Cheap is not cheerful when it comes to conveyancing
With the uncertain economic times we find ourselves in we are all looking to save money where we can. Legal services are no exception.
However, we offer a strong word of warning when it comes to cheap conveyancing. All too often cheap conveyancing proves much more costly in the short and longer term.
David Wallis, partner and head of residential conveyancing at GA Solicitors, warns that buying or selling a home is hugely stressful and the last thing anyone needs is further stress brought about by the service (or lack of it!) provided by the chosen legal representative. “Choosing the cheapest is often not the wisest move as you genuinely get what you pay for and the offers of cheap conveyancing or low fees should be treated with caution.
The internet is awash with national law firms offering low fees and even local firms offer what appears a cut price fee, but do we really want to trust a property acquisition or sale to a company prepared to undertake all required work at a price not much more than a weekly family supermarket shop? If something seems too good to be true then it probably is!”
When it comes to choosing the right conveyancer for your property sale or purchase, it’s best to approach the process in the same way you would if you were you making any other major purchase. After all this is likely one of the biggest purchases or sales you will ever make. If you were looking for a holiday for example, you would almost certainly read some online reviews. Don’t rely simply on reviews on the law firm’s own website but visit an independent customer review site such as Google or even Facebook. These show a true picture of the service you are likely to receive as they are written and posted by that law firm’s clients. GA Solicitors is proud to have a rating of 4.4/5 on Google, compared to some local firms who score as low as 2 and national firms who score as low as 0.5. Not all law firms are the same and provide the same level of service.
Here are some of the things to think about when you come across a cheap quote:-
- CAREFULLY read the terms and conditions– Many conveyancing firms will draw you in with an inflated promise of cheap conveyancing but when all their additional costs are added, you could be in for a nasty surprise.
- Go for quality, rather than price – You get what you pay for. If you’re paying bargain basement prices, don’t expect a 5-star customer experience. Many so called ‘cheap conveyancing’ firms operate like a call centre, and instead of having your own dedicated conveyancing lawyer, you might end up being passed round from one non-qualified member of staff to another. You will be a reference number – not a named client.
- Volume – many of these cheaper firms work in high volumes to try and make themselves profitable. When dealing in volume it is easy for mistakes to be made and things to be missed. Identifying potential issues prior to exchange is crucial, otherwise you may find you have purchased a property with a right of way that stops you building that extension you wanted, or a home which could have a motorway built on it in five years’ time. These are dramatic examples but sadly this does happen
- Beware of ‘factory conveyancing firms’ recommended by some estate agents – Some agents will recommend or insist that you use their in-house conveyancing firm who’ll be many miles away and often outsource the work abroad to people who are not qualified. Such conveyancing firms will often be linked to the estate agent and not be truly independent. DO NOT BE BULLIED – IT IS YOUR PROPERTY.
- Deal with a specialist – Choose a specialist not a generalist. Some conveyancers operate in general practice which means you’ll often be competing for their attention whilst they deal with non-property law matters such as will writing or divorce.
- Know who you are dealing with – Make sure you are told who is in charge of your case, and you have their direct phone number and email address to reach them. This will allow you to contact the person dealing with your case quickly if needed
- Stay local – Many cheap conveyancing firms are hundreds of miles away. Choose a local conveyancer who has specialist local knowledge and is accessible should you have any concerns. There is no substitute for being able to put a face to the name and talk face to face about any concerns
- Make the most of technology – You’ll want to know what’s happening with your case all the time. Many cheap conveyancing firms will not offer SMS updates or direct email or phone access to the person dealing with your case. AT GA we will even talk to you via Skype if that’s what you would prefer
- Choose a firm of solicitors – Many cheap conveyancing firms are not solicitors and do not have to operate to the same high standards, nor are they bound by such strict regulatory requirements for client protection. A lawyer is not a trained or qualified solicitor and is not bound by the same rules
- Ensure the firm is Conveyancing Quality Scheme accredited by the Law Society – many cheap conveyancing firms will not be Conveyancing Quality Scheme accredited which is a charter standard run by the Law Society guaranteeing the firm provides the highest levels of skill and client care.
So if you’re thinking about instructing a firm that advertises ‘cheap conveyancing’ or very low prices, be warned: cheap does not mean efficient or effective.
For peace of mind (not to mention far less stress) it’s always better to have your conveyancing undertaken by a local, qualified and experienced solicitor who you have met or spoken with.
GA Solicitors provides all these things and more. We understand that moving house can be stressful so we make sure that all our clients are kept up to date at every possible opportunity and our team can be contacted easily and without fuss. For more information please contact us on 01752 203500.