I am buying a house and the estate agent is recommending that I use their ‘panel solicitors’, who are based 200 miles away; should I? What other things should I consider?
When people are choosing a legal advisor to help with buying and selling property, there are many things that they will consider, such as price, recommendations and location.
What many people do not consider is whether the person they appoint is qualified and experienced enough to carry out the work; rightly so you would think – it should be fair to assume that if you instruct a firm of Solicitors or Licenced Conveyancers then the person you speak to is qualified.
However, unfortunately it is often the case that many larger firms (particular estate agency panel firms) employ teams of unqualified individuals to undertake the conveyancing on a tick-box exercise basis, with just one qualified person supposedly overseeing and supervising everything. This sometimes only comes to the attention of the buyer or seller once the transaction has commenced, at which point most people think it is too late to switch.
What difference does it make?
The result is that the smallest of problems on a matter, which might otherwise be easily dealt with by qualified conveyancers, cause unnecessary delays and stress for everybody else in the ‘chain’.
If you choose a Solicitor, Legal Executive or Licensed Conveyancer to act for you, you know that they have had to go through a thorough training process and are required to undergo regular training in order to keep their knowledge up-to-date. Also, if you choose local, then you will be able to actually see who is acting for you, rather than just relying on post and email (although with modern technology, distance is not a bar to good service).
Is it a genuine referral?
Your agent may also be receiving a considerable referral fee for ‘recommending’ their panel firm and so you should ask them whether this is the case; using the panel firm on the other side of the country is unlikely to save you any money (and may actually cost much more than a qualified Solicitor), but may well earn the agent some extra fees on top of their commission!
Points to check
Our recommendation is that you only instruct your conveyancer once:
a) you have spoken to the person who will actually be doing the work for you and been provided with a detailed estimate of costs;
b) they have confirmed that they will be dealing with your matter from start to finish and they have confirmed their qualifications/experience
You should also check that the firm you instruct holds the Law Society’s ‘Conveyancing Quality Scheme’ accreditation.
Whilst some transactions are easier than others, conveyancing is, despite the common misconception, not simply a tick-box exercise – property law is complicated, with lots of traps for the unwary; you should only entrust what is likely to be one of the biggest (and sometimes the most stressful) investments of your life with someone who is qualified and experienced to look after you and who will be with you every step of the way.
At Batt Broadbent, it is a matter of principle for us that you will always have direct contact with the Solicitor or Legal Executive who is responsible for your matter; we would be delighted to hear from you:
Chippenham – Sue Badminton; A Legal Executive with 20 years’ experience. 01249 472 444.
Salisbury – Andrew Hart; A Solicitor with 28 years’ experience. 01722 411 141.
Salisbury – Martin Short; A Solicitor with 32 years’ experience. 01722 411 141.