When buying or selling a home, you need to ensure that conveyancing is carried out professionally. Home move conveyancing is critical to get right, and you certainly have options to consider.
You can choose a local solicitor or head to an online-only service. Both options come with pros and cons. So here’s our quick guide to choosing local or online only home move conveyancing.
If you’re looking online for a home move conveyancing service, you’ve likely seen some online prices that look extremely low (very often, they are not as low as they look — a bit like with hotel rooms or flights). These are the conveyancing services that work solely online.
However, it’s important to remember that the notion of online conveyancing is something of a broad catch-all term that isn’t 100% accurate. So-called online conveyancing solicitors are often confused with local conveyancing solicitors because they are usually more visible online and use tricks to make them look local when they’re not.
So, when people refer to online conveyancing, they usually mean that the conveyancing solicitor is not based locally and will not meet them at any point.
Local conveyancing solicitors are what it says on the tin. These are solicitors with an office close to where you live and who you can meet by popping in to pick something up or drop something off. That traditional way of doing business makes most people feel much more confident about buying or selling a property.
While online services can often feel impersonal and sometimes impractical, local conveyancing solicitors are more often chosen because of the more personal touch and physical accessibility should the need arise.
It’s much more reassuring to have a solicitor working on your behalf that you either know or know where their office is if you need them.
Just as there are battery farms for eggs, so too are there conveyancing “factories”. These large, online firms pile up the cases but can struggle to manage their clients. Those working in such an environment may be overworked and stressed, leading to poor service, poor communication, delays and mistakes.
When you’re choosing a conveyancing solicitor, one of the most important things you can do is check their reviews. Look for obvious red flags, such as a high number of 0 or 1-star reviews.
Choosing a local conveyancing solicitor will be the preferred choice for most people. There are some clear advantages to using a local solicitor. These include the following.
While there is usually no reason for you to have to meet with your conveyancing solicitor at any time during the process of buying or selling a home, the fact is that most people prefer to have the reassurance of knowing they have the option if the need arises. Face-to-face meetings feel more natural, boosting your confidence in your solicitor of choice.
The best local solicitors use technology as a servant, not a master. It’s there to help not get in the way. While digital technology is beneficial in many ways, the problem is that it can also get complicated, even for the most tech-savvy. While most people can send emails and download forms, that’s not true of everyone. If you’re not tech-proficient or if you get stuck, knowing that you can drop off documents in a physical office near home is a great option to have — even if you don’t end up using it.
Likewise, the best local solicitors tend to be more set up and easier to reach on the telephone than online solicitors. So if you like the option of speaking to somebody on the phone, a local solicitor is likely the best choice for you.
One of the most popular reasons for choosing the best local solicitors is that they benefit from local conveyancing knowledge of the area and know the people and companies in the area who regularly deal with property like estate agents, mortgage brokers and surveyors.
Their local knowledge and relationships can help your conveyancer understand and communicate the technical and practical things they need to consider and advise you more efficiently, leading to a much smoother journey and less chance of things breaking down.
If a local solicitor doesn’t do their job well, their reputation will suffer. In extreme cases, they may even go out of business. When an online conveyancing company doesn’t do its job well, it’s just one of many, and bad reviews can get lost in the mix. With online companies, you’re rarely going to get the personal touch. The best local conveyancing solicitors will always offer a more individual service because they will rely on your positive experience.
That’s not to say that an online solicitor will always give you poor service. It’s more that a local solicitor will be willing to commit time to your individual needs than a company working on a larger scale.
While it’s easy to assume that you’ll never get the best service from an online conveyancing service, this isn’t always the case. If you take the time to search through various online conveyancers and check their reviews, you can benefit from the advantages of online conveyancing services. If those advantages are what you are looking for (what one person considers to be an advantage, another may not, due to personal preference, circumstances or both).
Some people, either through personal choice, circumstances or disability, don’t want or need the option of dropping into their solicitor’s office or reaching them on the phone. In these circumstances, online-only solicitors would be a clear advantage to you. A word of warning, though.
Bear in mind that using online-only solicitors may slow down others involved in a property transaction, like estate agents and other solicitors. If your solicitor is not easily contactable on the phone, it could make things particularly rough for you — especially on completion day. The best local solicitors can offer you this kind of service if that’s what you’re looking for, without closing off the options for the others involved.
These convenient features are becoming increasingly popular for good reason. They can make your life easier and speed things up. But do bear in mind that the best local solicitors (including Lockings) also have this technology, so you have the choice of whether to sign up and fill out your forms on paper or online.
This can be very helpful to you, but bear in mind it’s only as good as the progress that is being made on your case. The last thing you want is a status bar that is not moving and an inability to reach your solicitor easily on the phone or by dropping in.
The best conveyancing service for you will depend on your particular circumstances. Before you make a final decision, you need to ask yourself some questions about what you’re looking for. Always consider the following, and get answers to each question from your shortlist:
Equipped with these answers, you’ll have a much better idea of which kind of solicitor best suits your needs.
Property transfers are an expensive process, and they can be complex. Leaving it to chance and picking a conveyancing solicitor at random is not worth the risk. Problems can arise at any moment when buying or selling a home, so you need your conveyancing solicitor to be there when you need them.
It’s hard to beat the local touch for a better and more personalised service. With online services, you will rarely speak with anyone, and getting answers to new questions can be extremely challenging (if you do get through, they may pass you to someone different every time, which can get laborious).
Do your research. If you have any questions about conveyancing, such as fees or any stumbling blocks, contact our friendly and experienced team to book a free, no-obligation chat.
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.
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