Conveyancing – Picking The Right Solicitor Is Crucial

When deciding to buy a property, many people do not appreciate how important it is to find a specialised, experienced and competent solicitor, especially if they are buying a residential property.

A solicitor’s role in residential conveyancing is first and foremost to ensure that it runs smoothly and efficiently. In complex residential conveyancing deals, as with commercial conveyancing, the role of a solicitor is varied – they are responsible for drawing up drafts of contracts specifically designed for the deal, as well as spotting any problems that might arise and any factors that could affect the value of the purchase.

You should find a conveyancing solicitor that has experience in your kind of purchase. It is also advisable to do this research and make a preliminary decision before your offer on a property has been accepted. After an offer has been accepted the seller can put pressure on you to complete quickly and agree a mortgage with your lender. Therefore, the least thing you want to be worrying about is finding a good solicitor.

How high-quality conveyancing solicitors can benefit you:

An efficient solicitor should work to the following schedule:

1. The lawyer draws up a sale contract and fulfills all the relevant local searches. They should also anticipate any relevant additional searches, which may be relevant to the individual property.

2. Once in receipt of the seller’s questionnaire and fixtures and fittings form, he/she should raise any appropriate enquiries in relation to your personal requirements.

3. Any potential problems raised by the local search results should be reported back to you, the client.

4. The draft contract will be sent to the seller’s solicitor via DX (document exchange). If this is approved then it will be checked by you and signed.

5. If everything is in order then the solicitor will request the deposit money from you and authorisation from your lender that you have access to the appropriate funds.

6. If all questions have been satisfied, an exchange and completion can take place concurrently.

7. Lastly, if there are any outstanding issues the solicitor should be able to draft watertight conditions precedent into the contract for sale.

Good solicitors will always keep their client informed of the progress of the deal. Many firms now have an on-line tracking system where you are able to visualise the progress of your conveyance. In using a competent solicitor a straightforward residential conveyance should only take weeks.

How a bad solicitor can affect your conveyancing:

A poor solicitor will follow the above schedule, but may work in a much less efficient way, which will severely delay the timescale of your conveyance:

1. He/she will wait for the local searches before preparing the draft contract, they will also file away the title deeds received from the sellers solicitor.

2. Once they receive the generic local searches they may raise a few more alternative searches for clarity. This is done subsequently, rather than anticipating the type of searches needed in relation to location/type of the property and obtaining these at the same time.

3. Upon receipt of the seller’s replies and the results of the further searches he/she will then produce a draft contract and send this off to the seller’s solicitor for approval using the postal service rather than DX.

4. When the contract is returned he will post it to you for checking and signing. You will then sign this and return with the deposit monies.

5. He/she will then contact the lender for approval of the mortgage; this can take anything up to 4 weeks before coming through.

6. Eventually you are ready to exchange and hopefully complete without any further delays.

Working in such a traditional and slow manner, the above solicitor could slow your conveyancing process from weeks to months. In delaying the purchase you also run the risk that the seller becomes impatient, looses confidence in your intentions and thus pulls out prior to exchange.

This highlights the importance of prior preparation and research in choosing conveyancing solicitors. Always try to match a firm to your individual needs, a good place to start is their website and contacting their conveyancing team directly.

Bonallack & Bishop are specialist conveyancing solicitors with particular experience of enfranchisement work. Tim Bishop is senior partner at the firm, responsible for all major strategic decisions. He has grown the firm by 1000% in 12 years and has firm plans for continued expansion.
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