Are you looking for the cheapest conveyancing quote? Or a reasonably priced quote from a firm with an excellent reputation? Here, our Head of Residential Conveyancing Amanda Sutcliffe explains why not all conveyancing quotes represent the same levels of expertise, qualification or service.
Why are some conveyancing quotes higher than others?
There are several reasons why some quotes that you receive may be higher than others.
- Your solicitor or conveyancer may charge a higher fee because they have a greater level of expertise or experience. Many firms employ case handlers with no legal qualifications whatsoever.
- At extremely busy times, solicitors/conveyancers may charge higher fees to combat demand and keep service levels high. The cheaper the quote, the more clients that firm will need and the less time they will have for each of them.
- Your solicitor/conveyancer may have to factor a referral fee into their fees
Are you paying a referral fee?
There will be a set range of costs included in your conveyancing quote. These should include the fee for your solicitor/conveyancer’s services and any disbursements such as searches and bank transfer fees.
There may also be a referral fee that may or may not be listed on your quote. This relates to where a property developer, estate agent or marketing agency has referred you to contact a certain firm of solicitors/conveyancers. In return for the referral, a fee will be paid to the third party and this will make up part of what you will have to pay your solicitor/conveyancer.
There’s a simple way to find out whether a solicitor’s quote includes a referral fee. Under the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Code of Conduct solicitors are obliged to disclose any referral fee to their clients. Licensed conveyancers however, are not required to disclose referral fees.
How do I choose between using a solicitor or a conveyancer?
Firstly, it’s helpful to discuss the differences between a solicitor and a conveyancer in relation to buying or selling residential property. Anybody dealing with a property transaction can call themselves a conveyancer. Conveyancer is not a qualification and indeed the conveyancer could be anyone from a properly qualified person to someone who has only just left school and has no legal qualifications. A conveyancer is not to be confused with a Licensed Conveyancer who holds a proper qualification. To ensure a proper job you need a Solicitor, a Legal Executive (not a conveyancing executive which again is a meaningless title) or a Licensed Conveyancer.
What level of expertise will your conveyancing fees be paying for?
As with similar professions such as medicine, there is a structure in law firms that outlines seniority and experience. Below, is an outline of what different job titles actually mean.
A partner in a law firm is usually the most senior and experienced solicitor within a department. However, there can be more than one partner in a department and they may have different levels of seniority. For example, there are equity partners who part-own the firm and non-equity partners, who do not have a financial stake in the firm.
According to a 2017 survey by the SRA the most common age group for partners is between 45 and 54 (35%) which indicates that in most cases, it takes years of experience to work your way up to becoming a partner. In terms of conveyancing, if the solicitor dealing with your conveyancing is a partner at a law firm, then you can assume that they are highly experienced.
Solicitors and associate solicitors are qualified solicitors who will work under the supervision and guidance of a senior associate or partner within the relevant department.
Chartered legal executive
Chartered legal executives are qualified lawyers who have undergone Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) training rather than a Legal Practice Course (LPC) or training contract, as a solicitor would. CILEx training usually consists of a Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice (and is the equivalent of an A-level) followed by a Level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law and Practice (the equivalent of an honours degree).
A licensed conveyancer can deal with buying and selling property in the same way as a chartered legal executive or a solicitor. To become a licensed conveyancer you can have obtained any type of degree and then gone on to take the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) qualification.
A conveyancing executive will usually not be qualified as a conveyancer but will assist on property files under the supervision of a conveyancer, chartered legal executive or solicitor.
Paralegals are not qualified but may be studying to become qualified in one of the ways above. They also don’t technically require degrees or to have undergone a LPC, although some firms will only employ paralegals who have these qualifications. Like a conveyancing executive, paralegals can work on property transactions under the supervision of chartered legal executives, conveyancers or solicitors.
How to tell whether your quote is from a solicitor or a conveyancer
Law firms that employ solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) whilst licensed conveyancers and firms that employ only licensed conveyancers are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC).
If it is not immediately obvious whether you are dealing with a firm of solicitors or a firm of conveyancers, you can check with the SRA or CLC to see whether they regulate a firm that you receive a quote from. All firms will be regulated by one or the other.
What to look out for when reviewing your conveyancing quotes
Some firms may quote for a qualified member of staff to carry out your conveyancing, then hand the work on to junior staff who do not have the level of experience and knowledge that you had anticipated you were paying for. This doesn’t mean to say that the job that is carried out will be any different to the work of a qualified member of staff. However if you have approached a partner or a conveyancer with years of experience deliberately, you may be annoyed to find out that they won’t be the primary person working on your file.
At Bray & Bray your property transaction will be handled by a qualified partner, solicitor, chartered legal executive, conveyancer or conveyancing executive who is undertaking further qualifications. While they will receive support from their secretaries, your transaction will remain in the hands of the same qualified member of staff and they will be the one to update you throughout.
Alongside the high level of expertise provided by our conveyancing team, regardless of who you contact, we will always provide reasonably priced quotes.
To find out whether your other conveyancing quotes are quoting for a similar service, take a look at a firm’s feedback online – Google reviews, what’s being said on social media and any client case studies, interviews or testimonials on a firm’s website.
Conveyancing at Bray & Bray
You can read interviews from our conveyancing clients on our client interviews page.
To find out more about the members of our residential conveyancing team, take a look at our conveyancing team page.
If you would like to contact us for a quote, you can speak to a member of our conveyancing team at your nearest Bray & Bray office, using the telephone numbers below:
Leicester call us on 0116 254 8871.
Hinckley call us on 01455 639 900.
Market Harborough call us on 01858 467 181.