they can’t always be trusted as impartial or beneficial recommendations, and certainly don’t do anything to guarantee quality of service or value for money.
If your agent does suggest a conveyancer, do your own research to ensure it’s a good recommendation.
Word of mouth from trusted friends
You’re much better off trusting recommendations from friends and family. We all know people who have recently bought or sold a property and all of them will have had dealings with a conveyancer. Were they happy with the person they hired, or did it end up being a royal pain in the teeth? These impartial recommendations are often much more valuable than those from your estate agent.
You can find conveyancer reviews across the internet, many of which you can trust to be impartial and honest. However, we always recommend reading those websites carefully: are the reviews truly reliable, or is the website benefitting from speaking highly of certain conveyancers?
If the latter is true, it will say so on the website, probably towards the bottom, somewhere in small print. While affiliated reviews aren’t always untrustworthy, they should be taken with a pinch of salt and followed up with some extra research on your part.
Don’t be shy with the questions
Everything written above can be covered in one simple piece of advice – ask the conveyancer as many questions as you can. Ask them to clearly outline their fees; ask them to clearly state the services you will be paying for; ask them whether their no move, no fee model includes up-front disbursement fees; ask them anything and everything you want before appointing them. If they’re not forthcoming with satisfactory answers, look elsewhere.
How much did your conveyancer cost and were they good value for money? Let us know in the comments section below.
Also, if you have a conveyancing-related question for our resident property expert, Russell Quirk, drop it in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to reply.