How to choose a Conveyancing Solicitor

Choosing a good conveyancer/solicitor when you are buying or selling a property is crucial. It can mean the difference between a very smooth, stress-free transaction and a bad, stressful one.
Given there are so many options available to buyers and sellers, it can be difficult to know how to find a good one.
Many years ago, buyers and sellers would engage a conveyancing solicitor who had been personally recommended to them and would be likely to just engage a firm who may have been representing their family for generations just because they are known to their family.
Even only ten years ago, buyers and sellers were more likely to engage a local boutique conveyancing firm purely because their location was convenient and they had probably noticed some marketing material for that firm in the local community.
Now, there are not only an increased number of law firms to select an experienced conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor from, but legal services are also offered online or even through call centres which could be based outside Queensland or even outside Australia.
With this rapid change in conveyancing services it’s easy to see why people get confused or experience problems trying to find a good and affordable conveyancer. To make matters worse, the decision is often hurried; a Contract is usually signed on a weekend following an open home and the “clock starts ticking” from the date both parties/their conveyancing solicitors  receive a copy of the Contract, so often buyers and sellers are in a rush to find a conveyancer to get the ball rolling promptly.
In order to try and make the process of selecting a good conveyancer/conveyancing solicitor a bit easier, we have made a list of our top 3 tips below:

1. Choose a conveyancing solicitor with offices close enough to you

If your conveyancing transaction is straight forward with no particular issues, it may not matter who your solicitor is. It may be possible to deal with everything by email or by email and phone. However beware, by choosing a remote solicitor, an online conveyancing service, or an inexperienced conveyancing lawyer could put you at serious risk if anything unusual, or unexpected, crops up during the conveyancing transaction. Usually online solicitors are cheaper for a reason.
For example, if settlement is not in the same location as your solicitor and settlement cheques need to be couriered to settlement in sufficient time, having a solicitor too far away can cause delays in settlement and may cost you money in default interest or damages and could even cause the contract to fall over.
If would like piece of mind knowing that your solicitor is accessible should you need anything or have an enquiry, we would recommend that you choose a local Brisbane conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor.
Hopefully you won’t need to actually see them, but at least the option is available to you should you need to meet with them.
It is also important to consider that you want to choose a conveyancing solicitor who is building a sustainable conveyancing business by offering a quality service. Often this is done by building trusted relationships with clients, so that repeat clients refer their family and friends to the business. The ability to build these relationships can only come from actually meeting with your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor, as it is difficult to build these relationships purely form an online platform.

2. Shop around and choose a conveyancing solicitor you trust

As mentioned above, relationships are crucial in conveyancing. You are placing the purchase or sale of (most likely) your most valuable asset in the hands of your conveyancer. It is crucial that you trust them.
Putting a face to a name is nice but a greater level of trust is built from meeting and engaging with your conveyancer.
Deciding whether you’d like to meet your conveyancing solicitor is up to you. Perhaps you are more time poor and don’t necessarily want to meet your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor – as long as the job gets done and your transaction proceeds smoothly. However, if you would like to meet with us, we would welcome you to visit our experienced conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors in our Toowong and Albany Creek office.
We would suggest that you make a few phone calls before you choose your conveyancing solicitor and consider how responsive they are, how available they are by email or phone and how confident you are that you’ll be able to reach them anytime you need to. If your conveyancing solicitor is unable or unwilling to talk to you on the phone, takes too long to respond to your emails or won’t meet with you in person, then we would suggest they are not the conveyancers for you. You don’t want to feel like just another file on their desk.
When you do speak with your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor – how well do they explain the conveyancing process to you? Can you understand the process or are you left more confused by the conversation? Communication is important – you need to know that your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor has the ability to communicate effectively with you, so that should your transaction go pear-shaped, they are able to advise you on the situation and your rights so that you know exactly what is going on and can made informed decisions.

3. Choose an experienced conveyancing solicitor

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor is their level of experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask how many years’ experience your conveyancer has had, where they have practiced and a bit about their background.
Similarly, you need to consider whether you are satisfied with a experienced conveyancer or whether you would like a conveyancing solicitor to look after your matter. A conveyancing solicitor is likely to cost far more, because it is generally not cost-effective for firms to pay solicitors to do the work of a conveyancer. We have both conveyancing solicitors and highly experienced conveyancers in both our Toowong and Albany Creek offices. If you do engage an experienced conveyancer at least enquire as to whether there are conveyancing solicitors on hand in the event your sale or purchase starts to become complex.
The modern alternative of online conveyancing services is generally cheaper because their remote services mean lower overheads to run the business. Another method that online conveyancing companies often use to reduce costs even further is by hiring newly qualified solicitors or lawyers with very little legal experience. In some cases with online conveyancing services, your conveyancing job could be handled by a legal secretary or paralegal with little or no supervision from a qualified and experienced solicitor. If your conveyancing matter becomes complex, are you really comfortable leaving your most significant asset in the hands of someone with little experience in the conveyancing field?
However, despite offering a lower quality service many of these online conveyancing arrangements are no too much less than if you were to engage a qualified, experienced local conveyancing solicitor that is reasonably priced.
It is important to note that online conveyancing services are purely business-based and focused on profit. In stark contrast, our highly experienced conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors enjoy and value building strong client relationships, offering a superior service and getting repeat business. We receive great satisfaction from assisting our repeat clients and their friends and family buy and sell their properties and are rewarded by their good feedback.

4. How busy are they?

So you have called a few firms to try and choose a conveyancer – more than likely you have called “conveyancing specific” firms, ie firms who predominantly or only do conveyancing.
Whilst this means that the person you are dealing with likely has a decent level of experience, you should question how many files your conveyancer is looking after at any one time. If they are a busy practice, could this mean that you just become another file on their desk? Conveyancing only firms often have a “sausage factory” approach and may only pick up your file from the shelf or work on your matter on a day a condition is due or right before settlement to begin preparing for settlement. Speaking as a conveyancing solicitor who has been on the other side of these practices, it can be very frustrating if one of our clients is trying to negotiate a building and pest condition, due diligence condition or seek an extension on finance early but the other solicitors just won’t respond. Why? Because they have so many other clients to look after!
How many files is too many? It is hard to say, given it depends on whether your conveyancer is handling sale files, purchase files or off-the-plan developments. However, alarm bells should be ringing if your conveyancer complains of being “too busy”. This means they could just be too busy for you.

5. Don’t just pick the cheapest

Need a conveyancing solicitor? Talk to us – 07 3870 8244 (Toowong) | 07 3264 7692 (Albany Creek) our experienced conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors offer free pre-contract advice!

Written by

Courtney Lockett is a solicitor admitted in the Law Court of Queensland and the High Court of Australia with years of law practice in Brisbane and Townsville. She has experience in various specialised areas of law such as property law, business and commercial law, family law, criminal law, succession law, and litigation. Click here to learn more about Courtney or follow her on Linkedin

Call us at a location that suits you!

07 3870 8244 (Toowong)
07 3264 7692 (Albany Creek)
07 5449 7500 (Tewantin)