12 May Why a local conveyancing solicitor can save you time and money
There has been a big surge in online firms offering cut price conveyancing in recent years. These transactions are conducted solely online with a call centre for customer support. The business model behind online conveyancing factories is that conveyancing can be drilled down to a few standardised steps. And if you are one of the very few house buyers who have the kind of simple transaction that millions of stressed buyers envy, then you could be quids in.
The reality is that many of the property conveyances that take place each year are not straightforward tick-box exercises. When hundreds of thousand pounds are at stake, why take the risk of a faceless service with no idea of the local market in which you are buying property. When you are selling property, the problems are not as obvious. When buying, mistakes and delays can both be costly and frustrating.
Local solicitors get a bad press. The stereotype of a stuffy old office, drenched in mahogany and dust, with an affable, bespectacled solicitor charging eye-watering amounts by the hour is what drives so many to the online outfits. But that is an outdated perception. Many local conveyancing solicitors are modern, IT savvy and cheap. In fact, many local solicitors now charge similar prices to the online firms. Once disbursements and other hidden fees are taken into account, there often isn’t a great deal of difference. The service you can expect is another matter.
There is a lot to be said for local knowledge. It is true that it is not essential to the conveyancing process. But if you want to reduce the time spent on irrelevant enquiries, picking up on non-problems and sometimes missing real problems, someone who has spent years transferring local property usually has a lot to offer. As an example, London conveyancing solicitors will be more familiar with the quirks and peculiarities of city housing stock, especially Leasehold transactions, than a call centre in Blackpool.
And then there are the problems that crop up in seemingly simple conveyances all the time. Issues with title, access rights, legal easements, building regulations and other notifiable works and noisy neighbours, to name but a few, can all sour a perfectly amenable purchase of a new home. A good, local solicitor will already know which of these to look out for in your particular property. They should also have the time and dedication to look at your case individually and dig out any issues that someone simply automating your purchase could very well miss.
And the rest
The unspoken rule with online conveyancers is that you don’t ask too many questions. A good local conveyancing solicitor should have someone willing to keep you in the loop, answer your questions and, significantly, advise you when things crop up. And then there is the proximity. Every time you need to sign or deliver a document, you can just visit the offices of the local conveyancer, shaving days at a time off the process.
When it comes to conveyancers, there are no guarantees. But if price is relatively equal, or better, there are few downsides to choosing a good local conveyancer over an online alternative. Time, money and sanity are all in short supply when buying and selling houses, so any opportunity to save all three should be grabbed with both hands!