The system of property transfer in this country is relatively archaic when compared to those of most other countries. The variety of age and tenure of UK property forms a complex framework on which sit further complications such as easements, rights of way, restrictive covenants, planning restrictions, building consents, possessory titles and disputed boundaries.
Despite some streamlining to the conveyancing process over recent years, there is no doubt that there will always be a need for an efficient and effective solicitor or conveyancer to handle the considerable legal work before, during and after exchange of contracts.
But, just like estate agents, there are good solicitors and there are not-so-good ones. They all do the job of getting you moved, but some are more fastidious than others. This can be to your advantage, or it can be a problem. A really thorough solicitor will scrutinise every clause in every document and alert you to things a slap-dash solicitor might have missed. For example, you could find yourself liable to pay for the upkeep of a road that was assumed to be public highway, but turned out to be private!
However, a particularly thorough solicitor, or an overworked, understaffed one, can also sometimes be the slowest. Where there is a competing buyer hot on your heels, speed can be absolutely critical. Slow conveyancing is one of the biggest causes of sales falling through, because it provides a greater window of opportunity for someone to pull out of a sale for a variety of reasons. That’s why we always recommend that our clients instruct a solicitor/conveyancer shortly after appointing us to sell their home – and we’re happy to help our clients with the paperwork as well.
So when considering which solicitor to use, just like estate agents, don’t simply judge them on the fee they charge, but seek a recommendation from someone who has moved recently or from your estate agent, and get the ball rolling early – it could save your sale!
Neil Newstead, FARLA MNAEA MIRPM
CEO – Oakfield Estate Agents