Purchasing a house may be the first time that you’ve needed legal advice, and often people are confused by the choice offered by conveyancing solicitors and licensed conveyancers.
Although your first option may be to approach a firm of solicitors, licensed conveyancers are a viable alternative, and savvy homebuyers are increasingly taking advantage of the services of online conveyancers.
Both types are property lawyers, but they have different regulatory bodies. Solicitors are registered with the Law Society and are regulated via the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), whilst conveyancers have their own regulatory body – the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
Licensed conveyancers have been a feature of the legal landscape since they were authorised by the 1985 Administration of Justice Act, to meet the growing demand of homebuyers as the UK housing market exploded.
Once you have begun your house search and are at the start of the conveyancing process, you will want to find your legal advisor. Sites such as SAM Conveyancing (https://www.samconveyancing.co.uk/login) allow clients to log in and monitor progress on the progress of their conveyancing.
Both types of adviser will be experienced in property law and the conveyancing process and so making a choice may come down to personal preference.
A licensed conveyancer may be a cheaper option, but this is one of the most important purchases of your life and so it is the quality of service which is important. Furthermore, many firms of solicitors offer a fixed fee rate and even a no sale, no fee guarantee.
If you have a complaint about the way your sale or purchase has been handled, the Law Society, in the case of solicitors, and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, both offer a service to help consumers.
There are a few further differences between the two groups of professionals. Licensed conveyancers occasionally act on both sides of the transaction and this could lead to a conflict of interest. The SRA requires solicitors to disclose any referral fees, whereas licensed conveyancers are not required to do so. Finally, a firm of solicitors will offer other areas of expertise such as family law and probate which may be relevant to your property purchase.
There are some subtle differences between the two, so shop around and find an adviser who suits your needs at a competitive price.