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Q&A on Conveyancing quotes, comparing online to traditional Solicitors

March 2012

Solicitor Nick Elliot answers questions on Family law.solicitor nick elliot

Q. I have been told by my mortgage broker that I must find a solicitor who is on my chosen lender’s panel – what does this mean?

A. Each mortgage lender has a panel of solicitors which they are happy to act on their behalf in connection with a mortgage during the conveyancing process.  Being a member of a panel shows that the solicitor has met certain requirements of the lender in regard to acting on their behalf and therefore generally can be seen as a mark of quality.  It is possible for you to instruct a solicitor who is not on the panel of your chosen lender but you should be aware that it will not only be necessary for you to pay the fees of the solicitor acting on your behalf but your mortgage lender will also expect you to pay the fees of their chosen solicitor who they will nominate in the event that your solicitor is unable to act on their behalf due to the lack of panel membership.  This is the case with the vast majority of HSBC mortgages now that they have reduced their panel membership to 43 Firms!  It is possible for you to still choose your own solicitor but HSBC’s own solicitors will require payment of their fees in the region of £200.00 and indeed your own solicitor may require additional payment for the work undertaken with HSBC’s panel solicitor.  There are serious objections to this course of action by HSBC – bearing in mind they are the only lender to adopt such an approach and indeed there is talk of a challenge being made against the legality of such a small panel.  We as a firm are advising clients of these issues as clearly in the current economic climate people are working to a tight budget when purchasing a property and these additional costs can be most unwelcome.

 

Q. I received a quote from a solicitor for a conveyancing transaction as I saw an advert on the internet and in the paper for their firm which reflected a very low fixed price.  However, once I received the quote there appeared to be a lot of additional extras which were also payable and I was also limited with the number of phone calls and letters which would be undertaken on my behalf unless further payments were made.  Is it necessary for a solicitor to provide me with a full written quotation before I instruct them?

A. When instructing a solicitor to act on your behalf it is imperative that you obtain a full quotation from them detailing exactly what the costs of the instruction will amount to along with any disbursements to be incurred during the transaction so that you can budget accordingly.  A solicitor who deals in property on a regular basis should be able to provide you with a very accurate quotation and it is quite unusual for such quotation not to be an accurate reflection of the invoice you will receive at the end of the transaction unless something very unusual happens during the course of the same.  Indeed a solicitor would be expected to advise you of any additional costs before they proceeded to incur these.  There are a large number of legal service providers who will attempt to disguise their own fees through several different methods including “leasehold fees”, “fees for acting for your mortgage lender” and making a charge for completing a Stamp Duty Land Tax Return form.  Furthermore certain firms will attempt to sell a “search package” which will not only include the cost of the various searches but also their fees for commissioning the same.  When obtaining a quotation it is imperative that the Solicitor is totally transparent with you and provides you with a full breakdown of the fees and disbursements to be incurred and also puts this in writing with no small print or provision for additional charges unless the matter does not proceed in the usual way.  We are able to provide such a quotation should you require by either telephone or email. Please contact us.

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