Licensed Conveyancer – Milton Keynes
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Meet your local Licensed Conveyancer Milton Keynes
Marc Lansdell from Evolve Law based in Milton Keynes, introduces the company and talks us through the role of a Licensed Conveyancer.
What does a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor do?
The simplest way of explaining it is that they look after the transfer of a property’s legal title from one person to another. That’s essentially what conveyancing is. But there’s a whole host of other things that we do in the background.
Over the last 16 years the industry has grown. When I first started, we were very much lawyers dealing with the legal parts of the transaction, but that has now ballooned into full case management. We deal with mortgage offers and searches as well as holding clients’ hands throughout the transaction. We can get involved in things like arranging completion dates and even removals and other third party services.
What is the difference between a conveyancer and a solicitor?
The terms you might come across are conveyancing solicitor or a conveyancer or a licenced conveyancer. Lots of solicitors do conveyancing, but they also do Wills and probate, a bit of family law and various other legal services. Conveyancers are property specialists. We only deal with people buying and selling houses and remortgages; we don’t really touch any other area of law. I guess that’s probably the easiest way to explain the difference.
Is it better to use a local solicitor for conveyancing?
It really depends. There are certain areas of the country where there could be an added benefit of having a local solicitor or local conveyancer. Typically, in areas like Cornwall or Wales or parts of the North, local knowledge of the area is important when dealing with the conveyancing transaction. But ultimately, as a firm, we can deal with any client buying in England and Wales.
Scotland has their own legal system, certainly for conveyancing, so we’re not allowed to act for clients buying and selling in Scotland. But with the modern technology that we have and the way that clients prefer to communicate with us these days, mainly by email or through our portal, we’re able to act for anyone buying and selling in England or Wales.
Whilst there are added benefits of using a local lawyer – popping in paperwork, attending meetings more easily – from our side we can absolutely act for anyone, and there are no restrictions on what we can do.
What should I look for in a conveyancer?
It’s a difficult question to answer, because lots of clients have different needs. But firstly, you want someone experienced, particularly if you’re buying a niche type of property, or it has a particular legal issue that you’re aware of.
Look at reviews too. There are a lot of online platforms like Trustpilot, Feefo and various others where you can easily find out whether the firm or even the lawyer you’re looking to deal with is any good.
Thankfully, we’re highly rated, but it’s good to know about the person you’re actually going to deal with. Look at their timescales. Look at the reviews. Do some research on the website, find out whether they’re the type of lawyer you’d like to engage with and then pick up the phone and have a conversation.
Then check that the fees meet your expectations. Doing your research is really important.
At what point do I need a solicitor or a conveyancer when buying a house?
Typically we would see clients, particularly when they’re selling a property, engage with us once they have an offer accepted. But as a firm, we encourage people to come to us at the earliest possible opportunity: when the property goes on the market, or shortly after.
The reason we do that is to identify some of the issues, particularly title issues, and deal with them before the client actually accepts an offer.
And that shortens the conveyancing process. Speed is key when selling a house, and we don’t want to find out about any issues once an offer has been accepted. Then, hopefully, once the client has accepted an offer we can move on with the process as quickly as possible.
That also goes for people who are looking to buy. Instructing a lawyer these days is not that simple because there’s a compliance process. It involves ID checks, which can take a bit of time. And actually, there’s no extra cost to instruct your lawyer early.
What are the stages of conveyancing?
Instruction is the first part of the process – where you explain that you want the lawyer to act for you. Then there’s an anti money laundering process for compliance which is the ID checks if you’re buying, and checking where your money’s coming from. The government makes it our business to make sure that there’s nothing fraudulent going on in terms of the purchase process.
Typically, if you’re selling, we would then issue a contract package out to the buyer’s lawyer. They would raise a set of inquiries and we would deal with those with the client’s help. And then we would move to exchange once the legal process has been sorted.
A purchase is a little bit different. In most cases the transaction is driven by the purchaser’s lawyer. This firm will receive the contract package, raise the inquiries, check the mortgage offer and order the searches. All those things will come together and the purchase lawyer will then send a legal report to the clients for review. Then they deal with any final queries that the client may have.
After that point, they sign the contract payment deposit and then move to exchange. On exchange of contracts, we fix the completion date (the moving date) and then the file is complete.
How long does conveyancing take?
Although most clients seem to want their house purchase to go through in two or three weeks, a typical conveyancing process will take between 12 and 14 weeks.
It’s tricky today, where you can order something from a website and sometimes have it delivered the same day. A lot of clients, particularly First Time Buyers do struggle with how long the process takes.
Plus, each transaction is different. We might have a client approach us to say there’s no chain and they’re a cash buyer, so they want the purchase to go through within four weeks.
We, unfortunately, have to advise the client that this might not be possible. Until we’ve seen the legal title, we don’t know what we’re faced with. We need the information from the seller’s solicitors to understand what we’re working with, and also it’s impossible to know how long the searches will take.
At the moment, some local authorities have delays which affect mortgage offers.
Can you do conveyancing yourself? Is that a good idea?
It’s not a good idea, but yes, if you are selling your property or buying a property in cash, in theory, you can do it yourself. But most buyers and their lawyers wouldn’t accept that position because there are various undertakings, and it’s quite risky from their side to send money to somebody who isn’t represented legally.
I absolutely urge anyone thinking of doing it themselves not to, and to instruct an expert. Yes, it costs money. But when things start to go wrong, wouldn’t you want an expert there to help you?
How much should a conveyancing solicitor cost?
The cost will vary depending on your location and the type of transaction. In London, for example, for a straightforward purchase you might be looking at £1000 to £2000. It may cost more if it’s leasehold, or if you’re getting a gift from a third party. In other areas of the UK, you might be looking at £700+.
It also depends on the sort of firm you instruct. There are high street firms out there who purposely charge very high fees because they have a particular type of clientele that they’d like to attract and keep. Equally, there are high volume conveyancing firms out there where you’ll get fairly cheap fees. Generally, you get what you pay for.
Can I use the same conveyancing solicitor as my seller?
With us you can. The Solicitors Regulation Authority doesn’t allow solicitors to act on both sides. But as we are regulated by the Council for Licenced Conveyancers, we are allowed to act on both sides of the transaction.
We stress that to any client and we absolutely get their authority before we start moving forward with the transaction. The buyer and seller will be represented separately by different lawyers in a completely separate team. If there’s any conflict whatsoever, we will either disinstruct both clients or one of the clients and ask them to use a separate firm. But thankfully, we’ve never had to do that.
It’s great for clients, because we can manage the transaction in the house and speed things up for both sides.
When was Evolve founded?
Some of the lawyers who work for Evolve have been in and around Milton Keynes for a number of years, but the firm itself is fairly new. We will be five years old in March 2022.
We started off with three members of staff and now we’re up to 18 in a relatively short time. In terms of firm size we’re still relatively small, but ever expanding. We’re a modern firm, and the ethos behind the firm is to be proactive, not reactive.
We make sure that we are quicker than our competition. The way we do business in terms of technology and in the way we work with clients is very much geared up towards them. We interact with clients the way they like to interact. Some firms will say, “this is the way we’ve always done things and you need to fit us.” That’s not how we do things – we want to make it easy for clients and we will listen to them.
We are big on feedback – we’ll always take clients’ views on board and look at our systems to see if we can improve. So we’re ideal for any client who is looking for a modern firm that uses technology to best advantage and act proactively for them.
I’ve been a conveyancer now for 16 years, straight from University. I started Evolve because I got fed up with the way I saw the industry locally. I want to change things: to give clients a higher level of service, but also a friendly approach. Clients warm to us quickly and we’ve built a strong business off the back of that.
To understand more about how we can help, pick up the phone, send us an email or use our online chat facility. We’re super friendly and are here to help.
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