A conveyancer or solicitor is a vital part of the house buying process - Find
out how you can choose the one that's right for you with our
How Can I Find & Choose a Conveyancer
Conveyancing is an unavoidable part of the house buying process that includes the legal transfer of ownership from the buyer to the seller.
The conveyancing process begins once your offer on a property has been accepted and only ends once the keys have exchanged hands, as such, conveyancing is the single most important aspect of the entire buying process.
Considering both the importance of conveyancing as well as the length of time this aspect takes; it's vital to understand the role of a conveyancer or solicitor, and most importantly, find the professional who's right for you.
The following guide will give you a detailed breakdown of the duties of a conveyancer or solicitor and can help you through the long, winding, road that is buying a home.
What do Conveyancers and Solicitors do?
A conveyancer or solicitor is responsible for a multitude of tasks throughout the house buying process; they will work as an intermediary between you and the seller, give you legal advice, carry out relevant searches and deal with all the legal aspects of the transaction.
In addition to these roles, conveyancers or solicitors are also responsible for informing the land registry of a sale, as well as transferring your funds to pay for the property.
What is the Difference Between a Conveyancer and a Solicitor?
While they ultimately both do the same job, there are some subtle differences between the two professions, as well as a considerable disparity in terms of their respective fees.
Firstly, conveyancers are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers while the Solicitors Regulation Authority regulates solicitors. A solicitor is a qualified lawyer who boats extensive training across a full raft of legal services including divorce, deaths, marriages and more. Meanwhile, conveyancers are property specialist lawyers who are predominantly focused on dealing with residential transactions.
From the first glance, it would seem that choosing a solicitor is a needlessly costly
endeavour when you could instead go with a conveyancer who would be able to get you
through the majority of transactions. However, it is important to consider the pros and cons
of both professions, before rushing into any decision.
While both conveyancers and solicitors are highly qualified lawyers, conveyancers are experts in the property sector and typically boast more in-depth knowledge about the market than a regular solicitor may.
The cost of hiring a conveyancer is normally considerably cheaper than that of hiring a solicitor. It's important to note that both professions are mostly identical, but as the conveyancer specialises in property, they may not be adept at handling non-property centric issues that could arise during the sale.
As solicitors boast a more comprehensive understanding of the broader legal system, hiring a solicitor is recommended when you're facing a potentially complicated purchase that may throw up significant hurdles along the way. Quite often, this can be in the form of a divorce, death or territorial dispute over the ownership of the land that the property resides on.
As mentioned previously, solicitors do cost more money than the average conveyancer, so unless you expect the deal to have some major issues along the way, you could be potentially overspending by hiring one in place of a conveyancer.
Another issue that many will face with solicitors is that due to their well-rounded legal knowledge, they may stretch themselves too thin as they're more likely to be focusing on a myriad of other cases besides yours. When going through the house buying procedure time is often of the essence, and the slower you move, the more likely it is that you may be gazumped during the process. Please see our in depth guide to learn more about Gazumping and how you can avoid it.
Ultimately the decision over which professional to choose is entirely up to you. We would recommend that you stick within your intended budget, as well as considering the timeliness of the professional and any issues that you expect to arise during the sale; before making your decision.
Solicitors are usually more expensive than conveyancers and are qualified lawyers, so they can offer a full range of legal services. Licenced conveyancers are specialised in property but can't deal with complex legal issues.
The costs involved with using a conveyancer or a solicitor can greatly differ from firm to firm; as such, we would strongly recommend getting quotes from at least three different firms.
Some of the fees you may encounter and should be aware of include:
Some conveyancers (especially those online) might offer a ‘No Sale, No Fee’ proposition, whereby you’ll only pay their conveyancing fees if the property purchase is successful. On average, No Sale, No Fee offers tend to be more expensive than standard conveyancing costs, but as a trade-off, you’ll be effectively covered from paying costly conveyancing fees even if the deal falls through at the final stages.
How to Find a Specialist
There are a variety of ways that you can find a conveyancer or solicitor,
Online conveyancing. You could decide to choose an online — only firm to help you reduce your costs even further.
Ensure your chosen property specialist is a member of the Law Society of England & Wales or the Law Society of Scotland , as well as a member of the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme. Meanwhile, conveyancers must be members of the Council for Licenced Conveyancers.
Online forums and message boards — Canvas the opinions of homeowners and experienced home seekers to help you make an informed decision over which conveyancer/solicitor to choose.
Ask around: Speak with your friends, family or mortgage lender/independent financial adviser for recommendations. However we would strongly advise against relying on recommended solicitors from estate agents.