Buying a new home is exciting, whether it is a first-time purchase, a step up the property ladder or a buy-to-let investment. In all cases, you will need a conveyancing lawyer to act for you to ensure you are alerted to any potential problems or risks, and that your purchase proceeds as smoothly as possible. When considering quotations for the cost of conveyancing, it can be like comparing apples with pears. There are, however, some important things to look out for, as Helen Harris, residential property lawyer at Forrester Sylvester Mackett explains.
What type of conveyancing service do you want?
With advances in technology, there are now a number of different ways in which conveyancing services can be provided, including online and via telephone-based operators who may be located along way from the property you are buying or selling. Think carefully about the type of service you want and whether you are happy being dealt with remotely or would prefer a more personal, face-to-face experience.
You also need to think about the frequency with which you want to be kept up-to-date. Some low-cost conveyancing services work on the basis that communication is kept to a minimum. If this is not what you want, then it pays to shop around.
A good conveyancer will always keep you in the loop about progress and be on hand to answer any questions, which makes the process much less stressful.
Have they got local knowledge?
Different areas of the country, and even different areas of a city or county town, can have features which make them unique. For example, there may be a history of flooding in an area or of subsidence due to former coal mining activity. A certain road may locally be known to be affected by Japanese knotweed or it may be common knowledge that the build quality of a certain development is not up to scratch.
Appointing a local conveyancer will increase the likelihood of you becoming aware of local issues so that you can factor them in to the decisions you make. Local knowledge will also help to ensure that all necessary searches are carried out, including specialist searches relevant to the particular area you are buying in and which might not obviously occur to a conveyancer who is not familiar with the area.
What is included in the price?
Like budget airlines, care needs to be taken when considering the headline price for a conveyancing service as there may be hidden costs and charges that need to be factored in. A good conveyancing quote should make it clear how much you will be charged for legal services, how much you will be charged for searches, when VAT will be added and any other ‘extras’ for which a fee may be levied.
Sometimes, it is only the legal costs that are advertised, which can be misleading and make it difficult to compare quotes accurately.
What about the practicalities?
There are lots of forms to fill in when buying a house, and a number of documents that will need to be signed or inspected. Think about whether you are happy dealing with this electronically or through the post, or whether you would prefer to do things in person.
Property fraud is on the rise, and one of the advantages of using a local solicitor is your ability to deal with more of the process face-to-face, thereby reducing the risk of falling victim to online scams.
Have you heard good things?
Talk to family and friends about who they used to buy their home and what they thought of them. Word of mouth recommendations can be a great way of locating a good conveyancer and can save you a lot of time and energy.
If you are thinking about buying or selling a property and require a conveyancing quote, please call the residential property team on 01225 755621 to discuss your requirements.