Often it is several months after the purchase or when you come to sell the property , that you become aware of what has not been done or has been missed, often because the solicitor did not have the depth of knowledge in Property Law that is required. Overall using a small, local solicitor is expensive and most times, inefficient. You may believe that a local solicitor is one that you can pop in and see regularly – wrong, you may see the secretary and on the rare occasions that you are able to have a meeting with them… they charge by the hour!
What is needed is a solicitor who is an expert in Property Law, experienced in Property Law, dedicated to Property Law and does not charge the earth! A firm that will always keep you up to date and that gives you access to check the progress of your transaction 24/7. Is this possible? Yes! – Online Conveyancing.
More and more solicitors are offering online conveyancing services. The services they offer include:
· A Fixed Fee guarantee- this means that you will be told the fee at the beginning of the transaction and this fee will not change – there will be no extra legal fees added. This way you know exactly what you need to spend out in legal fees from the beginning.
· A ‘no move- no fee’ service. This means that if the transaction does not proceed to completion (for example the other party pull out) you do not have to pay any legal fees. You may still have to pay for disbursements ( these are fees paid out by the solicitors to third parties on your behalf for example, title deeds and conveyancing services)
· The provision of instant online quotes.
· A case tracking system, whereby their system will email you or text you to let you know every time something happens or work is done on your transaction
· Transparency-Due to online firms using online management tools, you will be able to obtain an accurate picture of how your purchase or sales progressing. You will be able to login and see an accurate audit of the trailer jobs being completed and what actions are still outstanding. The advantage of this is that you can login 24/7 and do not have to wait for the Conveyancer who is dealing with your matter to be available and you do not have to travel to the office to find out exactly what work has or has not been carried out.
· Direct contact with the solicitor by email or telephone.
· A large amount of experience and practice in purely conveyancing matters and Property Law.
· Often cheaper fees than the traditional High Street solicitor –largely because running their business online is less costly to run.
Are there any downsides to using an online Conveyancer?
One of the biggest criticisms of online Conveyancers are that they often take on more work than they are able to cope with and employee large percentage of unqualified staff. Although this is undoubtedly true of some online firms it is also true of many of the existing high street firm, especially as level of the fees that they can charge continue to fall.
Many Local or High street Firms offer a range of areas of law with a smaller workforce, with the fee earners (Solicitors, Ilex practitioners, Licensed Conveyancers) having to practice in several different areas of law and are commonly “a jack of all trades and master of none. By using a firm that specialises in Conveyancing the person dealing with your Conveyancing Transaction is more likely to be an expert in that field.
Another criticism of online Conveyancers is that the service provided is less personal-you do not have the opportunity to have that personal one-on-one meeting with the person dealing with your Conveyancing Transaction. This is not unlike the situation in a high street firm, I have yet to find a high street firm whereby the practitioner will allow their clients to meet with them on a “add-hoc” basis; indeed the client is more likely to have contact with the secretary at a pre-booked appointment with many high street firms charging an additional fee simply for the time taken in meeting with their client.
It is often said that the service level from an online Conveyancer can be erratic. However I have found in my experience in working for both an online conveyancing firms and a high street firm that the same can be said of either. How work is managed in a firm does not relate to whether or not they are online or high Street it is simply a management issue.
Beware though, do not confuse a Conveyancing firm that offers volume online conveyancing services with the ‘Conveyancing Factories’. Conveyancing Factories are largely staffed with unqualified and poorly trained staff with call centres in other countries such as India and South Africa. Although they will often appear cheaper, however you will rarely speak to the same person twice, anyone you do get to speak to will probably have very little legal expertise. The ratio of qualified staff to unqualified is very low. The system used by Conveyancing factories is very rigid and often designed around the most straight forward transaction – anything out of the ordinary will cause the system to come to a halt! Finally some of the largest Conveyancing factories are owned by estate agents and may not totally have your sole interests at heart!
A firm that offers online conveyancing is definitely the best choice. You are far more likely to get qualified and experienced conveyancers, who specialise in Property Law. You will be kept up to date with the progress of your transaction and will be able to check the progress 24/7. The legal fees will be reasonable and in the form of a fixed fee, so you know what you will have to pay from the start, and not have the fear of being charged extra every time you speak to your solicitor. You will be able to contact your solicitor and receive documents by email. As everything can be handled on line, you do not have to make time to see your solicitor.