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A guide to Conveyancing

A property solicitor or conveyancer needs to be instructed by the home buyer or seller to handle all the legal side of moving.

Every house purchase is different but in general they deal with drawing up contracts, transferring money during a house sale, stamp duty payments and the Land Registry.

Ten years ago, most people saw a local solicitor in their high street. Today there is more choice available.  In addition to traditional lawyers with training in different aspects of the law, there are also licensed conveyancers who have less legal training but specialise in property.

Conveyancing services are also available online or through call centres. So how do you choose – and what are the pros and cons?

Estate agents, mortgage brokers and lenders might all recommend firms for you to use. But be careful.  The recommendations might be because they are known to provide a good service but often they get paid a commission that can add hundreds of pounds to your bill.

It pays to shop around and get a few quotes.

Our Conveyancing page provides instant quotes from solicitors and conveyancers in your local area. The website also includes consumer reviews.

In addition to fees for the legal work, “disbursements” are paid to third parties, such as local authority search fees to research planning permissions and building regulations consent for a property. It is important to ask when given a quote, what disbursements it includes to make sure you are comparing like-for-like.

Check what costs you will have to pay if the sale falls through. Some firms offer “no move, no fee” deals. Others offer “fixed fee” conveyancing with all the costs upfront. This is an advantage over traditional solicitors charging the client every time they make a phone call or write a letter, bumping up costs.

Internet conveyancing services are often cheaper as they have lower rents by not being based in the city centre. They may be located in an industrial park at the other end of the country or thousands of miles away in India.

The advantages can include value for money and extended opening hours compared with high street firms. But some internet-based firms have been criticised for poor customer service and lack of personal touch.

They deal with clients over the telephone and email – never face to face. They may also lack local knowledge.