Choosing the right lawyer when buying a house

When buying a house, you have to consider many aspects. Of course, for a start, the house has to be right. Online pictures are good for shortlisting, but this needs to be followed up with visits to the site. The location has to be right. The neighbourhood has to be right – there needs to be conveniences at hand, as well as access to medical facilities and good schools. There is a lot that goes into choosing a house.For a smooth and painless transaction, you also need a good solicitor or conveyancer.

Jennifer Atiku, social activist and supporter of HIV and cancer charities, believes that your choice of solicitor or conveyancer can make or break your experience when buying a house. You can read about her experience in law, and see Jennifer Douglas Abubakar called to bar here. What’s the difference between the two, and which one should you choose?


lawyer when buying a house

A solicitor is a qualified lawyer, with extensive training in different aspects of the law, whereas a conveyancer has less training but is better versed with property matters. Solicitors are always more expensive than conveyancers. Many large solicitor practices also employ a team of conveyancers. If the property sale is simple and has few issues, a conveyancer would be a more cost-effective solution. If, however, the property sale is complicated and vexed with issues, a solicitor would be a better option.

Dealing with solicitors and conveyancers can be a frustrating experience for some home buyers. The process involves a lot of paperwork, and your lawyer must be organised and well versed with the legalities, or else the pace of closure can be affected. Serious lapses can even cause the deal to fall through.

It is equally important that the buyer and seller coordinate in an organised and cohesive manner with the lawyers. Another common bone of contention between the lawyer and home buyer is the issue of hidden charges. Make sure you have knowledge of all charges upfront to prevent surprises down the line.

Traditionally, home buyers have chosen their lawyer based on referrals from the estate agent, family or friends. A relatively new option is online conveyancing. For a transaction with limited complexity, using an online conveyancer is a cost-efficient solution. Online services operate out of business parks and are backed up by a call centre, which is basically a warehouse full of conveyancers.

The problem here is that the conveyancer could be at the other end of the country. Site visits or face-to-face meetings are not possible. However, they are usually more efficient and offer better value. With some companies, though, you can end up talking to different people every time, which can be frustrating.

Last but not least, whichever option you choose, make sure you do a price comparison. Both solicitors and conveyancers will quote customised rates for your sale. The question to ask here is, “Can you give me an all-in figure?” This will allow you to compare apples with apples. Choosing the right lawyer when buying a house is of the utmost importance.