5 Questions To Ask When Instructing A Conveyancer

Newspapers, family and friends may tell you that moving house is one of the most stressful things you will ever do. This is not surprising, given the amount of emotion, memories and money tied up in a home. To ease that stress, here are some points to consider when searching for a professional, qualified conveyancer to handle the most important part – the legal stuff.

  1. Who will be acting for me? Watch out for conveyancing ‘factories’ where you could be given an unqualified, inexperienced conveyancer who will most likely have a very large caseload, or find that you are not actually given one main point of contact at all and are instead speaking to a different person every time you call. In this set up, you are unlikely to be in touch with someone who is familiar with your case.

  2. What are their charges? Ask for a quote with a full breakdown of costs. Most conveyancers work on fixed fees now but some still act via hourly rates and you will not be able to predict how many hours a transaction may take. It is not always possible to exactly quote for all disbursements, such as searches on purchase or a freeholder’s enquiries fee on the sale of a flat, but you should have a very good idea at the beginning of how much you need to budget for legal costs. Watch out for ‘hidden’ charges such as extra fees to fill in stamp duty forms or extra fees to act for your mortgage lender, these are sometimes excluded from a ‘fixed fee’ quote but then hidden in the small print or at the end of a transaction.

  3. What happens if your conveyancer is away on holiday or sick during your move? Will their work be covered, or will their absence/leave delay your transaction?

  4. What documents will they need from you immediately? Ask what ID/proof of funds they may require now so you can be collating them in advance and your transaction isn’t slowed down by them asking for documents piecemeal.

  5. Does the agent have recommendations? You should instruct someone known for their proactivity, who takes a pragmatic approach to transactions and who will maintain strong communication with you and your agent whether in writing, email or via telephone rather than leaving questions unanswered. Ask if they are paying a referral fee; are they recommending this particular conveyancer because they genuinely think they will do a good job for you, or are they receiving a fee for sending you their way?

This is likely to be the most expensive purchase of your life so far, you need to confident in the ability of the conveyancer handling the crucial legal details, so be thorough in determining the answers to the above questions, and you are more likely to find a qualified and professional conveyancer who will help ease the process of moving house.