Buying or selling a house can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive at the best of times, but make a wrong decision with your conveyancer and the process becomes a lot worse…
It all starts with a quote writes Will Clayton, New Business Adviser with MJP Conveyancing.
In an extremely competitive and sometimes rather murky market place, finding an accurate online quote, understanding it and recognising which quote represents the best value for money is a treacherous business.
To this end, we have some advice on exactly what you should expect from an online quote and some of the common pitfalls that befall first-time buyers and experienced property investors alike when looking for an online quote.
What should my quote include?
- Searches – whether you are purchasing with a mortgage or without, it is always important to gather as much information as possible about the property you are buying. All firms will charge for the cost of the searches, alongside an administrative fee for reporting to you on their legal content. Always check that they have been included on your purchase quote! Contrary to popular belief, Chancel Searches are no longer required by major high street lenders and so don’t necessarily need to be included on your quote. A standard search pack should include the environmental, water & drainage and local authority searches.
- Land Registry Fees – The Land Registry charges a fee in order to register your ownership of a property based on its value. However, for first-time registrations the Land Registry doubles its fee – so, for those of you buying a New Build, it is important to remember that you should be charged at a higher rate. Many companies will not include the higher rate in their initial quote.
- Additional Fees – The more work involved in a property transaction, the more your conveyancer will charge for their time. So, it is important to provide as much information as possible when requesting a quote to ensure you are being given the full fee. New Builds, Shared Ownership properties, leaseholds and Help to Buy Schemes will all garner higher fees due to the increased workload. Most firms will also charge for additional administrative procedures; purchasing with a Help to Buy ISA, receiving a gift to help fund your purchase and Declarations of Trust will also carry additional charges. Making your conveyancer aware of these elements before you accept the quote will allow you to assess the full cost of your transaction and plan accordingly. Ask the right questions and you can avoid those dreaded ‘hidden fees!’
- Third-party fees – SRA-regulated solicitors should break down their costs fully to show exactly what fees they are charging and what fees they are paying to third parties (for example, to search providers). Some firms will try to hide fees within their disbursements. If you feel your quote is unclear, ask the solicitor to break down their quote fully for you. Transparency should be the norm, not the exception!
How to choose the right conveyancer?
- Speak to someone. Many people obtain quotes online and simply choose the cheapest quote they can find. As shown above, the initial quote you receive may not always be accurate. Call a firm you are interested in, tell them as much about your transaction as you can and ask them to generate you a bespoke quote on that basis. Obtain in writing their assurances that their fees are fixed and that the quote you have received is accurate.
- Do your research. If a quote seems too good (or cheap) to be true, it probably is. Aside from the tips above, check what their existing clients have said about a firm. A 1* Review does not necessarily render a firm useless, but a string of 1* reviews will normally give you a good indication of the service you are going to receive. There is usually a balance to strike between cheap and value for money; lots of positive reviews can help you to separate an online ‘factory’ conveyancer from an efficient and cost-effective firm.
This is not a definitive guide but it will certainly help you judge whether a quote is accurate and help you to assess its value; do your homework, ask the right questions and you will save time, hassle and unnecessary expense further down the line!