So, you’ve found your dream home and you’re ready to buy. Now it’s time to find a solicitor. Most people turn to recommendations from family or friends when looking for a solicitor. But if you don’t know what you need from a conveyancing solicitor, how are you going to find the right person for you?
Licensed conveyancer vs conveyancing solicitor: what’s the difference?
A conveyancing solicitor is a legally trained solicitor who works in property law. A conveyancer is not a solicitor but focuses solely on property sales and purchases. Both are legal professionals and will offer the same conveyancing service. This legal process includes transferring deeds, handling payments, and ensuring you become the rightful owner when buying a property.
You can learn more about the difference in our article about the difference between conveyancing solicitors and licensed conveyancers.
Things to consider:
When choosing your licensed conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor, it is important to consider a few key factors. You must make sure that you’ve chosen a firm who are trustworthy, experienced and efficient when completing the conveyancing process.
You can make sure you’re dealing with professionals by ensuring the firm is accredited. For solicitors, this is the Quality Conveyancing Scheme. It's run by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority). For licensed conveyancers, it’s the CLC (Council for Licensed Conveyancers).
When finding your conveyancing firm through reallymoving, you can be confident that we only work with fully accredited law firms. You can also have a look at how we check our partners, as we’re strict in choosing who we work with.
Reviews are one of the best ways to determine if you can trust a company. Take the time to look at the different solicitors and see what people are saying about them.
You can see reviews left by reallymoving customers. We would also advise that you look for reviews on Google, Trustpilot or social media channels. This way, you will have a better understanding of peoples experience with them.
An early question of yours may be: how much does conveyancing cost? One of the main ways people choose their conveyancing firm is, understandably, by price. Some people are looking for the best deal, some want a price in the middle. Others are happy to pay more for a superior service.
The most important thing is to be aware of what is included in your bill. Will you be expected to pay for any extras, and when will these payments be due? Get an idea of conveyancing costs before begin comparing solicitors.
Most people know they will need to pay for searches, which will be undertaken by your solicitors. Other smaller charges, called disbursements, aren’t always obvious. Be sure to have your chosen firm break down the quote for you, so you know what is and isn’t included.
If you are getting your conveyancer through your estate agent, always ask what the estate agent is receiving for their referral. You may be surprised to learn they are paying £100s for your conveyancing business.
Everyone wants their house move to be processed as quickly as possible, but that isn’t always possible. If you’re on a deadline, let your conveyancing solicitor know, so they can tell you if it’s realistic.
The average time for completion is 8-10 weeks. Some simple purchases can go through within 6 weeks, but often that is not the case. Sometimes this is down to things like searches, or paperwork being backed up by your seller.
Try to ask solicitors about their timescales and express your situation. This way, you get a clear idea of how likely your move date would be with them.
Many conveyancers have portals which show you exactly what is happening in your transaction. Most will send an automated email or text to you when a milestone has been met. A milestone might be paying your deposit, your searches being returned, or being close to an exchange. Many people find knowing this information is reassuring.
Find out if a conveyancing solicitor uses any of these technologies or how they keep you informed of any changes.
One of the main bugbears from those who were not pleased with their conveyancing firm is communication. During what can seem like an arduous process, people want to be updated regularly. From a conveyancer's perspective, often there isn't anything to update the client on when they're waiting for paperwork or searches results.
Be clear about the level of communication you expect. If there is a priority, let the conveyancing solicitor know. Similarly, ask about whether there’s a dedicated point of contact. If they take a holiday or are away during key times in your move, you'll need to know how to get in touch.
What you don't need to consider.
Your conveyancing solicitor does not need to be local to your new property to deal with the process. As long as they are capable of representing you in the appropriate part of the UK you do not need a local conveyancer. Keep in mind that Scotland has a different buying process to England and Wales, and both Scotland and Wales have different Stamp Duty laws.
Updated December 2023