‘Conveyancing’, the legal process by which a property is transferred from one owner to another, has long been associated with traditional bricks and mortar high-street solicitors.
However, before the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently as a result of it, more people are turning to online conveyancing. Yet, there still seems to be a lot of mystery and misunderstanding surrounding it.
Within this article, Enact Conveyancing looks to debunk the myths and explain how online conveyancing is helping support the needs of consumers.
Question 1 – Does Online Conveyancing incur hidden costs?
Myth – just because a quote can seem cheap it doesn’t always mean that it’s too good to be true. The truth is that a lot of online conveyancing firms work towards a fixed cost fee. Other more traditional solicitors may charge by the hour.
A fixed fee includes all the standard changes allowing a firm to generate a reliable quote upfront. However, bear in mind that not all house sales and/or purchases are straightforward and sometimes there can be additional charges that cannot be accounted for or predicted at the beginning of a transaction.
This is completely normal in the conveyancing process and not specific to whether you’ve appointed an online conveyancer or traditional bricks and mortar firm.
For example, a property may not have adequate documentation to authenticate the construction of an extension under building control. In this instance an indemnity policy may be needed (in essence an insurance policy that ensures the purchaser is covered should the extension be found to be built without the appropriate support of building control). The cost of this indemnity policy couldn’t be factored in at the point of instruction as there would be no way of knowing that the need for it would arise from the outset.
It’s for this reason that we always urge purchasers and sellers of properties be open-minded and understand that some things cannot be pre-empted at the point of instruction.
With any quotation, it’s always important to check the terms and conditions and be sure to compare it to other quotes. If there’s a fixed fee, check if the firm list any disbursements within the list of charges.
Another added benefit of choosing an online conveyancer is that often they have a ‘no move, no fee’ policy. This means if, for whatever reason, your property transaction doesn’t go ahead, they won’t charge you a fee. Do bear in mind however that any third-party costs incurred (such as searches) wouldn’t fall under this and therefore wouldn’t be refundable.
Question 2 – Is an Online Conveyancer’s service bad?
Myth – some local law firms will pride themselves on giving better customer service with more of a personal touch.
However nowadays customers are ultimately looking for a streamlined approach with more online touchpoints and quick access to information. Both of which online conveyancers can offer.
It is true that years ago a local solicitor would have been more informed about the area of the property you’re looking to purchase but today most of this information is readily available online regardless of where your conveyancer is located.
Furthermore, online conveyancers frequently provide online case trackers to keep customers up to date with the latest milestones associated with their transactions. This means customers can access important information anywhere and in turn, allows conveyancers to focus on getting the legal work completed, confident that their clients are fully informed about the progress of the transaction to date.
When doing your research, it’s important to consider a firm that has good experience and positive customer reviews. Location isn’t nearly as important as it used to be and online conveyancing solutions may be more streamlined and efficient as a result of a more advanced process and caseload.
Question 3 – Does Online Conveyancing take longer?
Myth – the speed at which a property transaction takes to complete isn’t defined by the type of conveyancer you use. It is often online conveyancers that are pushing forward to streamline the conveyancing process and ultimately to deliver a solution to meet the needs of its customers.
In the last year alone, a number of new technologies have been launched such as biometric identification and e-signatures which, for conveyancers that have adopted these technologies, means their customers can save time by not having to use old fashioned practices which would have added time to their transactions.
An important take-away is whoever you choose to manage your property transaction, it’s worthwhile checking that your legal firm is either a member of the Law Society of England and Wales or a member of the Council for Licenced Conveyancers.