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How can you tell if a conveyancing solicitor is any good?

(33 Posts)
CharminglyOdd Sun 02-Sep-12 13:13:25

We are probably going to be making an offer on a house tomorrow. It's happened fast as there is already an offer in and we have received one month's notice to quit on our flat... buying in our street is something we've been knocking around for a while but not had the impetus to act (house is perfect, total bargain as is repossession etc.).

Anyway, neither of us have bought a house before and (I don't think) have dealt with any kind of legal practice in the UK. DP has had some dealings in his home country but doesn't know how things work here and I just don't have a clue grin

My Dad has suggested we call a local solicitor and ask them a) for a conveyancing quote and b) how fast they can do the conveyancing so that we have them set up and ready to go if necessary. How can we tell if a solicitor is any good please? What kind of responses are we looking for? I have found a regional firm that looks friendly, professional and has an easy-to-understand first time buyers guide setting out what they will do. Are there bodies that they should be registered with?

I'm happy to post a link to the firm but didn't think that was correct etiquette for an OP. Any advice appreciated, thank you smile

jollydiane Sun 02-Sep-12 13:45:24

I think recommendations is the best way. Before you go ahead I would check if they offer a no sale no fee offer. Some mortgage providers insist on a certain number of 'regulated approved persons', so make sure the firm satisfies this need.

CharminglyOdd Sun 02-Sep-12 18:03:16

Thank you. We may not need a mortgage, just need to check if DP can release the funds early. So many things to think about I think we're both spinning a little bit!

jollydiane Sun 02-Sep-12 19:17:49

If you are transfer a lot of money out of your bank account call the bank first to explain what you are doing otherwise the payment will probably get stopped as they will think it is fraud. (A painful lesson I learnt)

thinkfast Sun 02-Sep-12 19:23:20

Check if it will be a solicitor doing the work or a paralegal. Also you often get what you pay for - a firm which quotes more will probably provide a better service than one which is cheap as chips. Also go with a recommendation

GreatBallsofFluff Sun 02-Sep-12 19:33:48

Check to see if the firm is CQS accredited (conveyancing quality scheme). Also as Jolly says, if you need a mortgage it will be far easier and quicker if the firm are already on the lender's panel (HSBC are buggars for having a limited number of firms on their panel).

WhyohWhyCantIThinkofaFabName Sun 02-Sep-12 19:39:10

I would try to get recommendations if possible as I've moved plenty of times and am yet to find a decent one! Also agree with the panel thing...this caused problems to us this latest move...we used the conveyancer recommended by the estate agents and it turned out they weren't on the panel...they sub-contracted this part of the work to her business partners brother (also conveyancer) who was a bit slack and started to hold things up !! when I chased they would say 'the delay is being caused by the mortgage companies solicitor' to which my reply would always be 'oh you mean your partners brother?!!' to which an embarrassed 'yes' would come back! Grrrrr <still smarting about it>

Overcooked Sun 02-Sep-12 19:44:05

Definitely word of mouth, I am a solicitor and hardly any conveyancing solicitors are recommended, I know of only one and it seems that everyone in my area knows of him too. Conveyancing is generally a nightmare so if someone is good enough to make it feel relatively stress free then grab them!

Ask around at work not just friends. good luck.

suebfg Sun 02-Sep-12 19:49:01

Recommendation. Also you generally get what you pay for - sometimes worth paying the extra £100. Finally, be an 'intelligent' client - read the deeds yourself (we noticed for example that a page was missing but our solicitor hadn't) and ask about anything that seems out of the ordinary.

CharminglyOdd Sun 02-Sep-12 20:37:23

Thank you all for your responses, especially about letting the bank know. DP will have funds coming from abroad (large sums) to pay for the house so that will look extra dodgy grin

It's just such a bad time for this to be happening - he has loads on at work, we have received a two month notice on the flat (but in reality need to be out by the end of September), I'm about to go away for a busy week so can't spend much time doing anything, the week after this I'm moving to another city to start a temporary contract and we have guests next weekend. If the house sale falls through we will be essentially homeless until December as we don't know what we are doing after my contract. DP will have to lodge with friends whilst I am away and our stuff will have to be distributed between people's garages. What a mess!

jollydiane Sun 02-Sep-12 20:44:50

wine and brew deep breaths. Everything seems less painless once you have made a list and tick things off.

CharminglyOdd Sun 02-Sep-12 20:58:56

Haha, that did sound rather like I needed a large glass of wine grin I always seem to land on my feet. Poor DP just popped around to our LLs (who are also friends, hence why we are leaving before our notice is up - they have some personal circs that mean we're trying to be as fast as possible) to double-check we can store stuff in their garage and female LL burst into tears sad

I have a really long train journey tomorrow so will make a list and start ticking things off, calling conveyancing solicitors for quotes, ditto surveyors, make a list of things to pack, paperwork etc. I do hope we can get the house because it is lovely, by far the nicest one on the street despite the cosmetic issues it has. I didn't realise how good it was until we visited yesterday.

LittleMilla Sun 02-Sep-12 21:07:14

Charming we are based in Bristol and bought our house two months ago. I can highly recommend Bartons - they are SW based with offices here and other big places in Devon too I think?

My FIL recommended them and although they were more expensvie than some other quotes, the women we had was NAILS. We were ftbers and utterly clueless, she just took the reigns, kept us informed and whipped the other solicitor's ass! It was great.

CharminglyOdd Sun 02-Sep-12 21:08:31

LittleMilla Thank you! Unfortunately we are in the NE, so as far as possible. I will google and check if they have an office in Newcastle as your solicitor sounds great grin

CharminglyOdd Sun 02-Sep-12 21:09:45

*as far away from you as possible

And unfortunately no Newcastle office, never mind.

LittleMilla Sun 02-Sep-12 21:13:32

I can see you've posted in the DIY section, good idea.

Just ask all of your mates too...even if you only hear about shyte ones to avoid. Good luck x

CharminglyOdd Sun 02-Sep-12 21:15:59

Oh I've posted all over the shop for this thing. We are both so clueless grin I have also persuaded DP that Mumsnet is the Font of All Knowledge so his first response when we got into this was 'ask Mumsnet'.

We have a couple of friends who have bought houses in the last year and I think DP is asking our LLs now as they have also bought another house (to let) recently.

CharminglyOdd Sun 02-Sep-12 21:16:19

And thanks for the good luck wishes!

LittleMilla Sun 02-Sep-12 21:30:45

Ha, my DH has also realised that when in doubt, MN it. Makes like soooo much easier that they support the constant laptop on lap - ha!

Having just bought my place I am now constantly on the DIY bit asking questions about this, that and the other. I love it.


CharminglyOdd Sun 02-Sep-12 22:15:21

Just found out why LL burst into tears. FUCK. They are the people who have put in the accepted low offer that has two weeks left until completion whilst the EA tries to get a higher bidder.

DP is gutted. He loved the house too but he won't outbid them as they are friends. FFS. I am equal parts sad and cross - they knew when they gave us notice that we would be looking for somewhere else and that two of our best friends live in this street so why on earth didn't they think that we would also be interested in that house once we'd had a think? They only gave us notice last week. If it were me I'd have said something, even if it was to warn us off bidding or thinking about it in the first place and to avoid exactly this situation.

It's such a fucking, fucking mess. If it was all mine or even equally our money then I would try to go for it anyway and see what happens but a) it's all DP's money (all his savings - he is older than me) so I can give him my input but I won't try and persuade him and b) I wasn't the one who got cried over by our LL and then had a very awkward conversation with them. I was here in the flat chatting to you lot trying to find solicitors sad

CharminglyOdd Sun 02-Sep-12 22:32:43

And in a stroke of irony they are selling our flat to pay back the family member who is lending them the money to buy the house. They have tenants lined up to move in there and everything. The more I think about it the angrier I'm getting... not that there's anything I can do about it, although this whole situation could have been avoided.

The house is in a street where our close friends live (from long before we all moved here - it's a coincidence we all ended up in the same place), we know the area and like it, we know the house would be eminently rentable and profitable. It would just be perfect. But then the renting aspect is why they want it.

LittleMilla Mon 03-Sep-12 07:43:59

Ahhh charming what a bloody nightmare situation. Were you buying to rent it out or live there?

Perhaps if it's a rental they might be open to splitting it, ESP if you have cash available? That way neither of you lose out.

CharminglyOdd Mon 03-Sep-12 07:56:52

No, they want it for themselves and we needed it to live there as they have given us notice. In the medium term my job would require us to move away so it would then become a rental (it's a perfect investment). DP needs to put his money (in currency in the Eurozone) somewhere a bit safer where he would get some kind of interest (rent - also it's too big for us at the moment so he would rent out a room whilst I was on my contract).

He's on the phone to his Mum now saying he doesn't need her to release the funds (she acts on his behalf in his home country). Part of me had hoped he would bid anyway sad He is doing the honourable thing as they told us that male LL is ill so the rent will be his only source of income for the next year (she works). I am just cross they weren't straight with us in the first place - they said they would rent out their current house, live in our flat, sell our flat and then find somewhere else to live. What they are actually doing is renting their house, buying the other house, living in our flat. Then selling our flat to pay the loan back, not renewing the tenancy on the first house and moving back in there whilst they rent out the house we wanted.

CharminglyOdd Mon 03-Sep-12 08:05:57

Sorry, I mean that they want it for themselves to rent. They have no interest in living there.

CharminglyOdd Mon 03-Sep-12 08:55:30

There is one other house for sale in our street. It's nowhere near as nice, smaller garden and semi-detached. It's also overpriced (one of our good friends who lives here - one of those I mentioned above that we have known for years before we all moved onto this street - was chatting to the EA and he told her that they originally wanted £180k but the EA laughed them down to £159k). DP is going to put in a cheeky bid of £140k as female LL told him last night that the people selling have a job in another city and need to move. I don't think he'll be successful but it doesn't make sense to pay more as it's not as easy to rent as the other place because it's smaller. It's our only other option at the moment and he doesn't want it to get around that he's a cash buyer with over £150k before he makes an offer. The house is also in perfect nick so there's nothing we can do to it.

I am not sure that they are desperate to move and I think female LL would have said anything to get him out of their house last night (male LL was the one who wanted to sort things out and chat - DP left when fLL started crying and male LL followed him after a few minutes to ask him to come back... I actually picked up DP's phone to male LL asking where he was and could he come back for a chat and I could see male LL standing in our street looking for him. I didn't have a clue at the time what was going on but turns out DP had snuck out, gone behind the house we wanted and was standing there having a sneaky pity fag [technically he's given up smoking]). I didn't realise how much DP wanted that house too - he's not an overly emotional sort of person but as we were falling asleep last night he said "I think I could have been really happy there." sad I am so angry still with LLs and I wish DP hadn't gone over there last night because he could have bid in ignorance this morning.

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