Despite the Government’s wonderfully naive intentions to break down the walls that cause such divisions in the house buying process, there are no signs of any dragons flying in to save the day. Which is a shame, because as clients when you are asked the question “Have you got a lawyer?” it’s like being thrown into a Game of Thrones-like medieval world of unfamiliar terminology, awkward alliances and a completely unpredictable outcome.
A ‘cheap conveyancer’ google search nowadays will result in a number of price comparison websites, typically sporting an “Expedia circa 2003” look about them. They all promise to deliver quotes from their “hand-picked lawyers … that are cheaper than the one your estate agent recommended”.
If you want to experience a similar level of bombardment to that suffered by Bolton’s infantry in the Battle of the Bastards, try asking for one of these quotes yourself. You’ll want to give them your burner mobile number from your street days because these people make Sansa Stark look like TinkyWinky. From the moment you click “Submit” you will find your email junk folder filling up with complicated lists of quotes from companies you’ve never heard of, based in places you’d never want to visit. Just after you’ve finished understanding the difference between a telegraphic transfer (welcome to the 1890s, people) and an online banking disbursement, your burner phone will start ringing.
You do need to be aware that it doesn’t matter what time of the day or night you ask for a quote, sleep is not a perk of these people’s jobs. Be warned, if you don’t take their call, they’ll start using text messaging, which can be very annoying when you’re trying to finish Series 7 before embarking on the final one. It’s made all the more confusing as all these companies promise the same glorious nirvana:
- No hidden charges
- Dedicated conveyancer
- Clear, regular communications
How on earth are you supposed to tell whether these are true or not – after all, they wouldn’t lie, would they?
To help you avoid making a mistake when it comes to choosing a lawyer, here are some pointers that might be of use:
- When you got a quote, did you actually speak to someone straight away? If they don’t respond to new business, what is the rest of their service like?
- What is their average time to exchange and what is their fall-through rate?
- How many cases are they currently running and how do they manage workload?
- How do they communicate with their clients – old-fashioned risky email or a secure messaging portal?
- Do they still use paper files or is everything electronic?
We know that choosing a lawyer can be difficult, but it is imperative that the right questions are asked, especially when you remember Tyrion’s advice: “The day will come when you think that you are safe and happy and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth.