Finding & Choosing the Right Conveyancer

According to surveys, moving home is the third most stressful thing the average person will have to deal with after the death of a loved one and a divorce. As well as this, a home is by far the most valuable purchase or sale then any of us will ever make, so with these things in mind it’s important to choose the right conveyancer. If you are confident your conveyancer is doing a good job you can free to concentrate on organising the hundred and one other things you’ll need to do!

The right conveyancer for one person may not be right for another of course, and it’s important to think about your particular needs and preferences before looking for a firm to represent so you. This will help you find a firm that matches your requirements.

Do You Want to Deal Face to Face With Your Conveyancer?

Some people don’t like dealing with anything over the phone or by e-mail and would prefer to sit down face to face with their conveyancer whereas others will feel intimidated in this situation (though it is the conveyancer’s job to help make you feel at ease) or will simply not want the inconvenience of arranging time out of work to attend appointments.

If dealing face to face is important then a local high street solicitor is probably the best option. Very few volume conveyancers have the facilities to have regular meetings with clients and in most cases you will never actually meet them. They will not make home visits either, whereas a high street solicitor usually will.

Do You Want a Conveyancer that You Don’t Have to Visit?

As mentioned above, if you choose a volume conveyancing specialist firm, or a firm with a specialist conveyancing department, it is possible to go through the entire transaction without meeting your conveyancer at all. Communication will be by phone, e-mail and post.

Many people see this as a much more convenient option and these firms often offer an out of hours telephone service (though not necessarily manned by the person dealing with your case). Theoretically you can choose a conveyancer anywhere in the country which opens up the market considerably. You should be aware however that although rare, there may be a need for you to attend the solicitor’s office, perhaps if a document needs to be signed immediately and there is no time to wait for the post, or there are postal strikes, or a document needs to be signed in the presence of a solicitor, and you should consider how practical this would be.

Are You Likely to be an Anxious or Relaxed Client?

Every client is different. Some are happy to instruct a conveyancer and leave it entirely in his hands whereas others will need to receive regular updates and feel more involved to happy that things are going to plan. If you are one of the latter, you should factor this into your decision. You may be more confident in the abilities of a high street solicitor from a small practice who practices in different areas of the law and has been qualified for many years but it is likely that he will often be out of the office, perhaps attending court or meeting other clients, and you may not be able to speak to him as often as you would like.

If you choose a specialist conveyancing firm or a large solicitor’s practice with a conveyancer department it is likely your conveyancer will deal solely with conveyancing and be easier to contact, and more willing to take your calls personally.

Do You Need Your Conveyancer to be Qualified?

If you instruct a small high street practice then it is likely the person with day to day conduct of your case will be a solicitor, or licensed conveyancer whereas if you instruct a volume conveyancing firm it is likely he will not.

The person with day to day conduct does not need to be qualified so long as the partners of the firm which employs him are, since you are instructing the firm itself and not the individual. There are many very talented but unqualified conveyancers (and many solicitors whose abilities leave something to be desired). After all, it is likely that an unqualified fee earner will do nothing but conveyancing and so will have a great deal more experience than a solicitor who has been practising for the same amount of time but mostly in another area of law.

Nonetheless, some people will simply not be comfortable unless they have an actual solicitor acting and if you are one of those people then in general you should avoid volume firms, though some do have some solicitor fee earners.

How Important is Cost in Your Choice of Conveyancer?

Moving home is an expensive time and if cost is an issue in deciding who to instruct then the volume firms are usually the cheapest option.

You should steer clear of any firm which operates on a time recording basis (where you pay by the hour) as this will almost certainly be more expensive than a fixed fee deal, of which there are many available.

The volume conveyancers can be cheaper for several reasons. First, not seeing clients in person means they need less office space and their offices do not have to be as accessible so that they can set up outside of the city centres where rents are cheaper, second they employ mostly unqualified staff whose salaries are not as high as their qualified counterparts and third, they will deal with a high number of transactions per month and so, just like supermarkets versus shops, they can sell their services for less because they sell more than the high street firms.

Do You Need Advice on Anything Else Such as Tax, Wills or Trusts?

What a volume conveyancer cannot generally do is offer advice on other areas of law which might arise out of a conveyancing transaction such as trusts, wills, matrimonial law and tax issues. Even if the firm has other departments which specialise in these areas the individual handling your case will often not be able to assist you and additional fees will be payable if you want advice from another department.

If you instruct a smaller firm and a solicitor who deals with other areas of law; then he is likely to have at least some knowledge of most areas of the law.

Do You Need Your Transaction Completing Quickly?

The large volume firms tend to place a lot of importance on completing a transaction quickly. This is partly because they need a high turn around to maintain profits and partly because their work is referred by banks or large estate agent chains who measure their performance on speed. Also, they will only deal with conveyancing and will not be distracted by other matters.

With a high street firm on the other hand, you may find that if the solicitor dealing with your case is on leave there is no one to cover, or he may have to spend a week at a trial in which case your conveyancing transaction may not be his priority. Traditional firms generally tend to place less importance on speed (though more on quality).

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