Should You Beware Of Cheap Conveyancing?

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Can cheap conveyancing be good conveyancing?
Well as long as you know what traps to look out for, you’ll find that good conveyancing can be cheaper than you think.
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Moving house is an expensive time. There are survey fees, mortgage arrangement fees, removal fees, new furniture, decoration, the list goes on and on, so the last thing you want to be spending a lot of money on is conveyancing, particularly when there are so many cheap conveyancing deals on the market. You must beware though, a hundred pounds saved now could be thousands spent in future if things go wrong.

It is true that there are a number of high quality conveyancers out there offering some cheap conveyancing deals, after all it is a very competitive market, but there are some poor ones too. It the costs are kept low by cutting corners then it probably is not worth the risk.

Is Cheap Conveyancing Really So Cheap?

Firstly, many “cheap conveyancing” deals turn out to not be so cheap after all. Before you start make sure you explain the nature of your transaction. If it is a flat, or it's shared ownership, even sometimes if you are taking a mortgage or if you are selling, have a second mortgage, the true cost could be higher than the original quote.

Firms offering cheap conveyancing also have other “extras” such as a fee for transferring funds electronically (a “telegraphic transfer fee”). Most firms charge this but a reasonable fee is probably around L25 - L30 plus VAT. The actual charge by the bank is usually around L5 plus VAT or less. Another trick of the cheap conveyancing firm is to charge extra for completing the SDLT1, which has to be completed in every purchase over 40,000.

Any firm does have to advise you of any amounts it will charge as soon as it is aware of them and as a result they will often have a schedule of additional fees. Ask for a copy of this, which they ought to be able to e-mail to you, and ask which are likely to apply to you.

Will a Qualified Lawyer Be Available if Needed?

Conveyancing is a little different from most other areas of law, in that many of the staff who run the files day to day (often called fee earners or case handlers) are not qualified. This doesn't just happen in cheap conveyancing firms and not being qualified does not mean that a person is less capable (in fact being qualified does not always mean a person is capable!). What being qualified means though is that that person has had to undergo some quite rigorous academic and vocational training and that they are at risk from sanction from their professional body should the service they provide fall below the acceptable standard.

Some cheap conveyancing providers have very few qualified staff and as a result there is a danger that there could be a lack of experience and no expert to turn to if something turns out to be more complicated than first thought or if something goes wrong.

It is good idea therefore to ask whether the person dealing with your case will be qualified, i.e. will they be a solicitor, licensed conveyancer or legal executive? If not, will their immediate supervisor be so qualified? It may seem harsh on an experienced, non-qualified fee earner however you need to be sure that your interests are protected.

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