Step 4 - Finding the right solicitor
Be sure to put your biggest financial commitment in good hands
In this article you'll learn:
What a solicitor does during the home buying process
The difference between the cheapest solicitors and others
The reasons why you need a solicitor you can trust
You will need a solicitor if you want to buy a house. This is a part of the process you simply can't avoid but maybe you will come across some online offers that promise to let you do it incredibly cheaply. Since you are going to be spending a lot of money on your new home you might see this as an area where you could make some savings by doing it on the cheap.
There are certainly plenty of dirt cheap online conveyancers on the internet now but choosing one purely for the low cost could be a terrible mistake. The difference between a good solicitor and a bad one is huge. Saving a few hundred pounds on this cost could end up being one of the worst money-saving decisions you ever make.
So why is your choice of solicitor so important? After all, don't they all do the same job in the end? Let's start by seeing what they actually do.
What will your solicitor do for you?
Your solicitor is in charge of transferring the legal title of your new house from it's previous owner, over to you. They liaise with the sellers solicitor, your lender (if you require a mortgage) and also the land registry. It is their job to make sure that your home move goes smoothly and that there are no nasty surprises once you move in.
Checks and searches - Imagine you move in to your new home and discover it floods, that your neighbour has stolen part of your garden, you don't have full access to your shared driveway or that there are plans to build 100 new homes in the field behind your house. Not good - it is your solicitors responsibility to check all this stuff out for you by carrying out a number of checks and searches on your behalf. These include: Local Authority searches, Land Registry checks and Water Authority searches among them. There may be region specific searches too, depending upon the area you are buying in. If your home is at risk due to something then the issue should be found at this point.
Liaise with the selling party - Your solicitor will also liaise with the seller's solicitor and ask any questions that have been raised as result of the checks and searches. It is down to the sellers solicitors to put those questions to their client (the seller), get the appropriate answers and report back to you (via your solicitor). This can sometimes be a lengthly process with questions and answers going back and forth.
Liaise with your mortgage lender - If you are taking out a mortgage then your mortgage provider needs to be sure that their interests are protected - after all, they technically own a share of your home. Your lender will have a list of requirements that your solicitor is legally bound to fulfil before your house purchase can complete. An example of this would be to ensure that any existing residential mortgages are repaid before your new mortgage can start.
Checking legal documents - Your solicitor also needs to make sure that the legal contracts are all correctly drawn up and protect you adequately. One little mistake in these documents could be a disaster for you.
Exchange, completion & legal transfer - Once all the necessary checks & searches have been completed and everyone is ready, your solicitor has the task of liaising with the other solicitors in the chain and arranging for exchange (your legal obligation to buy) and completion (the legal transfer of the property in to your name).
In summary - your solicitor is there to protect your interests at all times. They can be frustrating to deal with, as there processes can seem slow, but their role in the home-buying process is extremely important and finding a good one will mean you have a smooth purchase and get your new home with no nasty, hidden surprises.
Reasons to avoid cheap solicitors
So, you've stumbled across www.super-cheap-solicitor.co.uk and they've given you a price that's £195 less than the next cheapest quote you've had. WOW - you think. Here's a few reasons they may not be the ones for you:
Lack of experience - most of these large 'conveyancing houses' have teams of young, inexperienced administrators working on your case - and when we say inexperienced, we mean 18 years olds who started the job one month ago who have received some basic training. They will work under, and be answerable to a team-leader, who is then answerable to a qualified solicitor. Each team can have 5-7 administrators and there can be 3-4 teams per department. That means that one qualified solicitor is having to 'sign-off' 28 peoples work! Have a guess at what sort of service you will receive by giving one of these companies your purchase deal with. This is no joke.
Slow service - when it comes to solicitors a cheap price = slow service. The bottom line is, they rely on a 'sell it cheap, stack it high' philosophy. You'll ask a question and it'll take a week for them to get back to you with an answer. You'll get 4 weeks in to the process, be getting no-where fast, and be pulling your hair out wishing you'd paid the extra money.
No fixed contact - It is always good to know that there is one person dealing with your case. If you go for a low price online option then you'll find that your work is handed to a team to deal with instead, with no fixed point of contact for you. You might never get to speak to the same person twice, which could cause confusion and delays.
No phone contact - Even worse, you might discover that there is no way of contacting the team by phone when you need an update. This could lead to some incredibly nervous moments when you want to find out some information fast or to resolve a problem urgently.
Hidden charges - There is also a good chance that the service includes hidden costs that end up taking you over budget. For example, they might charge you if extra enquiries are needed, rather than working to a fixed fee that covers everything. If you are working to a tight budget then this could be a disaster. It could even end up more expensive than how much using a conventional, professional solicitor would have cost you.
Too many people try and save money on their legal costs when buying a new home, and do you know what? It's madness. It's probably the biggest financial commitment you will make in your lifetime and most definitely not the time to try and save £200. Do yourself a favour and find a good one - it'll save you a whole lot of time, hassle and potentially money.
What a Professional Conveyancing Solicitor Gives You
What you are really paying for with your solicitor is complete peace of mind. By handing over the legal work to someone you trust you can concentrate on the more enjoyable aspects of the purchase without any fears over legal issues.
Experience - finding a solicitor, or licensed conveyancer, who has plenty of experience means you can be confident in the service you are receiving for all your legal work. This can take a lot of the headache away from you and be put in the hands of someone who knows their stuff.
Trust - there are many areas in the conveyancing process that can seem confusing and it's easy for a solicitor to 'buy themselves time' by fobbing you off with stuff you won't understand. It's important to deal with someone you trust to give you a straight answer and to who helps you understand where you are in the buying process and how far you have to go before you can move in to your new home.
Value-for-money - a good solicitor most definitely wont be the cheapest but you should feel that they have worked hard on your behalf and you feel you have had value for money and a great service.
Would you like to speak to John about your mortgage?
When it comes to mortgages John knows his eggs. His job is to review your individual needs and recommend the mortgage that going to cost you least over the coming years.
The 'Essential 6-Step Guide' to buying your first home:
Step 1 - Know your figures
If you don't know your figures, then you won't know how much you can afford.
Do you sums now and save time later
Step 2 - Get your credit file
Ensuring your have a clean credit file is a must when your buying your first home.
Get your free file now
Step 3 - Choose the right mortgage
Finding the right mortgage can be a minefield of options.
How to find your perfect mortgage
Step 4 -Find a great solicitor
There's a HUGE difference between a good one & a bad one.
How to choose the RIGHT one
Step 5 - Make an offer
Put yourself in the best buying position & blow the competition out of the water.
How to get your house...Fast
Step 6 - From offer to completion
Keep control of your home purchase & make sure you're in the know.
Get informed - Take control