Should I Instruct a Solicitor or an Online Conveyancer for my Property Transaction?

Jun 30, 2016
The way that legal services for property transactions are provided has changed drastically over the past few years, and will no doubt continue to adapt for the foreseeable future. The vast majority of communication with your legal adviser will occur electronically, by email, or by the telephone. There has recently been suggestion of a ‘Conveyancing App’ that allows a client to track the progress of their transaction on their smart phone. 

As a direct result of this development towards a perceived ‘modern’ approach to the process, the concept of an ‘online conveyancer’ has arisen. These companies are conveyancing firms who sell standard services on the internet that are usually backed up by a call centre. The call centres will often be vast warehouses of conveyancers dealing with thousands of conveyancing transactions at any one time. For the consumer involved in a transaction, this naturally raises the question as to whether to instruct such an online firm to represent them, or to instead instruct a qualified Solicitor.

A Solicitor (or Legal Executive) is a qualified lawyer, with extensive training in many aspects of law. This means that they can offer a full range of legal services. Although that may seem unnecessary at the outset, a property transaction is usually the largest financial transaction in a person’s life, and as such other legal services can often be a necessary consequence. 

On the other hand, an online conveyancer will usually have limited training that solely relates to the standard conveyancing process, meaning that they cannot give advice on complex legal issues. More specifically to the conveyancing process, the qualifications and training of a Solicitor or Legal Executive means that they are able to spot any issues or concerns that relate to the property, both legally and often practically, and they will be able to properly advise you on those issues. If a crucial problem is not addressed before your purchase completes, liability for that issue will subsequently become yours to rectify at your own expense. This could potentially make the property much more difficult to sell in the future, especially if your future buyer has instructed a Solicitor who will then identify the issue that was originally missed. 

A further consideration in this decision is that many Estate Agents are paid a referral fee for recommending a certain Solicitor or conveyancer to you. This is much more likely to be the case where an Estate Agent has recommended an online conveyancer. Although the Estate Agent has reason to recommend a certain firm to you, because they will be paid a certain bonus, this is of course irrelevant to you personally. You should always ask for the reason that the Estate Agent has made their recommendation, because the most important factor to you is the level of service that you will receive. At Nockolds, we do not pay any referral fee to any Estate Agent, so their recommendation is solely based on the high level of service that we offer. 

A final point to consider is whether there is a difference in costs between an online conveyancer and the Solicitor. Usually an online conveyancer appears to offer their services cheaply, although you should be careful to look for any hidden costs or fees. As one example, if there is an administration fee for submitting a Stamp Duty Tax Return on your behalf, this additional cost is completely unavoidable because it forms a crucial part of the transaction. A quote from Nockolds will always be fixed and flat, in that it will not increase unless some other unanticipated service is required, and the single fee covers all the work throughout the entire process that is required to ensure that your matter reaches a successful conclusion. In any event, as mentioned above, the most important factor for you should be the level of service that you receive, because the transaction can be the most expensive and stressful event you will encounter, and as such the cheapest fee does not always mean you will receive the best value. 

If you are looking to embark on a property transaction, whether you are a first-time purchaser or a seasoned property investor, Nockolds can offer the extremely high level of service, care and efficiency that such an important transaction deserves, making our competitive costs the best possible value to you. 

Please do not hesitate to call 01279 755777 if you would like to discuss your transaction with a qualified professional, and we will be delighted to help.

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