Finding A Cheap Conveyancing Solicitor

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Good quality conveyancing doesn't have to be expensive. Any solicitor is obliged to meet certain standards set down by the Solicitor Regulation Authority (SRA) in the Solicitor Code of Conduct. The purpose of the code is to ensure professionalism, client care, fair charging and to prevent solicitors from adopting suspect practices. It also ensure that a solicitor must at all times act in a client's best interests.
Failure to adhere to the code of conduct can result in sanctions against both the individual dealing with the case and the firm which employs hi or her and it applies just as strictly to a cheap conveyancing solicitor as it does to an expensive one.
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What are the Dangers of Using a Cheap Conveyancing Solicitor?

Of course there has to be a downside to using a cheap conveyancing solicitor so before we go any further, a note of caution. The way to keep costs down is to employ unqualified staff (sometimes called paralegals), who as one would expect are much cheaper than solicitors. This is perfectly legal and many are perfectly competent but unfortunately some are not. Even the less able paralegals should be able to deal effectively with a straightforward transaction but if yours is complex, say if it is a new build or on a shared ownership lease or if the title is currently not registered, then as a rule of thumb you should steer clear of the cheap conveyancing solicitor and opt for a more experienced firm, perhaps one on the high street.

Will Your Estate Agent Or Mortgage Broker Recommend a Cheap Conveyancing Solicitor?

Firms often have different fee scales for the same work depending on where it comes from and clients who approach the firm directly tend to pay most. This is because mortgage lenders and selling agents, who are often able to refer large volumes of work, will take fee levels into account when deciding where to refer work. If the agent can get you a cheap conveyancing solicitor you are more likely to follow his referral and he gets more referral fees.

Conveyancers can afford to charge lower fees for this high volume work because ten cases at L300 are better than one at L600. You should therefore ask the selling agent you are buying or selling through whether he is able to recommend a cheap conveyancing solicitor or failing that, ask your mortgage broker if you are buying.

Is Your Quote as Cheap as it Looks?

A common tactic of the not so cheap conveyancing solicitor is to offer a very low basic legal fee to reel clients in and then add on all sort of “extras” which in reality will be applicable in almost every case and really should be part of the basic fee. Things like “fee for dealing with SDLT form” (applicable to any purchase over L40,000) or “fee for dealing with redemption of mortgage” (applicable if you are selling and have a mortgage on the property).

These fees will (or should) be listed in the terms you should be sent to sign before the conveyancing begins any work so you will find it difficult to argue at the end when the bill is double what you thought!

When obtaining a quote ask for a list of the possible additional fees (not all can be predicted but most can). Explain the nature of your transaction, i.e. the rough sale/purchase price, whether you have/need a mortgage, whether it is freehold or leasehold, whether there are any strict deadlines etc and ask what additional fees are likely to apply. Obtain a few quotes and compare them on even terms to find a truly cheap conveyancing solicitor.

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