Choosing a solicitor

Q: I am buying a property and have been recommended two solicitors. Cost is a factor, but is there anything else I should consider?

A: When buying a property, it’s vital that you use a good solicitor for a number of reasons. Firstly, a property purchase is a huge investment so you want to make sure that you’ve employed a good, experienced solicitor who will do thorough due diligence on the property and pick up on any problems there are.

When buying property for clients, time and time again our solicitor has picked up on gaps in the paperwork. The sellers are always frustrated as they have to rectify these issues at their own cost – issues which their solicitor should have picked up when they first bought the property.

Secondly, a good solicitor can be fundamental in driving a purchase forward – and holding it together.

I see a big difference between solicitors. Some are quick off the mark and have title documents downloaded, and searches submitted, within hours of a purchase being agreed. Others, however, refuse to proactively obtain documents and insist on waiting for the seller’s solicitor to hand them everything on a plate. This can result in days, even weeks, passing with very little progress – and the more time that passes, the more risk a buyer runs of being gazumped, or the seller getting fed up with the slow pace and putting the property back on the market.

To get a great service, you definitely don’t need to pay top price but I would never advise opting for a cheap solicitor either. A personal recommendation is always best, ideally from someone who knows the buying process well enough to distinguish a good solicitor from a bad one. Finally, if you’re buying a property in London, you don’t necessarily need to use a London-based solicitor but it can help as they will usually be experienced in leasehold matters and so on. I’ve had the occasional client who’s buying quite a complex London property and their out of town solicitor has really struggled.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email or tweet her @joeccles.