Online conveyancing - What you need to know

"Online conveyancing" is a popular choice for home movers in 2022.

Compared with traditional, high street conveyancing, choosing an online conveyancing solicitor can have many benefits.

What do I get with an online conveyancing quote?

Some conveyancing solicitors provide online conveyancing quotes via their website. Typically, these more modern firms also set out to provide a more efficient and transparent service.

An online conveyancing quote should include:

  • Fixed fees - a quote should be a quote, not an open ended estimate.
  • No hidden extras - read the solicitor's T&C’s carefully, there may be a sting in the tail of that ‘too good to be true’ quote
  • No move, no fee (aka ‘no completion no fee’ and ‘no sale no fee’)
  • A breakdown of all legal fees and disbursements
  • Nationwide coverage

Nice to haves:

  • Communication pledge - proactive communication is key to a less-stressful move.
  • Online case tracking - useful, but not a substitute for a solicitor that picks up the phone!

What is online conveyancing?

“Online conveyancing” doesn’t really have a single, technical definition.

In our experience, most home movers are looking for one of three things when they ask about online conveyancing:

  • An online conveyancing quote from a website with a conveyancing calculator
  • A conveyancing solicitor that offers online case tracking, digital document uploads and other online tools
  • An online conveyancing solicitor that you don’t have to visit in person

Online conveyancing quotes

Sometimes, online conveyancing is used to refer to conveyancing firms that offer a way to get an online conveyancing quote.

An online conveyancing quote should include everything that will be needed to carry out standard conveyancing, such as:

  • Legal fees
  • HM Land Registry fee
  • Searches
  • TT fees

If the quote does not include everything, or includes caveats or small print that suggests that the total cost could vary, then it is actually an estimate, not a quote.

When choosing which online conveyancing quote to instruct, always check what is and is not included.

Online case tracking

Many conveyancing solicitors and conveyancers do not offer online case tracking. Some firms offer only basic ‘milestone’ updates.

A small number of firms offer detailed online conveyancing case trackers, including:

  • Regular updates and milestones
  • Document uploading and management
  • Direct communication with your case handler

It may be that online case tracking is a bit of a gimmick. You may not care about being able to upload documents when email works just fine.

Something to be wary of when it comes to case tracking is when online case tracking is used by uncommunicative firms as a substitute for answering the phone.

Solicitors who communicate proactively, answer emails and return phone calls (rather than hiding behind a case tracker) are much more likely to complete your move quickly.

Check conveyancing reviews online before you instruct, to confirm that your chosen solicitor doesn’t hide behind their case tracking app.

Online conveyancing solicitors

The phrase “online conveyancing solicitors” is a little misleading. All solicitors and conveyancers have bricks-and-mortar offices somewhere, even if not local you.

However, many home buyers and sellers can’t easily take time off work or childcare to visit a solicitor’s physical office.

Fortunately, your solicitor's office location will not matter. The conveyancing process is normally completed without you ever needing to visit your solicitor.

Before you instruct, check that your solicitor can carry out your conveyancing by phone, post and email.

How safe is online conveyancing?

Whether you choose an 'online conveyancer’ or a solicitor on your high street, your conveyancing will be carried out by a regulated professional.

There are two regulators of the conveyancing sector; the SRA and the CLC. Regulators ensure that clients, and their money, are protected and that the conveyancing service meets a strict set of criteria.

Online conveyancing is still carried out by solicitors sitting in an office somewhere in the UK. Some high street firms even market themselves as online conveyancers.

In summary, conveyancing is conveyancing, whether marketed as an online service or not.

The quality and speed of the conveyancing service you get has nothing to do with whether the service is “online”.

Is online conveyancing cheaper?

There is a perception that online conveyancing is cheaper. There may be some truth in this.

Conveyancing services recommended by estate agents can seem high. With moving costs on the up, it makes sense to look for a cheaper solicitor online.

So, online conveyancing fees are often much cheaper, but why?

The simple answer is that, if you go with your estate agent's recommended solicitor, your agent is probably earning a referral fee from the solicitor. The agent’s referral fee may even be greater than the conveyancing solicitors fee.

You may think you are buying a premium service for £800, but if £500 is paid to the estate agent, and the solicitor is only getting £300, how good will the service actually be?

Conversely, if you instruct an online conveyancer for £500, the solicitor will receive all of this and should be able to offer a better service.

Approaching a high street firm directly can also lead to much higher costs, as there is a "charge by the hour" culture at some firms. If a firm isn't marketing its conveyancing fees online, the fees are less likely to be competitive.

Get a fixed fee conveyancing quote online

For a great value fixed fee conveyancing quote, call 0800 022 4108 or click here.

Chris Salmon, Director

Author:
Chris Salmon, Director