The Chain is something that looms over so many people when selling and no one wants to be the weakest link.
Talk to many people who have moved and a common frustration will be the legal process, ‘Why does it take so long?’
Talk to many estate agents about solicitors and conveyancers and you will find two trains of thought, one is client focussed and one is money focussed.
The money focussed approach revolves around referral fees and provides an income to the estate agent, in theory there are set service standards that the conveyancing firm will work to and the client should receive a standard service. Surely there’s not a lot to conveyancing, or so you imagine, we’ll cover that in a moment, and costs can be cut with high volumes of transactions being referred.
What’s the downside?
How much do you expect to earn in your job? Nothing comes free so if you have a business model where you are keeping costs competitive and paying a referral fee out of your income then you need to do a lot of transactions to pay your way. How many transactions can one person handle? How many clients can they speak to in a day? How many estate agent calls can they field and still do their job? Trust us, estate agents, or good ones, speak to solicitors and conveyancers a lot, much more than you might imagine, it all uses up their time and time is money.
There are good competent conveyancers out there surviving on this model and providing a decent service, there are some, and estate agents reading this will know them, who are dreadful to deal with. They will get the job done eventually but if the client or the agent calls for an update they will get an operator reading notes off a screen, that person is probably not qualified as a conveyancer and they generally will do no more than recite verse. The net result is frustration. Progressing your sale is all about communication isn’t it. How many people have said, ‘I’m so frustrated with my agent, they told me…’, well what they told you was probably the information they were given by an ‘operator’.
So what about the other approach?
Those estate agents who focus on client service will probably say something along these lines to you.
‘Have you already got a good solicitor you know and trust?’ If you do they should probably be your first port of call when looking for someone to handle your sale. Trust and communication are paramount.
If you don’t then there are two other main considerations.
Think about using a solicitor local to the area you are moving to. Why? Simply because someone with good local knowledge is worth their weight in gold. They have probably handled the conveyance for the home you are purchasing previously or if not then something close to it. They will know the idiosyncrasies of the area, the little strange things that once were just assumed to be ‘oh it’s always been that way’, that now need tackling. They won’t need to decipher strange search results or worry about apparent issues that get thrown up when really they don’t exist.
I remember quite a few years ago when an alteration to how search data was compiled flagged up an area as being built on reclaimed land and solicitors out of the area panicked that the wording inferred it was a land fill site. You could argue it was i guess, land reclaimed from the sea in a process that started around 6,000 years ago and to a landscape that had little changed from the 13th century. Local solicitors knew exactly what the score was but we had a spate of people threatening to pull out because of their ‘out of area’ solicitors concerns, ones who knew nothing of the reality. Fortunately that particular foible of the search process was quickly improved.
The second consideration for choosing a solicitor is about convenience for you. We do live in a digital world and much can be done by post and electronically but solicitors are governed by a number of concerns including money laundering regulations. If your solicitor has never met you then at some point they will want to confirm you are who you say you are. How will you do that? Drive to the other side of the country to stand in front of them or pay a notary locally to sign off your ID confirmation for you to send to your conveyancer, another cost to add to the bill. If you have chosen a solicitor local to where you live this process will be simpler and if you are moving across the country to somewhere new then you may want to think about how you handle this in advance. Plan to see your solicitor when you are going to do a viewing, perhaps in anticipation of offering or at least once your offer is accepted and you are returning for another look.
Nothing is more frustrating than getting ready to exchange contracts only to be told that you need to provide this at a point where it is probably the least convenient for you.
If you are about to move home or are currently in the process then you are doing one of the most stressful things in life. You are also dealing with probably the biggest financial investment you currently have or are about to have.
How much are you about to spend on a home?
The conveyance, like your survey, is there to protect you. If you are taking out a mortgage your bank or building society will require your solicitor to have checked a number of key issues with title etc to protect the lenders interests. At some point you will move again. In between you may wish to extend or alter your home. If you are thinking of altering the property you are buying, mention it to your solicitor and make sure there is nothing within the deeds that might prohibit change. You want everything to be in order but most of all you want a move that is as smooth and quick as can possibly be.
Every registered conveyancer or solicitor should look after your interests, they have legal obligations, a duty of care. Where the difference can really come is in communication and making the process more bearable.
It’s so much better to be able to pick up a phone and at the end of it is ‘your’ solicitor. It’s lovely when you can ask a question and it gets answered, when you feel that they care about you as a person and not just a transaction number. It’s brilliant when you have a conversation and they say, ‘i remember handling this for Mr and Mrs…’ or when you bump into your solicitor in the High Street later on and they know you.
For an estate agent communication is paramount and we always recommend solicitors where we know the client will come first. We love to help the local economy and support the community. Good solicitors are very much part of a community.
Moving is stressful; good communication helps enormously to make it a smoother and quicker process, to retain your sanity.
When you are about to choose your solicitor think about why they are being recommended and if you are choosing them based on costs please ask yourself what the ultimate cost may be, if only to your sanity.
There are lots of great solicitors and conveyancers out there and if you need us to we’re happy to point you in the direction of them, just ask. You can pop a request to us through our website.