Choose a good solicitor

We are sometimes asked by clients to recommend a local Conveyancing Solicitor and we are pleased to mention a number of very good ones we work well with on a regular basis. This is not in itself a tricky question. Our problem comes when the client is thinking of working with an online only Solicitor, an out of area practice we don’t know , or worse still, a practice which in our experience is not sufficiently energetic and proactive. Our clients trust us to give them some good honest advice.

All of the above begs the question “What makes a really good conveyancing solicitor?”

Given that most property deals represent a very large, sometimes life changing, investment for a great many of our clients  it’s very important that they chose wisely. In some cases their choice of solicitor could determine whether or not a transaction will succeed or fail , be stressful or smooth.

Why is that?

In earlier less frantic times, Solicitors ensured that any omissions / errors etc in the transactions could be rectified amicably with both sides working together in a professional and constructive way. However, increased competition, downward pressure on fees and increased requirements from the mortgage lenders has resulted in this co-operative approach between conveyancers becoming more strained.

Sadly things can and do go wrong from time to time when selling & buying property – for example – unexpected and obscure rights of way and boundary disputes can suddenly loom up large and cause serious complications.

Perhaps the best idea to better understand Conveyancing process is to look at some of the key questions our clients ask us

Q: What do we need to provide to a conveyancing Solicitor ?

A: Information about you and your property to include an ID to comply with Money Laundering regulations and enable online checks.

Q: What does a Local Authority Search cover ?

A: A Local Authority Search plays a crucial part of the conveyancing process and will reveal a great deal of information about the surrounding areas of a property. The search will cover:

  • If the roads and footpaths adjoining the property are publicly maintained.
  • If there are plans for any major and/or minor road schemes close to or abutting or affecting the property.
  • Provide a list of planning decisions affecting the property.
  • State whether the property is on contaminated land.
  • State if the property is situated in a conservation area.
  • Provide a list of building regulations affecting the property.
  • Reveal any enforcement notices for violation of planning permissions against the property.

Q: When will we have to pay ?

A: Various searches on the property need to be carried out and you will need to pay on account to cover the initial search fees and insurance. This money will be held in the Solicitors client account separately from the firm’s own money, subject to the right to transfer and use the same in payment of legal fees and expenses. You should be able to pay by debit or credit card.

Q: Will we have to pay a deposit and if so, how do we pay it and when will it be needed?

A:  Yes, if you are buying a property. Buyers can mistakenly assume that their mortgage advance will pay for the deposit; the advance is only available after completion. Therefore, you can either pay for the deposit with the money you receive from the house you are selling, or you can use the deposit guarantee scheme or a short-term bridging finance. All these options have a cost.

You will be informed when to make your payment–it will usually be a Bank Transfer. Few Solicitors will accept personal cheques nowadays because of possible delays and maybe upsets with other buyers and sellers if you are in a chain.

Q: Who will let our new Building Society/ Bank know when the new mortgage funds will be required?

  1. If you are taking out a mortgage to fund your purchase, the Solicitor will advise your Lender of the date. Ideally the monies should arrive the day before completion to avoid any delays on the moving day.

And what of mishaps ?  – well here are a few examples

Are we selling the whole property ?

A seller’s solicitor may miss out part of the property when supplying title documents to the buyers Solicitor. As the solicitor relies on these when requesting searches, the seller should be asked to check their accuracy before the buyers searches are ordered. Any mistakes may require additional searches on the missing parts later on in the process and could delay progress for weeks.

Access issues / ransom strips etc. can cause problems. Who would want to buy a property with a private driveway that did not connect to the adopted highway road ?

Future costs.

A good Solicitor has a “crystal ball“ and, particularly with leasehold properties, is able to make certain calculations in respect of uncertain future costs. Buyers for example are notoriously worried about any planned works by the Landlord or Management Company. Experience is vital here, as such problems can be addressed by prior agreement and in some cases the buyer can hold back money from the deal to cover these eventualities.

Even after exchange, things can still go wrong.

Solicitors have been known to forget to notify the mortgage lender to send the money on the completion day causing the completion to be delayed. This can however be solved by the Sellers Solicitor drawing up a license to occupy and enable the buyer to move into their new property

But please don’t fret  – the overwhelming majority of Conveyancing proceeds reasonably smoothly and without problems  – albeit slowly at times.

If you wish to discuss the above or are interested in the Property market in Harrogate then please come along and see us and enjoy a free no obligation chat about the services we provide.



About Charles

This blog follows the residential Sales and Lettings market in Harrogate, Knaresborough and surrounding villages.You will find information, analysis and guidance here along with news about Harrogate. I’m Charles Myring working in the Myrings Estate Agents Ltd business alongside my son Simon , daughter Gemma and dedicated sales teams. If you're thinking of Selling / Buying / Letting / Renting property locally Myrings would be happy to assist.