Choosing a conveyancing solicitor has become more complicated in the last few years. In days gone by it was simply a case of choosing from a handful of local high street solicitors. Today, though, in addition to your local solicitors there are dozens of websites offering online conveyancing at reduced rates.
From a consumer point of view more competition is usually a good thing, however, in this case it is something of a double edged sword. This is for two reasons:
- First, if you instruct an online solicitor you can’t speak to them face to face. This isn’t usually too much of a problem, though, as business is simply transacted by phone or email
- Second, and more seriously, there are some horror stories about “call centre” style online conveyancing services with all the problems we associate with, well… call centres
Dealing with a legal “call centre” is definitely something you don’t want to be doing over something important as the sale or purchase of your property!
On the other hand there are some excellent solicitors available online – many of them also being traditional high street firms, who just happen to get a certain amount of their business online.
And, there are big savings to be made. It’s not unusual to save £300 to £400 per transaction by going online.
So how can you square the circle? How can you make online savings with a conveyancing solicitor you can trust? Fortunately, there are four simple steps that should protect you if you decide to go down the online route:
1. Find a “conveyancing specialist”
Your solicitor should have an established reputation and specialise in (or have a department specialising in) conveyancing.
2. Get a “fixed fee” quote
Don’t hire a solicitor on a “per hour” basis. This is how costs skyrocket and get out of control. Make sure you get a “fixed fee” quote, which are now becoming more common. If a solicitor will not provide you with one then look elsewhere.
3. Get a “complete” quote
Dodgy conveyancing firms (both online and high street) will provide low quotes to get your business and then add lots of expensive hidden extras known as “disbursements”. All expenses should be included in your initial quote, otherwise it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.
4. Get a “No completion – no fee” quote
Up to 1 in 3 property sales fall through, creating unexpected legal costs. Find a solicitor who will work on a “no completion – no fee” basis, so that if your transaction falls through you won’t have to pay legal fees.
If you can find an conveyancing solicitor who ticks all four of these boxes you should be able to get the savings of going online without the anxieties.
To find out more about online conveyancing click here: conveyancing.
This article was written by John Tighe who is the founder of the online estate agency website HouseHop.co.uk and a non-practising solicitor.
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