Finding any old solicitor is easy. There are lots out there who will be happy to take on your conveyancing. Finding the best conveyancing solicitor is trickier. For most people, buying and/or selling a property is one of the largest financial (and most emotionally-charged) transactions of their life, so it pays to spend a little time sorting out the wheat from the chaff.
Save yourself stress and heartache and avoid buying into the common myth that the job of a conveyancing solicitor is mainly administrative. It’s an extremely important role, so you need to know what to look out for to ensure you find the right one for you, who will work efficiently and professionally on your behalf.
Similar to finding out how much your home is worth, your first step when looking for the right conveyancing solicitor is to research. There are a few avenues to explore, and it’s best to check a variety of sources. Here are the most common and effective ways of finding a conveyancing solicitor. Our top tip when using any of these methods is to ask yourself:
This is where many people start their search for a solicitor because it’s so easy and convenient to search at a time and location that’s best for you.
It can result in confusing pages of results that can be time-consuming and difficult to sort through, with no 100% reliable way to easily compare one against the other. You can narrow down your search by using more specific search terms, like “Local Conveyancing Solicitors” or “Conveyancing Solicitors York”, for example.
Remember to check ratings or testimonials from previous clients, as this can narrow your shortlist down considerably. Google Reviews can be particularly helpful because they tend to be genuine. You can easily compare one solicitor against another and drill down into a particular office location if the solicitor you are considering has more than one. For example, links to the Google pages of our offices are here: Lockings Beverley, Lockings Hull, Lockings York.
This is always a good reference point, as these will be people you trust. They will be unswayed by monetary gain and will tend to give you honest answers about their experiences. Talk to friends and family about their conveyancing process experiences and how well their conveyancing solicitor worked on their behalf.
Whilst scoring high on trust, not many people have friends and family who have a lot of recent experience of conveyancing solicitors. And remember, you are looking for what’s best for you. The solicitor your parents or children used might not be right for you, even if they were happy with them and their experience was recent.
Make sure the experience of your friends and family is recent and that what they were looking for and appreciated is what you are looking for.
If an estate agent is marketing the property you’re buying (and/or selling), they will often recommend a conveyancing solicitor to you. In some cases, they may also advise you of solicitors you should avoid.
Recommendations (both positive and negative) from estate agents can be very useful as they will tend to have lots of recent experience of solicitors, so they are potentially in a great position to comment on who they and their clients have found deliver the best service.
Estate agents will commonly have some form of financial agreement in place where they are paid a commission if you go with their recommendation. The higher the commission, the more likely their judgement will be clouded and the less likely they are to give you a balanced view.
Estate agent recommendations can be gold dust if they are genuinely given in your interests, but don’t forget to ask the estate agent what’s in it for them. They are obliged to tell you if they get a commission, and if so, how much that will be. Ask them why they’re making the recommendation, and make sure it doesn’t just boil down to the commission. A quick Google search (see above for some tips) provides a very easy cross-check about what you have been told.
The big thing to remember here is that you are not obligated to use the conveyancing solicitor recommended by an estate agent, so if you do go with their recommendation, ensure it’s genuine — and in your best interests.
If you are buying with a mortgage, then a recommendation from your lender, independent financial adviser or mortgage broker may be a good option. They will also tend to have lots of recent experience of solicitors, so they too are potentially in a great position to comment on which conveyancing solicitor delivers the best service.
Again, you just need to make sure the recommendation is being made in your interests, so check why your broker is recommending a particular solicitor and what is in it for them.
Much the same as with estate agents, make sure you’re happy with the answers you’re given on why they are recommending a particular solicitor and what financial incentives they may receive for a recommendation.
Now you know how to find a conveyancing solicitor, make sure you choose the best. You should have a few potential options to consider before making your final decision. Here’s how to narrow them down to the best.
Firstly, do a quick check to make sure the solicitor you are considering is genuine.
Next, it’s a good idea to look out for Law Society accreditations. There are a couple of marks to check for:
The Law Society says, “Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) is the recognised quality mark for legal experts in buying or selling property. It’s trusted by some of the UK’s biggest lenders. Our members can advise you on buying or selling a home and leasehold issues.”
The Law Society says, “Law firms that have the Lexcel Accreditation must follow rules and guidelines that help raise standards and promote a high-quality approach to practice management and client care. The Lexcel quality mark gives you peace of mind when choosing a provider of legal services.”
You will need to pay your conveyancing solicitor for their services. For most people, buying or selling a property can be financially challenging, so always check the fees that your shortlisted solicitors charge.
The best conveyancing solicitors will work transparently so that you always have a clear understanding of what’s happening in the house transfer process and how much it’s going to cost. Remember, the cheapest conveyancing solicitor is rarely the best choice, and prices that are too good to be true can be a red flag.
It’s also worth noting that many solicitors specialising in conveyancing will work on a “no-sale, no-fee” basis (sometimes called “no completion, no fee”). So if the house sale falls through for any reason, you won’t have to pay. This is often a sign of a good conveyancing solicitor and means they will be motivated to deliver the result you want — because they only get paid when you complete.
Comparing fees can be tricky as you are often not comparing like with like, and there are a lot of hidden fees out there. We’ve prepared this free guide, so you don’t get caught out.
There is nothing wrong with using a conveyancing solicitor based somewhere else in the country. They will be able to carry out all of their enquiries and searches and the property transfer processes from anywhere. However, there are specific rules and regulations that apply to different parts of the country, so always ensure they know about these — such as the searches needed in a particular area and the different Stamp Duty rules in England and Wales (where it is called Land Transaction Tax).
So, does it matter where your conveyancing solicitor is based? Local solicitors will often have a potential advantage over a solicitor miles away because they will know more about the local area and the things (like specific property searches and likely turnaround times) and people (local estate agents, for example). This can accelerate the buying and selling process (or at least make it smoother and less stressful).
If you are buying with a mortgage, always check your shortlist to ensure you choose a solicitor who is on your mortgage lender’s panel so they can act for your lender as well as you. This speeds things up and makes the process less complicated, as mortgage lenders tend to only deal with specific solicitors or conveyancers.
You can choose to use a conveyancing solicitor who isn’t on your mortgage lender’s panel, but be aware that it will result in an additional fee by your lender. This fee can vary, but you can expect it to be at least £200, and it will likely increase the complexity and overall time taken because another solicitor (acting for your lender) will be involved.
Mortgage lenders can kick solicitors off their panels if they do a bad job, so it provides you with some extra reassurance if your solicitor is on the panel.
So before you make the final decision about your conveyancing solicitor, ask them what panels they are on and if they’ve ever been removed from any, and let them know who your mortgage lender is (or is likely to be — if you know at that stage).
Handy Tip #1
Not everyone knows which mortgage lender they are going to use at the outset, and there are a number of reasons why they may switch to a different mortgage lender. So it’s very wise to choose a solicitor who is on as many panels as possible, so you don’t face extra costs and delays further down the line.
Handy Tip #2
Even if you are just selling, it’s worthwhile asking any solicitor on your shortlist if they’re on all the major lender panels and if they have ever been kicked off one. Although they will not need a panel membership to act for you on this occasion, it will give you extra reassurance about their competence.
It’s a good idea to ask some additional questions before you decide about the best conveyancing solicitor for you. The best ones will help you throughout the property transfer process and with 100% transparency every step of the way. You don’t want a solicitor you struggle to get hold of, or who doesn’t give you regular updates about what’s happening.
Consider asking some or all of the following questions to ensure you make the best final choice for your conveyancing solicitor:
Knowing how to find a conveyancing solicitor is not the same as finding the best one. While it might not be the most fun part of buying or selling a property, choosing the right solicitor is a decision that you shouldn’t rush into.
Take the time to create a shortlist of options, then do your research into each of them. Ask questions, make sure that you know exactly what their accreditations are and their costs. Look at testimonials from previous clients and never make a final decision based solely on the price of the conveyancing service.
If you’re currently looking for a conveyancing solicitor or have any questions about the process, contact the office team at Lockings today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can help ensure that the process of buying or selling a property is as hassle-free and transparent as it can be.
If you are a customer of Lockings Solicitors and we have contracted with you online you may be entitled to use the EU Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform to assist in resolving any dispute with us. This service can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/odr.
Our email address is email@example.com
Lockings Solicitors is a trading name of Lockings Legal Services Limited registered in England and Wales company registration number 09244568. Lockings Legal Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (Main Office SRA ID number 626081). A list of our directors is available for inspection at all our offices. Use the following link https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/standards-regulations/
for online access to the current professional rules applicable to solicitors. All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes.
VAT Number: 282 2447 58