Diary of a high street conveyancer: 23rd January 2023

I have been thinking this week about how specialised conveyancing has become and how we need to know so much about such a large area of practice.

It reminded me of a transaction I had some time ago which was in fact like an exam question:

A young couple were buying a property together. We might like to think it was straightforward but these were the details they gave me as we discussed the transaction in our initial conversation:

  • It was a new build property being  a house on a managed estate
  • They were having a mortgage with a high street lender but also a Help to Buy equity loan
  • She was providing more deposit than he was
  • His deposit was coming from his parents
  • She had a Help to Buy ISA
  • He had a LISA

When you break down all of the parts of this transaction, that is a lot of advice you are being asked to provide and assumes a lot of knowledge on the part of the conveyancer, and incredibly detailed advice.

I took all of the details and worked out how much time this transaction would possibly take and provided a fee breakdown to them. It was too expensive; they had received a quote from a neighbouring firm which was considerably less (to the extent that I do not know how the firm could have provided advice on all of those different parts for such a low fee!).

As I could see that it had the potential to be a difficult transaction (we all know how much pressure the site office would put me under to exchange and complete quickly!), I was somewhat relieved not to act but have thought about it since and I think that one of the points to bear in mind is that providing a quote, whether it is using the firm’s fee scales, or on an automated system, is all well and good but does not get into the intricacies and nuances of a transaction.

And how does the client know whether the person who will be acting for them has the requisite knowledge to deal with all of these points and advise on them all?

It’s so important to fully understand the situation before 1) you can be sure you’re capable of completing the transaction and 2) you can accurately quote to ensure you are charging a commensurate fee for what is detailed advice and know that we know enough about all of the constituent parts of a transaction to be able to provide the advice that the clients need.


This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.

One Response

  1. I sympathise and I feel quite sorry for first time buyers who do need help to get onto the property ladder. All of the above takes time and expertise to advise on and that time should be paid for. The obvious problem is, (similar to shared ownership) these people are on a tight budget, buying their first home, will need to kit out the said home and a lot of money is being spent (more so than the average) on getting there with all of these schemes. Where as those middle aged experienced buyers and sellers that have a greater earning power are spending less because they don’t need these schemes. The schemes whilst are provided with good intentions were so very badly thought out. The ultimate cost again is paid for by those that can least afford it. Whilst time should be paid for, there are firms out there that I believe are going to far. One I know of charges fees for obtaining a gifted deposit of up to £300 + VAT!

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