We hope that you have all been listening to our recent ranting and that you have heeded our advice on how to prepare your house for sale and on cherishing your estate agent; it’s the time of year when everyone appreciates a good cherishing and a mince pie….and possibly a carol or two in their offices, but that might be a step too far.

I have every confidence that you have all been listening and so I expect you have been long anticipating our next piece of advice: what to consider when choosing a solicitor.

When it comes to engaging someone to act on your behalf for conveyancing, understand ONE thing; you get what you pay for. A cheap conveyancor is (in our humble opinion) a total false economy. If you don’t know a good one ask around. If someone had a bad experience they will tell anyone that will listen, but a good experience you will have to hunt for – people don’t tend to shout about the good things when it come to professional advice because it’s not always very interesting. It just saves them money.

By all means get quotes, of course you should, but be clear what they are quoting you for, are they a licensed conveyancor or are they a solicitor? A licensed conveyancor will be cheaper but they will not necessarily do as good a job if things get tricky or when things are not run of the mill. We recently recommended a solicitor to a client of ours who was not cheap and it took some convincing, by the time of completion, the solicitor had paid his own fee in the savings he had made our client. When it comes to leasehold properties, please make sure it is a solicitor who has reads the lease….

Make sure that you choose a solicitor who is happy to communicate with you and your estate agent by email on a regular basis, if there is nothing to report back then they should be happy to tell you that, and why. It helps no end in keeping everyone calm and on track. Solicitors can sometimes be a bit snobby about dealing with agents but do so they must. The agent is on the front line and they need the information to allay fears and move things forward at the appropriate time. You are a sales team, there is no point in your agent chasing your seller to find out why nothing has happened only to find out that their solicitor is not in receipt of the draft contract. Team work please people.

Once you have instructed your solicitor, and let’s be clear here, you need to do this as you instruct your estate agent, not once you have found a buyer. Once they are instructed ask them to prepare a draft contract along with responses to standard enquiries. This means that once you have agreed your price, your solicitor can send out a sellers pack immediately and if the standard enquiries are already answered you will have taken a good few days off your wait time.

Just like a good estate agent, a good solicitor is worth their weight in gold, so make sure you are happy to pay for it, it WILL be money well spent. Don’t forget that you do not need to instruct a solicitor in London just because you live in London and the property you are buying or selling is there. There are many brilliant solicitors who work elsewhere in the country and they often don’t need to charge the same high rates, so if your friend in Suffolk knows of a brilliant solicitor – use them. And finally, please remember, if you would like a referral press your bell and ask us, we are happy to advise on who we think is good might suit and no, we don’t charge for it!