How to choose the right solicitor when buying or selling a home

When selling your property, once you have accepted an offer you will need to instruct a solicitor to carry out the conveyancing process. If you are buying a home, the same process applies once you have had an offer accepted.

Conveyancing is the process which legally transfers the ownership of a property from one party to another. Once instructed, the solicitors working for both sides of the transaction will liaise on contracts, documents and searches, progressing the transaction towards exchange and completion.

Working with a solicitor involves lots of communication and it's commonly accepted that making the wrong choice could delay your move or, in the worst-case scenario, contribute towards it falling through.

Instructing the best solicitor is therefore crucial for a successful property sale or purchase, but how do you go about making the right choice?

Personal service is key

Much like your estate agent, the solicitor you choose to work with should be able to provide you with a bespoke service. The solicitor you instruct is responsible for a number of important processes, including handling contracts, providing advice, carrying out searches, dealing with HM Land Registry and managing the transfer of funds.

The conveyancing process can sometimes be frustrating and time-consuming, so it's important that you work with a firm that you are able to contact easily and a representative that knows the ins and outs of your transaction.

Remember, you are likely to be working with your solicitor for a matter of months (sometimes longer), so you need to be able to build an effective working relationship with whoever you choose to represent you.

Look carefully at fees

When it comes to solicitors, the fees you can be charged tend to vary. You may be charged a fixed fee, an hourly fee or sometimes a fee based on the percentage of the property sale price.

For most people, the option of a fixed fee is the best route to take as this means you know how much the conveyancing process is going to cost so you can budget accordingly. What's more, you don't want to be in the dark about costs and hit with a nasty surprise further down the line just as you're preparing to move.

Some solicitors - like estate agents - charge on a no sale, no fee basis. This can also be hugely beneficial path for buyers and sellers to take as it means all parties are invested in getting the transaction finalised as quickly as possible.

Local is best

Similar to many parts of the moving process, conveyancing can benefit from being handled on a local basis. There are many remote conveyancing firms based in call centres across the UK.

We generally advise our clients to avoid using these services as even though the initial cost may seem lower, the non-personal and non-local service could end up costing you more in the long-run.

Working with a local solicitor who has an understanding of the market you're buying or selling in can be really valuable. What's more, if they have an existing relationship with all the local estate agents, the chances of your transaction completing smoothly are increased.

As a buyer or seller, if you can pick up the phone and speak to your solicitor by name, this can provide you with the confidence and peace of mind that your transaction is in the best possible hands.

When it comes to something as important and costly as moving home, you don't want to have to identify yourself to your conveyancer by providing your postcode and the last four digits of your National Insurance number.

Here at Knight Edmonds, we have our own solicitors who operate on a no sale, no fee basis, offering our clients a fixed and transparent personal service.

To find out more about how our solicitors can help you to progress your sale or purchase, get in touch with us today on 01622 291 491 or