Buying a home can be exciting but also extremely stressful, therefore employing the right team to help the process run smoothly is essential.
Employing a conveyancer is high up on the list, but it can be tempting to look only at the price when deciding on a Conveyancing Solicitor to use. After all, they are all the same, right? The short answer is no. Conveyancers vary not only on the quality of the service provided but also on the transparency and reliability of the figures quoted at the outset.
The danger of focusing in on the cheapest quote is that it may not accurately reflect the true costs of the transaction. You may only find that out when it is too late, so it is always best to carefully compare online conveyancing quotes at the outset.
To make an informed decision on which Conveyancer to choose, it is vital to ensure that price comparisons are made between fair and accurate quotes. The right information at the right time is crucial in making the best choice. Just as a survey on a house might reveal something not obvious on the first viewing, conveyancing quotes need to be looked at with care also.
There has been a lot of attention focused recently on Conveyancers accused of under quoting in order to win business. Conveyancing accounts for a large proportion of complaints about lawyers and unexpected costs form a significant area of that unhappiness. A recent study by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) found that about 1/3 of the sample firms visited needed to carry out additional work, or charged extra fees, which had not been anticipated in the initial conversations with the client. This stems from a failure to take the time to properly understand the needs of the client and the nature of the transaction.
The problem with this is the client relying on the accuracy of the online conveyancing quote, perhaps regarding other quotes as uncompetitive as a result, and then of course being faced with requests to meet additional costs at a crucial time in the transaction. Buying or selling a house is already an emotionally charged time, so surprise financial charges can add additional stress. These extra costs have been found to include bank transfer fees, administration charges, ID checks or deeds of trust dealing with the important issue of the ownership of the property.
Firms that underquote in order to win business are unlikely to be as concerned about the level of service to the client. This can mean that errors are made, and the process takes much longer than it might or that the transaction is not dealt with by someone of sufficient experience.
Your Conveyancer should explain to you all of the costs involved, at the beginning, in a clear and easy to follow way. Many of the costs in a conveyancing transaction are set in stone and they do not vary between Conveyancers. These include local authority search fees, land registry fees and other fixed costs. These are often referred to as ‘disbursements’ but it is down to the Conveyancer to make sure they quote the correct fixed cost. The fees charged at the Land Registry for example, vary depending on the nature of the transaction and so it is very important that the right fees are in the quote.
The costs that can vary between firms is the price charged by the conveyancing firm for working on the transaction, called the ‘profit cost.’ This is where understanding your needs and the precise nature of the transaction from the outset is vitally important. It is usual for a fixed cost price to be quoted. By providing a fixed cost price it means that everyone knows where they stand, what the client is paying for and what can be expected for the price quoted. Certainty means not having to worry about unexpected bills part way through the process. A fixed fee does not change even if more work than is expected arises. You should ensure that your online conveyancing quote makes clear the total cost of the firm doing the work so that you can budget effectively and compare quotes sensibly.
It is sometimes tempting to think that all Conveyancers are the same and be seduced by an attractive price offer. It is too late when you are committed to a sale or purchase to find out that not all was as it first appeared to be. You need to be sure at the start that the conveyancing quote does not contain any surprises further down the line.
Clients need to carefully compare the cost in the quote against the level of service. Basing a decision on who to choose based on the cheapest price alone may lead to more expense in the long run, increased frustration, stress in the process and this then in turn means that expected deadlines are missed adding to the costs.
Many people rely on recommendations from friends, family or professional advisors when choosing a Conveyancer, which is a good route to take. Although price has to be a factor for each individual of course, but as with all services you need to compare what you are actually getting for the price you pay. Talking to friends and family regarding what services they received for the price they paid is a good start.
Costs should be made transparent at the outset, fixed and tailored to the matter being handled. No two transactions are the same, each client is an individual and should have a quote based on their specific needs and requirements.
Speed and level of service should be regarded as just as important as a simple price comparison of the conveyancing cost too. It is also important to consider whether the person recommending a particular firm has anything to gain by doing so! The testimonials on review sites and the converyancing firms site reflects clients actual experience of the firm rather than someone with a financial interest in the process.
Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS)
Make sure the conveyancing firm you choose is accredited by the CQS. The CQS is a quality assurance standard operated by the Law Society. Any firm meeting the CQS standard has proved a commitment to the highest levels of customer service. It is described by the Law Society as ‘A best practice quality mark that clients can trust’
Firms with the CQS accreditation have shown that they have the necessary skills and expertise to provide a high-quality residential conveyancing service. It also ensures that they are able to provide all the information that clients need to understand the process, choices, costs and timescales from the outset. This is critical when making an informed decision about who to choose.
An online conveyancing quote is a great way of finding the right Conveyancer for you. But when making the choice it is vital to look very carefully at the figures in the quote, look out for hidden extra costs and compare carefully the service provided. Choosing a CQS firm will guarantee that you choose someone who specialises in conveyancing, and provide the safeguards and reassurance needed before, during and after the process.
Main Image Source: Via idealhome.co.uk – Image Credits: Colin Poole