Conveyancing Solicitors, Licensed Conveyancers and Conveyancing Lawyers – A Confusing Choice
There are lots of different legal services out there and available to assist you when you come to buy or sell a house. Residential conveyancing used to be done by a select number of solicitors based on the high street who are not allowed to advertise their services, and were very often recommended by word of mouth or used for generations by the same families. Over time the legal sector has experienced waves of deregulation and now it is possible for a whole wide range of different legal service providers to assist you with residential conveyancing, and it is no longer restricted to the select few.
Conveyancing Lawyer Fees – Check the Website
Prices for residential conveyancing, whether this is the sale or purchase of a house, are now usually required to be advertised on every solicitor’s website. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and they have to be transparent with any pricing structures they have for their clients. So usually if you want to see how much a solicitor is going to charge you for the sale or purchase of your house, you simply visit their website and click through to their prices page.
How Much Should I Be Paying for Conveyancing?
You can expect to pay something in the region of about £600 to £1500 for the sale of your property, and around the same sort of price for the purchase. Usually solicitors do a deal that reduces the price if you go for both sale and purchase at the same time.
Very often prices do not include the various charges that go with the sale or purchase of a house, including the various land registry searches, water board checks and local authority checks. These can add up but they are the same price regardless of where you get the conveyancing done.
Why Use a Solicitor? So You Can Sue if it goes Pear Shaped
Essentially, using a solicitor means that if anything goes wrong you get to sue them for negligence if it can be shown to be their fault. So if a solicitor wrongly advises you that you do not need a particular type of insurance to cover the fact that your neighbour owns part of your garden, and something happens in relation to that part of your garden then you get to sue the solicitor for any losses you have incurred. This is partly why solicitor’s fees tend to be a bit more expensive than other options that might be out there.
What About a Licensed Conveyancer?
The second option is licensed conveyancers. Licensed conveyancers are essentially conveyancers who buy and sell houses who are licensed by a separate body and tend not to do any other type of law, whereas solicitors receive grounding in a whole different wide range of different types of law as well as conveyancing. Licensed conveyancers carry the same sort of the same sort of insurance as solicitors do, and so if anything goes wrong you can also get compensation from them.
Again, their costs are quite often displayed on their websites but not always, and they do have the same additional costs that solicitors have in terms of the land registry fees and the various searches that have to be undertaken when you buy or sell a house.
Legal Executives as well?
There is a third type of lawyer who can assist, and that is a legal executive, and firms of legal executives are starting to be created and regulated by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.
There are no other types of services that can assist you when it comes to buying or selling your home, because residential conveyancing is a reserved activity, and therefore has to be done by somebody who carries the appropriate insurance and is regulated by a recognised body.
So licensed conveyancers, legal executives and solicitors are all the same, but when it comes to residential conveyancing how do you avoid getting ripped off and how do you get the work done cheaply? How do you find a cheap conveyancer?
Cheap Conveyancing Services
If you go online you will see that there are some national services offering to buy and sell your house for as little as £200. These are often large companies run by solicitors or licensed conveyancers, regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Council of Licensed Conveyancers, but offering unbelievably cheap conveyancing fees. Of course the same will apply again, that you will need to pay the same land registry search fees that you would if you used a standard solicitors firm or licensed conveyancer, but these particular types of firms have reduced their fees right down.
How do they do this?
The answer is very simple – they use teams of non-qualified lawyers to do the work for them, and then the work is signed off by qualified solicitors, thus meaning it is still regulated by the SRA and the CLC. So when you get in touch with one of these firms, you will find that your call is taken by either a paralegal or legal assistant, they take your details down, they enter them on to the system and the various different documents are prepared, letters sent out and the process started. At some point when the searches are undertaken to ensure everything is okay, a qualified solicitor or licensed conveyancer will have a quick look at your documents, but then apart from this it is very likely your case will be dealt with by a non-qualified lawyer from start to finish. This means that provided this particular type of company can attract lots of work coming through at any one time; they can make considerable amounts of money by offering the service for very little in terms of fees.
Is the quality any different?
Yes it is, and the reason for this is that the work will be completely done by someone who is not qualified and probably has less than two years experience dealing with conveyancing work. It is also highly likely they will be working from a checklist rather than looking at each matter individually. Whilst this can be very cost effective and also time efficient, it does mean that if anything is unusual about your particular sale or purchase, it is highly possible it will be overlooked or you will be in a disadvantaged position from the fact that no solicitor or qualified lawyer has been able to look at your case and check that everything is okay, and spot any anomalies. However it does also mean that you can save considerable sums of money when it comes to conveyancing.
When to Use a Low Cost Conveyancing Service
If your house is a straightforward estate house with a history of sale and purchase and no awkward land issues, then it is quite possible that the volume conveyancing services available on the internet will be absolutely fine and you will be able to save money and not get ripped off.
When Not to Use a Cheap Conveyancing Lawyer
If you are buying an old house, one that has not been registered with the land registry before, or one that has land or a strangely shaped garden, or a neighbour with rights of way over bits of the property then it is strongly recommended you seek out a specialist residential conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer who can hold your hand and guide you through the process, making sure that your interests are adequately protected.
Don’t get ripped off by opting for the cheapest service when you have a more than simple conveyancing transaction to go through. You must bear in mind your own particular circumstances when it comes to deciding whether or not you want to save money on cheap conveyancing, or whether you want a quality service that is going to protect your interests.
Ten Percent Find a Solicitor Service – No Bias, No Fees
If you want a non-biased opinion of a good solicitor in your area, please visit www.ten-percent.co.uk and search for the Find a Solicitor service. The company gets no benefit from this and is simply able to recommend to you solicitors or licensed conveyancers who, in their experience, have provided a decent service to others. Ten Percent are legal recruitment consultants.
Jonathan Fagan is MD of Ten-Percent.co.uk Limited and TP Recruitment Limited, a set of websites involved in a range of recruitment work. Jonathan has been running small businesses for over 20 years and has a number of interests and investments in companies as diverse as transcription, legal recruitment and a bit of marketing. He is an author of a number of guides and books, together with a children’s novel. In his spare time he enjoys playing golf, cricket, coaching girls’ football, operating a parent taxi, lots of running and paddleboarding on Bala Lake and the River Dee. He is a strong believer in a good work-life balance and regular blogs on making money vs enjoying life. Jonathan’s website is https://www.jonathanfagan.co.uk