You pays your money, you takes your choice (or why use a local solicitor?)
We have all seen the adverts on the television for online estate agents who are apparently “real” estate agents even though they don’t have an office on the high street, and we are all concerned about overpaying for a service. This is particularly true when buying or selling a property. It is a very expensive time. There are lots of costs to be mindful of, not just the legal fees but moving costs, new furniture, and it all adds up rather rapidly.
However, sometimes going for the cheapest deal is not always the best option, and sometimes what looks like a good deal, is in fact more expensive not only in monetary terms but in time and inconvenience.
There are a number of conveyancing firms that will provide a low cost estimate, but you will never meet the person dealing with your transaction as it all done by post or online.
Now I am not saying that technology isn’t a good thing, but sometimes there is nothing like the personal touch and that is what your local solicitor provides.
This was brought home to me particularly by a gentleman who came into the office this week who was concerned about his sale. There was a problem with part of the garden at the front of his house. It had been compulsorily purchased by the Council in the 1960s to widen the road, but the road widening never took place. The Council still owned part of the front garden and this was causing a problem which no one seemed able to sort out. The gentleman’s conveyancers were remote and his estate agent was online. I could not do anything as another firm was already instructed, but at least I could sit down with him to go through the title deeds that he had, explaining who owned what and, in theory at least, what needed to be done by whom to put it right.
Using local estate agents and a local solicitor may have prevented the delay and consequently the stress that had been caused. As local solicitors, we know exactly where this property is. If a local estate agent had been used, they too would have been aware of the location and the history of the area. Contrary to popular belief, estate agents and solicitors do in fact often get on, and we work together to sort out problems and progress transactions. We also have local contacts, people in the Council for example, that we have worked with over many years whom we can call to discuss matters, perhaps more easily than a remote conveyancer miles away.
We also tend to know other local solicitors quite well having been on the other side of transactions numerous time over the years. It is not uncommon for us to pop out for a friendly coffee with someone from the “rival” firm over the road. This means that when there is a problem, we are more likely to call each other to discuss how we overcome an issue, rather than sending letters and emails.
It is also very important that if you are not happy, if there is something that you do not understand or is worrying you, you can come in to see your local solicitor face to face. We can look at documents together, discuss solutions, and we can make sure that you understand what is happening. It is easy to fob someone off over the phone or by email. Not so when they are sat in front of you.
And as the solicitor sat in front of you, I can see from your body language whether you really understand, whether I have explained things properly and whether you are happy or not. That’s customer service.
So when you are thinking of instructing an online company, don’t look at price alone. A local solicitor may not in fact cost as much as you think, and the “savings” of an online conveyancer may not be as great as you’d hoped, but a local solicitor, with their local knowledge and local contacts is just up the road for you to pop in to see when you need to.