Buying a House

Questions To Ask a Solicitor When Buying a House

When buying a house, choosing the right solicitor is crucial to ensure a smooth and stress-free process. The first stage is to ask the right questions when viewing a property. The next stage is to ask the right questions to ask your solicitor. To help you along with your home-buying journey, here are 15 essential […]

When buying a house, choosing the right solicitor is crucial to ensure a smooth and stress-free process. The first stage is to ask the right questions when viewing a property. The next stage is to ask the right questions to ask your solicitor. To help you along with your home-buying journey, here are 15 essential questions to ask your solicitor to make an informed decision:

  • How much will you charge? Conveyancing fees will consist of their own fee for labour, other disbursements, and additional costs such as stamp duty and land tax. It’s important to clarify the solicitor’s fees upfront and ensure they align with your budget.
  • What additional costs could there be? Conveyancing charges can vary, but sometimes, a quote will not include all costs. Understanding potential extra expenses, like local authority searches, will help you plan financially for all the conveyancing costs associated with buying a house and knowing what you will need to pay and when.
  • Is there anything to pay upfront? When getting conveyancing quotes, it is important to ask about any initial payments or deposits required to kickstart the conveyancing process and when these costs will be payable. For example, sometimes property searches can be done at the very start of the conveyancing process, and the Solicitor will ask for payment for these upfront.
  • What do I pay if my sale falls through? Knowing the solicitor’s policy on fees in case the home-buying process doesn’t go to plan and the transaction doesn’t go through is vital. Some conveyancers offer a no sale, no fee option, but it is worth understanding exactly what this means. It may be that fees such as property searches are excluded from other fees and payable upfront, so you will not be reimbursed if the sale falls through. The best way to approach this is to ask for a breakdown of fees and costs and what happens with each in the event of the sale falling through.
  • Who will handle my case? It doesn’t always matter who works on your case, but it is always worth making sure you feel comfortable that the person handling the purchase is experienced with your type of case. Having that person’s name and direct contact is essential to ensuring the process runs smoothly, and you won’t waste time ringing a general number to get an update.
  • What is their current caseload? Different conveyancers will have different caseloads, and you want to make sure that yours will have enough time to give your case the time it deserves and tht their caseload won’t result in unnecessary delays. Understanding their workload also helps gauge their availability and ability to advise you on how long the legal process will take.
  • Have they dealt with cases like mine before? Experience in handling similar property transactions can be reassuring in that they know what they are doing and will be confident to make decisions without delaying the process by perhaps having to check with a more experienced colleague. This is especially true in more complex cases, such as leasehold properties or new builds, where using a conveyancer who has dealt with similar cases is beneficial.
  • Do they have any holidays booked? Knowing if your solicitor will be away during your transaction allows for contingency planning. Christmas and summer are two times in the year when most people book holidays, so if your purchase is going through at those times, it is worth checking if your solicitor will be away and who will take over the case in their absence so you don’t get any unexpected delays.
  • How often will you update me? Regular communication is crucial, so clarify the frequency of updates you can expect and confirm a contact name and number for you to be able to ask for an update. Most solicitors will update you regularly. However, it is beneficial to explain how important regular communication is to you and get an idea of how frequently you can expect an update at each stage in the process so that you know what to expect.
  • What is the main method of communication that you use? Most conveyancers use telephone and email to communicate with clients. Some documents have to be sent in hard copy, but some even use apps that you can log into and sign documents electronically. Whether it’s phone, email, or in-person meetings, agree on a preferred communication channel so it’s clear for all parties.
  • What can I do to help speed things up? Most of the conveyancing work will be carried out by your solicitor. However, there will be some things you will need to do, such as filling in and signing documents. Solicitors appreciate proactive clients, so ask at the start how you can assist in speeding up the conveyancing process.
  • What bodies are you a member of? Solicitors are registered with professional organisations such as the Law Society and the Council of Licensed Conveyancers, which ensure they adhere to high service standards.
  • Where can I see your reviews? Reading client reviews can provide valuable insights into their service quality and level of professionalism. There is no better way to check the performance of a conveyancing company than reading what people who have actually used them think. 
  • Are you approved by my mortgage lender? Many mortgage lenders will only work with conveyancing solicitors that are on their approved panel, so ensuring your solicitor is accepted by your lender is crucial for a smooth financing process and to avoid your conveyancer being rejected by your mortgage lender.
  • What is your complaints policy? Clarify the procedure for addressing any concerns or issues that may arise during the transaction. Sometimes, a call or email to a Senior Partner can resolve an issue, but if this is not the case, you will need to know the grievance process. Most responsible firms will outline grievance policies in the client care letter, which is sent to you at the start of the process. If a company doesn’t have this in place, consider finding a conveyancing firm that does.

By asking these questions, you’ll be well-prepared to select a solicitor who can navigate your property purchase and get you those keys to your new home quickly and efficiently.

Buying Your First Home? Read Our Buyers Guide…

From mortgages and insurance to viewings, offers, exchange and completion, our Buyers’ Guide will take you through everything, step by step, from start to finish.

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