Posted on 5th May 2015

The Pitfalls of Choosing the Wrong Conveyancer

Martin Williamson, Head of Residential Property

Conveyancing is probably the most important part of the home-buying process. Yet, for many, choosing which conveyancer to use is something of an afterthought.

Property buyers, particular those purchasing their first home, get caught up in the excitement of finding the right house. Then, there are the hoops that must be jumped through to secure a mortgage. So, its no surprise that appointing a conveyancer can be bottom of a long "to-do list, with many people simply opting for their estate agents recommendation or the cheapest they can find.

With all the expense that comes with buying a home, price is naturally a factor when choosing who will help to complete what will be one of the most important purchases of your life. Some people, looking to save as much money as possible, even look at DIY conveyancing but the only saving you will make if you DIY are solicitors fees and VAT. You will still have to pay search fees and the lenders solicitors fees. Theres also the issue of peace of mind. Whilst solicitors have indemnity insurance, you and you alone will be responsible for any mistakes you make.

In recent years, a glut of online services has developed, offering fixed-fee conveyancing for as little as £200. Communication will often be with a call centre or via email, with no option to simply pop into the office with paperwork to speed up the process.

According to latest figures from Post Office Money and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, in the past 10 years the cost of home purchase conveyancing has risen less than the fees charged by estate agents and surveyors.

In the 10 years up to 2014, the overall cost of moving rose by 58% to £11,894, whilst the cost of conveyancing went up by 37% to £1,419.

That old adage of you get what you pay for, can often hold true when it comes to finding a conveyancer or specialist solicitor to deal with the whole process of transfer of legal ownership of a property from the seller to buyer.

Choosing the cheapest fee may not be the most cost effective long-term solution, particularly in complex cases where there are issues with boundaries or rights of way.

Conveyancing involves attention to detail and a lot of paperwork. Timing is key. Anything not correctly completed and processed could cause considerable delays even, in the worst case scenario, leading to a sale falling through.

Make sure your conveyancer has time for you. If theyre handling too many cases, you could find they are impossible to get hold of, which could cause real frustration and problems, particularly if youre new to the house-buying process.

A good conveyancer or solicitor will carry out the right searches, and ask the right questions. Without these, it can prove incredibly costly for you, even in the years to come after you have moved to your new home.

Factor time into the process to find and establish rapport with a good conveyancer. It will take some of the tension out of what is one of lifes most stressful events.

Please note: This article is intended as guidance only and does not constitute advice, financial or otherwise. No responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by Latimer Hinks.

Martin Williamson is Head of Residential Property at Latimer Hinks Solicitors in Darlington. Latimer Hinks has a team of around 40 people serving private and corporate clients. For further information: www.latimerhinks.co.uk or call 01325 341500