The 8 questions everyone should ask

A solicitor or conveyancer is the person responsible for making sure all the legal aspects of buying a property are in order. They’ll carry out duties including handling contracts, undertaking local council searches and transferring the funds to make sure your sale goes through successfully. Though you don’t need to hire one, it makes sense unless you really know what you’re doing. You can read more about what they do in the Smoove Move moving guide to conveyancers. And if you’re about to hire one, here’s a quick 8-point list of essential questions everyone should ask to make sure they choose the right conveyancer for their move.

What are you?

It may sound rude, but get this one clear from the get-go. Which type of professional are you actually hiring to help you cut through all that the legal red tape and get moving house? You need to know this because conveyancers are available in two flavours: Conveyancing Solicitors and Licensed Conveyancers. The former are fully trained and qualified to provide all legal services of with conveyancing is just one. The latter are trained and qualified in conveyancing only.

So what’s the difference?

First off, they are regulated by different bodies which means they follow different professional protocols and rules.

Then there’s the training. With a much wider spread of legal know-how, a solicitor will be qualified to help with any other legal matters that may need sorting out to finalise your property purchase. On the flip side, a Licensed Conveyancer only handles conveyancing duties, so should be well-versed with everything involved.

Finally, the fees. Brass door plaques and pin-striped suits don’t come cheap and, in line with their professional status, you will generally pay more if you hire a solicitor rather than a Licensed Conveyancer to help with your move.

Will there be a conflict of interest?

Though solicitors can’t act for both the buyer and seller without telling you, Licensed Conveyancers can. Using a different conveyancer will mean your interests are put first whether you’re buying or selling, so make sure you ask this question.

Is conveyancing your speciality?

If you choose a Licensed Conveyancer this should not be an issue. But if you decide to go with a solicitor, ask if this is something they do regularly.

How much will you charge?

Your chosen conveyancer may charge one of three ways: Fixed fee, percentage of the property price or hourly rate. Make sure all quotes you get include VAT and are fully broken down so you know what you’re getting for your money.

Try and avoid an hourly rate. This can soon add up. Also, consider whether the lowest cost will provide the best service. This is one thing that can really hold up your move or incur other expenses if it goes wrong or there are long delays. We would always recommend choosing the conveyancer who can deliver the best service, not the lowest quote.

What does your fee include?

The price quoted should always include charges for searches, bank transfers, Land Registry fees, stamp duty (on properties over £125,000 as of May 2018) and ‘disbursements’, which is another work for postage and courier costs. You don’t want to face an unexpected demand for money at the last minute, so always ensure your quote is clear and in writing before you proceed.

Who will be handling my conveyancing?

Make sure you have a clearly-defined person handling your case who you can easily get in touch as and when questions arise. With just one person handling your case , things will go quicker. It’s also essential that you know the best method to contact them.

How will you keep me in the loop?

Getting the lowdown on your conveyancing progress is essential. Each successful step takes you ever-nearer to owning your new property so this is a nail-biting time. When milestones are reached or more actions are required, you need to know straightaway. Many specialists will provide you with instant updates to your PC or smartphone whilst other more traditional professionals still rely on mail and telephone calls. The quickest way is always best here, so make sure whoever you choose is up to speed with the latest technology to keep you up to date 24/7 and minimise those sleepless nights.

Will I have your undivided attention?

Holidays, other cases (if you choose a solicitor) and unexpected events such as illness can put your chosen conveyancer off their stride when it comes to getting your job done and dusted. Ask if they have anything in their diary that may delay things, and what they will do if they can’t work on your job because of illness.

Smoove Move is here to help you choose the right property, the right conveyancer and every other moving service you’ll need. Download the free app from the App Store or Google Play and see how easy it makes moving.