My office is continually asked for quotations for the cost of conveyancing. We always provide them in writing. Some people take up our services but some do not. I always wonder why having gone to the trouble of seeking some information why some clients choose to go elsewhere.
Research by IFF suggested that 86% of customers select their solicitor at least in part on the basis of cost. https://communities.lawsociety.org.uk/Uploads/w/h/r/Understanding-consumer-experiences-of-conveyancing-legal-s
Reducing the cost of conveyancing can be achieved only by spending less time dealing with it. That reduction in time to gather in clients might not affect the majority of clients, but if you are the one who has to spend years arguing over boundaries or can’t sell the property because of a defect in the legal title or on a new build where the planning notices have not been adhered to you might wish that you had bought using a competent solicitor and not a cheap one.
Yes a reduction in cost would be great for everyone and advertising your services at a reduced rate will mean that your desks is covered with files. But when your client cannot speak to you as you don’t have the time, that begins a chain of events where mistakes are made, timescales are not met and dissatisfaction is the result.
What should you look for with a solicitor? Well don’t be told by the Estate Agent – they are probably being paid to refer you. Similarly don’t believe the lady at the site office – she also is probably receiving a gift to refer you to a solicitor. There is now a Court case where several buyers were advised to use a certain solicitor and the fee was very reasonable. Go forward five years and they are all taking action against the solicitors for failing to advise as to an important part of the lease. Yes they were sent to a wonderful lawyer who paid the site agent for a referral and the solicitor simply didn’t do his job. He was probably sitting under a pile of files that he had provided “competitive” quotes for.
Clients I have known will go into debt to buy new carpets and kitchens for their home, but ask them to pay a reasonable fee for house purchase advice and they will look somewhere else. It simply is false economy.
I am not in favour of taking clients for as much as you can – the fees need to be reasonable but also sufficient to enable the work to be done properly.
Some of these cut price conveyancing firms think that acting for a client is simply asking them to complete the correct forms, taking in the money and providing the keys so that the client can access the property. Sadly NO. Your job as a property lawyer is to advise the buyer/ seller who may never have had any experience of a transaction before. Is a survey needed? What searches are needed? What enquiries should be made? What rights are vested in the owner? What obligations are you taking on? What can you use the property for? What cant you use the property for? These are just a few of the many issues that you should discuss with your client-not to let them guess!
Look for the Law Society Kite Mark for conveyancing. Ask how many cases they deal with at any one time. Ask them will they discuss the transaction with you. Ask them for a reference with another client that you can call. All of these are factors far more important and relevant than seeking a “cheap quote”
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