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With local solicitors charging fees of over £1000 plus the various disbursements and fees I am looking at online conveyancers who seem to be able to do the same work for £300 - or even less in some cases - and £700+ will buy a lot of new curtains!


It's more about value for money than penny pinching so the BIG question is - does anyone have any experience of on line conveyancers and are they worth the hypothetical risk?


Buying a home is far too important a decision to risk getting it wrong for the sake of a few hundred pounds and to that end a saving of £700 could become a false economy if the conveyancer is more of an idiot or lazier or both than a local solicitor?


That said I have experienced some pretty shoddy work by so called solicitors in the past so maybe they are all a gamble?


Any views appreciated please. Thanks.

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Some good feedback from this Guardian Article Tracker.




Personally I would always use a GOOD Solicitor that I know and trust.


But there are some truly appalling ones out there so avoid those by having a chat with a local estate agent and a local mortgage broker. I once overheard the guy that does our mortgages say to a client who said he had a solicitor:-


"Well you can use that solicitor if you want but I am telling you now, he will not return my calls or yours and he disappears of the face of the earth as soon as you try to push him. Personally in view of the past grief he has given us we would rather not get involved"


"Who do you recommend then" asked the client


"any of these ......... are good, quick and on top of the administration we require (for mortgage purposes)" was the reply.


So my advice is to get a recommendation. You may not need a mortgage, but a good mortgage broker will still know who is good and who is poor and will not mind telling you.


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I was once charged solicitor's rates for by a firm who employed a licenced conveyencer. The solicitor then asked for a further £150 to settle hisaccount. When I asked for a final statement from my Building Society, he sent me a cheque for £700 instead. ????


Recently, my new solicitor told me that my old solicitor had been "struck off".



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But when you consider the work involved, even that is plenty. Especially if no mortgage is involved. I'm in the same position at th mo' and am using a personal friend who only charged me £240 the the stupid H.I.P. Which is good considering the search fee is £80 odd and the energy survey £40.
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Hi Peter

Good enough, each to his own, but I consider the purchase of a property to be a matter of importance where you should not try to cut corners, there can be many snags that are far better, and far more easilly, sorted out before the completion of the purchase than after it.


Must confess to not knowing what work is involved in conveyancing though

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One of the things completed during conveyencing is a Search of the surrounding area to flag up any future development or any problems.


Anyone who gets a mate to do the paperwork, REALLY should make sure that all the searches are done. If you have a problem down the line. then with using a solicitor at least you have some come back.


What come back do you have with a mate? :-S


The Local Authority search is nearly always required, irrespective of where the property is. However, additional searches are sometimes also advisable so details of some other searches are set out below.


Local Authority Search

This is a search that is almost invariably required on any purchase of a property. It is conducted with the Local Authority responsible for the property. The cost of this search varies all over the Country but is typically in the region of £80 to £140. This search looks into such matters as:-


· Road Proposals

· Adoption of the Highways

· Planning Permissions

· Environmental Health Matters

· Compulsory Purchase Orders

· Tree Preservation Orders

· Enforcement Notices


Even then, the search only enquires about the property you are purchasing. It does not, for instance, enquire as to development in the vicinity of the property, such as adjacent vacant land or your proposed neighbour's plans If you require the search to be extended to enquire as to any such property, this can be done for an additional fee. It is wise to do a bit of your own research before deciding on a purchase. If this throws up any concerns then you can indicate at the outset if you wish any such additional enquiries to be undertaken and the firm can provide you with an estimate of the cost.


Environmental Search

Local Authorities must inspect and identify seriously contaminated sites. When a contaminated site is found, they can require certain persons to take remedial action. Liability falls primarily on those who cause the contamination. However, if that person cannot be found, liability falls on others, often the current owner or occupier of the land. Compliance can be costly, and may result in expenditure which could exceed the value of the property.


An Environmental Search may be necessary to ascertain whether the property you are intending to purchase may potentially be affected by factors such as flooding, subsidence or landslip. The search provides information on these factors together with information regarding air quality, landfill sites, waste sites or contaminated sites near the property. This again is a paper based search and usually costs in the region of £50.


Coal Mining Report

This report is only relevant in known coal mining areas of the Country, that is to say where coal reserves are known to exist or have been mined in the past. The cost of this report is £40 and is again paper based, not involving any physical inspection.


Other similar searches are available, such as tin, china, brine and limestone mining. Please let us know if you believe the property you are intending to purchase falls within an area affected by these types of mining.


Water Company Search

In some cases it is advisable to apply to the relevant water company for information as to whether the property is connected to the mains water supply and whether the sewers and drains are maintained and repaired by the water company or whether the owner of the property would be responsible for such work. This is a paper based search, and the fee for the search varies according to the water company responsible, but it is usually around £50.


Plan Search

This is a report providing current and historical planning information. Plansearch goes beyond the boundaries of the Local Authority Search by providing information on planning applications and land use policies for the property and the surrounding area. The fee for this search is usually around £30 but in some cases a discount of £5 may be available when ordered at the same time as an environmental search. Personally I always recommend people do this as who wants to discover that a block of flats is going up two doors down the day after you move in?


Floodplain & Landfill Map Search

These are two separate searches with the environment agency indicating the position of floodplains or current landfill sites on a map. Please note the result is based on the postcode for the property. Each search costs approximately £10.



It is possible that the land on which the property is built may have a liability to contribute to the cost of repairs to the chancel of a church in the parish. This liability often will not be shown in the title to the property but may be binding on the current owners of the property. As it is linked to the land itself, it can affect old or new properties, urban or rural. The potential liability can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. There are two main types of searches related to this:


1. Chancel Check. This will tell you whether the property is in a parish where this type of liability exists. It will not reveal whether this particular property is affected. The check usually costs around £18. If the check confirms the parish is affected, it is usually possible to obtain indemnity insurance against the risk of a contribution being claimed from you. The premium will be dependent on certain factors including the value and size of the property.


2. Chancel Repair Search. This type of search gives information as to whether this particular property is affected by chancel repair liability. However, once this has been established, there is a duty to register this liability with HM Land Registry and it may be very difficult to obtain insurance against any future claim. The fee is usually around £120.


Telecommunications, Electricity, Railways & Similar Searches

This type of search is applicable where equipment runs near or through the property and is available with telecommunications companies such as BT, NTL and Telewest, regional electricity companies, Transco, Railtrack, London Underground, British Waterways Board and other similar bodies.


The search result will usually include details of any relevant infrastructure and rights or obligations affecting the property. The search fee varies considerably so please contact us if you wish to apply for this type of search.


Commons Search

This search will tell you whether the land is registered as Common Land or Town or Village Green.


This search has been interesting in that we have come accross a couple of cases where right of way/access is accross common ground - or so it was thought to be. Then an owner pops up for the "common land" and demands payment of £'000's to grant right of access accross his land. Without such a right of way your property is unsellable and of much decreased value.


Not something I would wish on anyone. So it seems to me that pennypinching with something so important is rather silly. *-)

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Tracker - 2009-08-24 1:05 PM


It's more about value for money than penny pinching so the BIG question is - does anyone have any experience of on line conveyancers and are they worth the hypothetical risk?


Buying a home is far too important a decision to risk getting it wrong for the sake of a few hundred pounds and to that end a saving of £700 could become a false economy if the conveyancer is more of an idiot or lazier or both than a local solicitor?


Any views appreciated please. Thanks.


In addition to the other responses, a solicitors 'search' also checks any charges on the property e.g. Outstanding mortgages. If this check is not done and there is an outstanding mortgage on it, when you purchase said property you will become liable for that mortgage ! Of course you could sue the solicitor for negligence but by that time you will have probably lost the house.


Another point to ponder about On-Line Conveyancing. In these hard times even Solicitor's firms are being hit and making redundancies. Therefore it is quite feasible that On-Line Conveyancers are qualified solicitor's who have started their own business from home. You can always check there credentials with the Law Society. If you are able to confirm the authenticity then why not give them a go. Could be cheaper because no Office Building to rent or staff to pay ?


Down side is that you will not see your Conveyancer. You will not know until it is too late whether this is a scam (generally when you send funds on exchange of contracts and then nothing ever heard of your conveyancer again !!)


At least if you know your local town you will generally know where Solicitor's Offices are and generally have a good idea of how long they have been there ! Of course this does not guarantee quality of work or value for money but then that is where asking around comes in and personal recommendations.

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