Before I get to the matter at hand, I would like to clarify that when I refer to ‘online conveyancing’, I am referring to firms who operate solely online, with no offices so to speak that you would normally associate with your chosen mental image of law firms, whether this be a dusty old office, full of even dustier old men or big lavish offices where solicitors enjoy the high life (I blame the TV series Suits for revealing that well hidden secret).
I will also admit that when I began to write this blog, I had a certain amount of pre-natural bias against firms who operate solely online. Quite often when I pick up a new file and see the other side’s solicitors are ones I know to operate in this manner, I groan with despair inside and expect delays.
However, I do so rather harshly. Whilst there can be negative points to online conveyancing, which I will discuss below, these are not always true for all online conveyancers and even some of the cons that are typically always present, can be outweighed by the pros.
whether buying or selling your home what are the cost implications? Firstly, given that there operations costs are far lower, online conveyancers are able to charge less than traditional firms can feasibly do. Also, online conveyancers are often able to offer a “no move, no fee” policy, which whilst making them sound like one of those dreadful personal injury adverts, the cheaper fees they offer and which only apply once the matter completes is often a boon to those with poor cash-flow.
Many online conveyancers often state that their quotes include the full amount payable with no hidden fees. Whilst this is true for many, this is not always the case and you should be wary and read the small print when it comes to the fees.
There are negatives to online conveyancing. It is often noted by clients, agents and legal professionals alike that the service levels provided by online conveyancers can be erratic. It is rare for online conveyancers to have one person deal with your file throughout and quite often numerous people will work on the same file. This is not always the most efficient way of making progress and delays often occur as a result.
I have also heard from clients that it is often difficult to contact the online conveyancers, as emails are often either overlooked or only dealt with some days or weeks later and it is can be frustrating to try and get hold of them on the phone. I myself have spent agonizing hours calling them, and when I finally to get through to a person, that person if often unable to help me; this is usually because they do not have sufficient knowledge of the matter or the matter may involve some complicated issues.
Online conveyancers are often based in locations where running costs are low, or to put it more bluntly, in the middle of nowhere where even Google Maps struggles to locate them. As such, the ability to visit their offices is virtually non-existent. This lack of a personal touch is often off-putting to many who prefer to get to know their solicitor, build a relationship with them, know that they are not faceless entities who sold their souls for legal knowledge prowess (I sold mine for a lot more than just that!) and to know that if anything was to go wrong, there is someone who you can speak to in person, who can properly explain the issues and provide you with the reassurances you need. Given that selling or buying a property is often described as one of the most stressful experiences of your life, the assurance and comfort that a personal touch brings may very well be worth the slightly increased fees.
In conclusion, if you are certain that your matter is a simple one, where you are not in a rush to complete, then the benefits that are associated with online conveyancing would likely be a good option for you. However, if you need your matter to be dealt with in a timely manner, where there are offices nearby which you can visit with ease, then you may wish to look for a firm which offers the benefits of a traditional firm with an office where you can meet your solicitor, but who have also embraced a more modern approach, where a client’s concerns and satisfaction are the top priority, then online conveyancing is not for you. Whilst this may be a more expensive approach, it may be worth paying the additional costs for the lack of stress, hassle and delays that could occur otherwise.
If you would like expert advice on residential conveyancing matters please contact me Luke Corby-Owen on 020 8899 7335 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.