You can save cash – possibly thousands – on solicitors’ fees when buying or selling but you have to ask the right questions. Knowing common pitfalls will save you from agreeing on a favourable quote and ending up with a staggering invoice. Finding the right conveyance solicitor ensures a less stressful transaction since you’ll be liaising with a legal firm qualified to serve you and interested in completing the deal.
Solicitors who handle property transactions – conveyancers – do have a reputation of being at the rather high end when it comes to fees. However, the effects of the global financial crisis have brought these prices down and there are savings to be made in a consequence. Despite the received opinion, your fees to almost any solicitor are generally minute compared to what you’ll likely pay to the estate agent. Still, it’s worth getting four or five quotes together and haggling for the best deal.
Resist settling for the first firm your estate agent recommends, it;s common in property to get paid for referrals. A good agent may pass on the name of a good solicitor but for your needs, it mightn’t be the best one. A friend or relation may know of a solicitor that did good work in the past, this is a more reliable reference although, similarly, check that the firm is right for your circumstances. Remember that you don’t necessarily need a local firm. There are solicitors offering value-based services who may be further away yet could do the job perfectly well and for less.
Generally, it’s best to telephone various legal firms and compare quotes. Beware that comparing offers can be a hypertensive task, many solicitors will offer you everything but the final cost. Many conveyance solicitors now include in their charge work involved with any mortgage subsequent to the transaction. Be sure and check if this is indeed included in their offer since some of the smaller mortgage firms automatically employ in-house solicitors. You’re then stuck with two legal bills for the same job.
Don’t rule out online conveyance services. A good online firm can offer the same services but at a heavily reduced price – you are unlikely to meet physically with your solicitor too many times anyway. Make sure you pick a no-sale no-fee service which ensures that you will not pay a penny if the deal collapses for any reason.
Online firms naturally have lower costs and this should be reflected in their final quote. Just make sure that any online company has UK based contact details and is registered with the Law Society of England & Wales. We’d recommend telephoning an online solicitor before agreeing on a contract, just to be sure you’ve got a telephone contact and not just someone behind a computer screen.
You could, of course, do it yourself – but that’s only recommended to those with both the expert knowledge and the time required. If it suits your circumstances then conveyancing on your own is perfectly achievable, there’s nothing to stop you from taking this extra work on if you can afford to.
The academic textbooks are out there on all aspects of conveyancing law and online book retailers do stock guides on how to do this task yourself. Be sure and check the average customer reviews of all books giving advice. Beware that taking on your own conveyancing means the liability for error lies solely with you. If you fail to read properly or act correctly on a contractual obligation you may end up having to visit a solicitor and paying more to rectify the mistake.
Remember that the verbal quote given to you by the solicitor may not include VAT and that you will have to pay more for tax-deductible services – stamp duty being a common example.
Your solicitor could add administration fees to your final bill and bank charges are also applicable on completion. Always be aware of these extra, perhaps unmentioned, details as they could have a sizeable impact on the final charge.
Legal fees get higher south of the Watford gap. To find a solicitor who offers a fixed-fee service if it is available in your area. Fees generally rise as property prices increase. Using a fixed-fee service for your conveyancing you can ensure that the fee will not change regardless of the property’s sale price – especially worthwhile with transactions above £600,000.
In London try and find a solicitor outside of Underground zones one and two as using one within this central area will result in pretty large charges no matter where you shop. To ensure you’re working with the right conveyance solicitor the first time around, focus on the following questions:
- How has the solicitor been trained in conveyance? What is his or her experience?
- What are the typical charges for a property sale or purchase?
- How long do transfers for similar deals usually take?
- What is the best way to communicate back and forth? How often will they be in touch, and how long does it usually take to get a response?
- Does the firm operate on a fixed-fee basis, commission based on the price of the property or do they charge per task?
- Is mortgage service included, and if so, is there an additional charge for this?
- If not, how much will it cost to do this independently?
- Are bank charges included in the final quote, particularly those incurred on completion and transfer?
- What additional charges may apply to the deal?
- What happens in the event that a property purchase or sale falls through?