Legal Q&A:: how can we find a good solicitor when buying a property?


Question: We have just started looking for our first house to buy. In the hope of avoiding delays when we find what we want, we thought we would engage a solicitor now. My Dad says we should “look around” to find one we can have a good relationship with. But how do we go about doing that? It’s not exactly a beauty contest.

Answer: Your father has given you sensible advice. Ask him who his solicitors are, or if he can recommend one to you. Also ask friends and other family members for recommendations. Check out their suggestions by looking at websites and online reviews.

If you need a mortgage, use a law firm that is accredited by the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme as most lenders insist that their panel lawyers are so accredited, and ensure the law firm is a member of your lender’s panel.

Remember that you tend to get what you pay for. Once you have a solicitor in mind ask for a written quote. Consider getting two or three quotes from different law firms for comparison purposes. If a firm provides a very low quote they could be inundated with work and might be unable to provide you with the level of service you want. Note that there have been cases of fraudsters setting up bogus law firms. Look at the Law Society’s “Find a Solicitor” database to check on solicitors in England and Wales, or call the society’s helpline. If you use a bogus law firm, it could disappear with your money.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. Questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a solicitor specialising in residential property

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