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Buying, selling or simply remortgaging a property all require the services of a conveyancer.

This is because a mortgage is a loan secured against an asset, ie, your property.

Even a remortgage involves the lender taking a charge. In order to do this they need to be sure that the asset over which they have this charge has good title and therefore gives them the security they need to advance the money.

Most landlords employ a local solicitor, often the family lawyer who may have acted for their parents even grand parents. This personal association together with the local proximity is frequently the main reason for the on going relationship, often with scant regard for the commercial realities of getting the cheapest quote or most appropriate service.

I am currently in the process of remortgaging several properties. As part of this I thought I’d explore on-line conveyancing to see what it’s all about.

There are now literally hundreds of solicitors that claim to offer an on-line service. All you have to do is type in the phrase to Google to be bombarded by a raft of companies.

Is there any merit to using them as opposed to your high street solicitor?


A big plus of an on-line service is flexibility. Because many of the companies are dedicated to conveyancing rather than being part of a legal practice they are focused on this aspect of the law. This means that unlike many solicitors’ practices they are also up to date with modern forms of communication including e-mail and text.

My current solicitor doesn’t even have an e-mail address; instead all e-mails have to go to a general company address. This can be a real pain when you need to confirm, obtain or give information. Trying to make telephone contact with a busy solicitor frequently seems to be an impossible task.

Many of the on-line conveyancers offer e-mail updates; some even promise to give you text updates as well. Not only are there these ‘high tech’ means of communication there is also the fact that some of the firms offer Saturday openings as well as extended weekday opening hours.

The other big advantage is that the service doesn’t require face to face meetings. These meetings whilst reassuring to some people; they like putting a face to a voice; they are also time consuming and frequently involve taking time off or making a mad dash from work.


There is one disadvantage with using an online service.

That is some services don’t guarantee to use the same conveyancer all the way through the process.

Therefore, some buyers complain of feeling that they are constantly speaking to a different people, as you would in a call centre. This can be an advantage. This is because these organisations are also used to working in ways that more than one member of staff deals with each case.

This contrasts with traditional outfits which allocate each case to a specific member of staff. If this solicitor is off work then the processing of your case frequently grinds to a halt.

Traditional costs

Most of us are familiar with the concept that purchasing online can often save money, but how true is this when it comes to conveyancers?

I looked at my most recent remortgage using a local solicitor that I have used for the last 15 years. Fees began with a basic £250 in legal charges; then there were the additional costs.

These broke down as follows:

Legal charges £250
Surveys £87.53
VAT £59.07
Local search fee £98
Land registration fee £40
Land registry fee £2
Bankruptcy search £2
Office copy entries £4
TOTAL £542.60

So what started out as a quite reasonable £250 + VAT rapidly becomes nearer £550. The first you know about extra costs being when you get the bill, by which time you have no choice but to pay.

Going online

A quick search online indicates that it is now possible to get the same service considerably cheaper. Expect to pay £300-400 instead of the nearly £550 I had to pay recently.

Remember when getting a quote make sure that it is broken down so that you can see what it includes. As my personal example above illustrates, it’s easy to be given a figure to only find out at a later date that this headline price does not include x,y,z. Watch out for extra charges such as searches, or the telegraphic transfer fee for sending the funds to repay your existing mortgage company.

Why is it cheaper?

There are two main reasons. Firstly, there are the economies of scale of firms dedicated to providing a conveyancing service rather than being part of a broad based legal practice. Secondly, is the willingness of online companies to use insurance policies for registered properties rather than carrying out expensive and unnecessary searches. This shaves literally hundreds of pounds off the cost.

Property Hawk makes life simpler & cheaper

Property Hawk has made life simpler for its’ registered users. We have used our rapidly increasing membership to negotiate a deal with one of the leading on-line conveyancing companies

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