How to Choose a Property Solicitor

Buying a property is likely to be the most important and expensive single purchase that you make in your lifetime. So it goes without saying, that you want to make sure that you have the best advice and support to make sure the transaction goes smoothly.

One way to minimise the stress is to have a solicitor who you trust, working on your transaction.

As soon as you have had an offer accepted on the property you want to buy, you will need to instruct a solicitor or conveyancer to oversee all the legal aspects. You may already have an idea of which solicitor you will use, but it is a good idea to do some of your own research to find one that you feel most comfortable with.

Here are 10 factors that might help you to decide how to choose a property solicitor for your next house move:


1. Are they Regulated and Legitimate?

This may seem like a strange suggestion, all Solicitors would be legitimate professionals, right? Well, some areas of law do not actually require any regulation. So, it is worth being aware of this, particularly if you are conducting your search online. A firm that is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) will be subjected to regular auditing, screening to ensure that they meet high standards, follow compliance and have insurance in place should anything go wrong with a client’s transaction or money.

To check a firm’s credentials, you can look them up on company’s house or the SRA Register. For conveyancing services, in particular, then an accreditation to look out for is the CQS accreditation.


2. Have you Checked their Reviews?

Nowadays many people will check online reviews before booking a holiday, seeing a show or reserving a table at a restaurant. It is also worth doing this when instructing a professional. This is one way of ‘hearing it from the horses mouth’ and seeing what their clients honestly think about their services. There are any many different platforms where people can leave reviews with Google Reviews being one of the most popular and prevalent.

When looking at reviews, it is worth looking at the dates and frequency of when reviews are left as well as trying to find ones that relate to the type of help you need. If you do spot negative reviews – before panicking or dismissing the firm altogether, try to see when the review was posted, what the Solicitor’s response was and how whether or not they out-number the positive reviews given. It would be very unusual for a firm to never experience an unhappy client from time to time, and a small number of negative reviews can imply more integrity than a business that appears to have only good reviews.


3. Is the Firm Local to You?

With many aspects being dealt with online, over email, post or video calls in recent times, you might think that the location of the Solicitors you instruct is irrelevant. However, it is worth keeping a few things in mind. Using a local firm means that you can more easily visit them with paperwork, have your signatures witnesses, carry out ID checks or have a face-to-face meeting. These can be really important if you are dealing with a legal issue that involves a lot of back and forth. If you do instruct a firm miles away from your hometown, please look up their address online to check that they have a legitimate office where they say they do. Local property lawyers will have a good knowledge of the local housing market and can be aware of certain pitfalls to be aware of with housing estates or developments. Local solicitors are also likely to have good working relationships with estate agents, brokers and local authorities which can help make for a smoother process.


4. Have you got any Recommendations?

Getting a recommendation from a trusted source or someone who has used the firm before can be a green light that you are making the right choice. Friends, family, colleagues or neighbours may be able to point you in the direction of a helpful firm, but also steer you away from any they have encountered issues with too.

You might also seek a recommendation from a professional, such as a mortgage broker, estate agent, financial advisor or your local Citizens Advice Bureau. These can also be useful introductions but be wary of firms who are only making recommendations because they are in a referral partnership with a firm of solicitors. This often happens with estate agents or new home builders, who have their ‘preferred’ Solicitors who are being paid for the referral and have no real relationship with them. It is much better to obtain a recommendation based on their service or reputation.


5. Are They Transparent with Costs?

The SRA introduced the Transparency Rules at the end of 2018 with the aim of helping potential clients to make informed decisions about legal services. The rules enforce all regulated firms to publish information about their prices online. If you are obtaining a number of quotes to compare, make sure that you aren’t comparing apples with oranges! Check that the total includes all disbursements, fees, stamp duty etc. as many firms will try to disguise their quotes as the lowest, followed by a nasty surprise later down the line once you have already started the process.

How to Choose a Property Solicitor. Make sure Lamb Brooks solicitors are at the top of your list.

6. How Was Your Initial Contact?

A lot can be said about how you are treated at the beginning of your contact with a professional firm and first impressions count for a lot. If you are contacting several firms before making a decision, think about how quickly they responded to you, how easy was it to make contact? Whether you were greeted in a friendly manner etc.


7. Will You Have a Personal, Direct Contact?

It is important to know who will be dealing with your matter and that you can contact them directly at any stage of your transaction. When dealing with important legal matters, you are likely to want a specific person who you can call on for advice, rather than feeling like a number in a large company. There is nothing more frustrating than being passed from pillar to post and having to re-explain your situation to multiple people. Some useful questions to ask are: who will be my main point of contact? Do they have an assistant or secretary? What happens if my Solicitor is on holiday or off sick and I need help?


8. Are They on Your Mortgage Lender’s Panel?

Mortgage lenders tend to only deal with certain conveyancers and property solicitors who appear on their panel. If you are using a mortgage to fund your purchase, then it is important to make sure the firm you instruct are on their panel. This is not necessarily a deal-breaker, but it can help you avoid additional arrangement fees with your bank or lender. Large, high-street banks tend to work with almost all conveyancers, but if you mortgage is with a smaller bank or a niche lender, then you should check before instructing to avoid disappointment or wasting time.


9. What are Their Costs?

As with most purchases, cost is likely to be a key factor in your decision. However, it is worth, firstly, checking that the ‘cost’ is transparent and includes everything, and secondly, that you are getting value for money. The cheapest quote is not necessarily always the best option. You wouldn’t want to instruct a firm with terrible online reviews, that is miles away but £100 cheaper than your local law firm which comes with glowing reviews and has been recommended by all your friends and family! It can be tempting, especially when buying for the first time to keep your costs down as much as possible but think about what is most important to you from the service you want and try to make your decision with price in mind, but not as the final deciding factor.


10. What Other Legal Services Do They Provide?

When buying dealing with a property transaction, often you will need additional legal services. For example, you might wish to make a Will, or enter into an agreement with your partner or the person you are buying with. An online firm or solicitor that solely deals with property law, will not be able to assist with the other legal requirements. It can make life easier dealing with all your legal matters under one roof. So, if you are likely to need other legal services now, or later down the line, it might be worth instructing a firm that can be your ’go to’ lawyers.


Get In Touch

If you are looking to instruct a Solicitor for your property sale or purchase and would like to speak to someone about the unique service that our property solicitors at Lamb Brooks can provide, then please get in touch with our Property Law Team today.

Call us on 01256 844888, email or alternatively you can fill in a form on our website or speak to our online chat assistant at any time of day.

We would be happy to have a chat about your sale or purchase and provide you with a detailed estimate of costs.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

Lamb Brooks LLP
Victoria House
39 Winchester Street
RG21 7EQ
01256 471 085
© Lamb Brooks is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority - SRA No 559661. Lamb Brooks LLP (registered at Companies House OC363909) whose registered office address is: Victoria House, 39 Winchester Street, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 7EQ