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Don’t choose a conveyancing solicitor until you have read this

This article addresses the key failing of many conveyancing solicitors, namely ‘poor communication’ and the devastating impact this can have on your property sale or purchase.

Approximately ⅓ of property sales fall through and in many cases, this is down to poor communication.

Conveyancing is primarily about collating and interpreting documentation and either responding to the buyer's solicitors enquiries or reporting back to a buyer about the property they intend to buy.

Good Conveyancing is about shepherding a large number of parties (buyers, sellers, agents, landlords, managing agents, mortgage lenders, search providers, local authorities and so on) around to ensure that information is supplied, processed and circulated in the minimum amount of time.

Yet to read the reviews of so many firms one could be forgiven for thinking that good communication is a well-kept secret.

High case workloads and poor fees are frequently offered in defense of poor service levels.  In fact, it is perfectly possible for a solicitor to manage a large number of files and still provide a highly communicative service.

How do you find a communicative solicitor?

As a prospective home buyer and seller on the hunt for a conveyancer, how can you be sure that your solicitor will communicate proactively?  This is especially difficult to predict given that most firms are initially very responsive when they are trying to secure your business.

The following list will help you identify whether your prospective conveyancer will communicate efficiently throughout your transaction:

  1. How long did it take to get a quote?
    If it takes days to receive a quote - imagine what it will be like once the firm has your business
  2. In what medium did you receive the quote?
    If the quote is supplied in any other medium than email, walk away.  There is simply no excuse for ploddy old snail mail anymore.
  3. What is the solicitor's preferred medium of communication?
    The answer to this question should be 'phone and email'.  There are very few documents and communications that need to be sent by post in hard copy form during a typical transaction.  To communicate by post can frustrate the conveyancing process significantly.  Every time a soliciutor correspinds by letter it adds days which ultimately compound into weeks or even months added to the time it takes to complete your sale or purchase.
  4. Will you be given one single point of contact during the transaction?
    If not, you may find yourself being passed around in circles when you need to speak to someone.
  5. Can you speak to your solicitor in person before you instruct?
    If not, why not?
  6. Will your solicitor be experienced in handling leasehold transactions? (if applicable)
    There a number of further considerations if you are buying a leasehold property. Leasehold transactions are significantly more complicated and they require far more technical ability and there are more parties to communicate with.  See  If your solicitor handles predominantly freehold transactions you should ask for another solicitor.
  7. Will your solicitor apply for personal searches? (if buying)
    Searches are carried primarily to reassure the lender that their security will be safe.  Lenders accept personal searches and they are usually faster and cheaper to secure.  If the solicitor is still applying directly to the local authority for searches then alarm bells should ring.

Many firms take communication seriously.  They employ sales progressors to push transactions forward and have sophisticated case management systems that proactively drive communication.  The tips above will help you find a firm that will minimise the time (and stress) your move takes to complete.


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