The process of moving home is rightly regarded as a frequently stressful experience. It’s full of potential uncertainties and many factors can cause further delays to what is already a drawn out process. Given all this, it should be clear that one of the worst moves you can make as a home mover is to instruct a bad conveyancing solicitor.
The legal sector has not been the fastest to keep up with most up-to-date communication methods but the simple fact is that intelligent use of telephone and email make the conveyancing process far more quick and efficient.
What follows looks at 4 particular ‘red flags’ you should look out for when it comes to selecting your conveyancing solicitor.
1 Avoid any solicitors who still dictate work for secretaries to type!
Happily this is decreasing as a practice, but some solicitors still go through the rigmarole of dictating work they want written up into a hand-held machine and then passing this onto secretaries to type up.
Naturally there are time lags inherent in this: work gets piled up for the secretaries involved (there are many clients to look after) but if the solicitor themselves simply spent 5 minutes sending an email, delays are kept to a minimum.
You can only imagine the stress of somebody waiting to exchange contracts who might have to wait a further 3 days while a legal secretary ploughs through a backlog of work when the information they need could have been sent where it needed to go in an instant.
2 Avoid any solicitors who still use fax machines
It’s getting to the point where members of the younger generation don’t actually know what a fax machine is. However there are still many solicitor firms who use faxing as a form of communication – and they’re bolstered by many mortgage lenders who still champion this outdated equipment.
Scanning and emailing is a much more efficient practice; using faxes is another red flag!
3 Avoid solicitors who don’t return your calls
When you’re considering which firm of solicitors to use, it’s worth putting in at least one actual call to the office. Although it’s understood that solicitors are busy people who generally charge for their time by the hour, this shouldn’t stop either them or their assistants logging calls from clients and scheduling in a definite time frame for responding to them.
You should regard as a red flag any situation where you are told you will be called back but this doesn’t happen. The simple fact is a good solicitor should be a good time manager and even if you are just one client among many, you deserve your individual portion of their attention!
Additionally this behaviour is simply asking for trouble. When you don’t get a response to your query, it’s likely you might then call other parties such as the estate agent and your mortgage broker to find out what’s occurring. These will then end up calling your solicitor themselves for information resulting in an ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ situation for your solicitor – and they didn’t carry out the stitch in time.
4 Avoid solicitors who are constantly ‘in a meeting’
It’s not unreasonable for any professional person to have to spend some of their working day in meetings. However it’s just not good enough if you can never actually get an update from them.
Your solicitor may genuinely be trying to work on your file and not want any disturbance, but given that you are the client and therefore need updating, they should always balance their work with good communication. Ultimately you are the paying customer and your solicitor should work to avoid leaving you ‘in the dark’ as this simply causes stress.
In sum, it’s worthwhile finding out that your solicitor embraces modern technology as much as possible if you want an efficient conveyancing process. And the rest is really down to good communication: your solicitor should brief you so you know what’s going on throughout your conveyancing process.
By Marcus Simpson