If you’re selling your house using an Estate Agent they will usually “recommend” a Conveyancing Solicitor for the Exchange of Contracts process  – the one who pays them a referral fee, not necessarily the most efficient or cheapest. Only use this solicitor for selling a house if you are happy with the quality and price!

How to choose the best Solicitor for you…

Before you make a decision on which solicitor to use to sell your property, you should:

1. Decide whether to use a local or online firm

Your preference may be to use a local solicitor for selling a house, as most people still do.Apart from the fact that many of these are “recommended” by Estate Agents, this way forward is largely a relic of the pre-internet age.It is often easier and cheaper to use an online legal firm when selling your property. You do not need to meet them although you will need to send them Proof of Identity, etc.

2. Shop around

Most solicitors have a fee structure related to the value of the property. This is reasonable as the Indemnity insurance premium they pay is similarly structured.However there is no doubt that some solicitors exploit this to their advantage on the assumption that the higher the property value, the more the client can afford.They will also usually charge more for a leasehold property, as the work involved on these can be significant.Some solicitors and conveyancing firms will charge you a fee even if your sale falls through, which will leave you out of pocket. Be careful to select a firm who will not charge you a fee in such circumstances.If they do incur any external costs on your behalf then it is only fair that you pay these. For example, they will need to pay for a copy of the Title Register from the Land Registry, so if they request this before your sale falls through then you will be required to pay for it.If you want to use a local solicitor for selling a house, ring 3 firms and ask for quotes, telling them the sale price and whether the property is freehold or leasehold.Alternatively there are a several websites where you can fill in a simple online form and get a number of quotes from either Solicitors or Conveyancing firms to sell your property.

3. Compare apples with apples

Whenever you get a quote check that it includes everything, or that it’s clear what extras there will be, and how much these should cost. Be careful as some will charge for things like phone calls or postage on top and you need to be sure you’re comparing apples with apples.For each quote, ask them to confirm that there are absolutely no extra costs in addition to the basic fee, plus any extras they have advised you of.Don’t forget V.A.T. This will make a significant difference to your final bill!There can be a big difference in fees between what various solicitors charge when you sell your property – hundreds of pounds, sometimes even more.

4. Check the quality!

It’s a false economy to pick the cheapest without finding out if they are efficient.At worst, an inefficient solicitor could cause delays that result in your sale “falling out of bed”. You need to check them out carefully.First, speak to them and see if you feel confident that they will do a good job.Then look at their website – do they have testimonials from satisfied clients?Finally type the name of the firm into a search engine and see what you can find out about them. This will only take a few minutes

5. Check their system

It’s more important that whoever you use has an online system that tracks the progress of your case.In addition, a Legal firm or Conveyancing company who has an online system, that automatically updates you as things progress, is usually a sign of a well run and forward thinking company – the kind you want to deal with.

Instructing your solicitor or conveyancing firm

When you have chosen the firm you want to use, ask them to confirm their quote in writing. Check this carefully to make sure there are no hidden extras.

By Richard Watters

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