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How to choose a solicitor when buying a property

Posted: December 2014

By Jo Eccles

When buying a property in London, you need to be aware of how quickly the market moves and how quickly you’re expected to perform as a buyer. This means that you need to have a solicitor on board who is going to deal with your purchase swiftly. If your solicitor drags their heels, you run a very high chance of the estate agent and seller becoming frustrated and seeking alternative buyers. If they do accept an offer from another buyer, it means you will lose all of the fees you’ve paid towards the purchase so far, so it can be an expensive outcome, not to mention the emotion of losing the property and having to start your search all over again.

While most of our buyers understand this point, we always act for a few clients each year who opt to use a solicitor they’ve worked with before who deals with the purchase ‘in their own time’. Unfortunately, this means us striking a delicate balance between respecting our clients’ wishes but at the same time conveying to them that their solicitor’s slow progress is risking losing them their property.

London solicitors tend to be more expensive but their higher fees are often worth it as they understand the time pressure and, if you’re buying a leasehold property, they’re likely to have much more experience in this field. Using a solicitor on ‘mates rates’ is also a bad idea in my opinion as you automatically sign your right away to be a demanding client and to expect them to prioritise your purchase. We’ve seen many clients go down this route over the years and 9 out of 10 times it ends in disaster, with the purchase either falling through or the relationship being soured when they’ve been fired half way through the transaction.

So if you are buying a property, make sure you use a superb solicitor as they will be worth every penny if they can secure your property quickly and provide sound advice and expertise along the way. The stress of using a slow solicitor and the risks that come with it just aren’t worth the saving you might perceive you’re getting.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email info@sppropertygroup.com or tweet her @joeccles.