I got my mortgage offer and now I need to choose a conveyancer, but I’m not sure where to start. No one can recommend a conveyancer to me… My friends just say “don’t use the conveyancer I used, it was awful”. I’m really worried that this process is going to be expensive and stressful when that’s the last thing I need right now. How do I know I’m making the right choice?
– Concerned About Conveyancing
So you’ve discovered that conveyancing has a bad rap.
Why? For exactly the reason you’ve pointed out: so many people have a terrible time. Delays, poor communication and hidden fees compound with the mountains of stress you’re already feeling – the whole thing can be a recipe for disaster.
So, you’ve asked, how does one choose the right conveyancer? How can you be the exception to what seems like the rule?
First, you have to know why the conveyancing process can go wrong – and who is at fault.
Spoiler: don’t blame your individual conveyancer or solicitor. The problem is much bigger than them.
Why do people hate conveyancing?
While conveyancing is an essential process in property transactions, it’s not without its issues. In fact, some people in the biz call conveyancing a “black hole”.
This is because the conveyancing process can be totally opaque. As a buyer, you have no access to what’s going on, and you have no insight as to when the process will be complete. There’s also very little you can do to move the process along.
This makes buyers feel powerless and anxious, which, as you’ve said, is the last thing you want to be feeling while trying to buy a home.
The point of this information is not to scare you – it’s to give you a clearer picture so you can make the right choice for yourself.
Common issues in conveyancing
If you’re like many buyers, you might encounter one or more of these issues.
- Delays. Conveyancing can be a time-consuming process involving a lot of different people, and delays often occur because of slow responses from third parties.
- Hidden costs. Conveyancing can be expensive, and there may be additional costs that are not initially apparent. These can include fees for property searches, stamp duty, and other associated costs.
- Miscommunication. Miscommunications – or poor communication – between the buyer and seller or their legal reps can lead to misunderstandings and errors, which can cause delays, frustration and stress for you.
- Legal complexities. Conveyancing involves many legal procedures and documents, and this is multiplied by the other property purchases in your chain. One minor error can have ripple effects.
These hiccups aren’t just inconvenient. Failures in conveyancing can, on occasion, actually cause your purchase to fall through.
The reason these problems are so prevalent is because conveyancing as a process is not fit for purpose.
But this isn’t the fault of the very hardworking solicitors and conveyancers out there. So often, conveyancers are set up to fail – by high workloads, low wages and old, outdated systems. The problem is the system itself.
If you get a quote that seems too good to be true, it probably is – think critically and get a clear, transparent quote before you sign on.
Choosing the right conveyancer
As one person, there’s little you can do to change the system at large. At Gen H, we’re working on creating change – but it’s an uphill battle and no one has the silver bullet.
So what can you do? Your question hits the nail on the head: you should choose your own conveyancer carefully.
I can’t tell you who to choose or why, but I can share a few positive signs to look for. Just be sure to do your own research before making your choice.
Fair fees – not too high, not too low
Everyone wants to save a few pounds, but this may not be the time to skimp.
For example, you might find a conveyancer that offers a completed transaction for just a few hundred pounds. But these quotes can come with surprise costs and hidden fees for things like searches that can cost you way more than you might have expected.
I can’t tell you what the “right” fee is. You have to do your own research and decide on your own. But if you get a quote that seems too good to be true, it probably is – think critically and get a clear, transparent quote before you sign on.
You can work with a dedicated conveyancer
Budget conveyancers may hand your work off to a team rather than one dedicated conveyancer. This means many hands can touch your case, and you won’t typically have a single point of contact to collaborate with if something goes wrong.
Working with a dedicated conveyancer can mean a more convenient and airtight process for you. You’ll have one person to call – someone you know and build a relationship with – and they’ll learn your case inside and out.
Having a good relationship with your conveyancer can make all the difference.
Really good reviews on TrustPilot
Reading the reviews has three stages. First, check the overall rating. 4 stars or higher is probably a reasonable place to start.
Then, read the positive reviews and make sure they seem legitimate. Bonus points if happy reviewers name specific people at the company. If you can, ask to work with one of these people directly.
Then, read the negative reviews. What issues do these reviewers point out? Is there a common theme? Use these to ask specific questions of a prospective conveyancer. For example, “I read an online review that a customer’s documents were lost and their completion was delayed. Does this happen often? What have you changed to make sure that won’t happen in my case?”
Will you be branded a high maintenance client? Yes. Will you have a better grasp on the process as a result? Probably also yes.
Now, a bit of tough love for you. When it comes to making conveyancing into a more pleasant part of the homebuying process, you have a job too.
As the buyer, you need to have your documents sorted and be available to answer any questions that arise. Any hiccups on your account can compound delays down the line. Don’t be that person.
The moral of the story is that it’s fair to worry about the conveyancing process. But by being organised and choosing your conveyancer carefully, you can reduce the risk of something going wrong.
Try not to worry too much – for every “bad” conveyancer, there’s a good one, just waiting for your call.
Our answer to the conveyancing problem? Gen H Legal. You can visit their website to learn more.