Solicitors have a tough job and often handle very high volumes of cases at any point in time. This can make it really difficult for them to dedicate enough time and energy to you at your inevitable time of need during a sale. It can also lead to a process being used that can cause unnecessary delays.
Sometimes an actual solicitor may not even look at the paperwork until right near the end… There’s a big difference between a solicitor asking a question at week 1 to week 10, especially if it takes 2 or 3 weeks to get the paperwork to answer said question.
Knowing all these things upfront ensures you make, at the very least, an informed decision on who you choose.
Here are a few questions we’d recommend asking that will help you:
How many cases are you currently handling?
A solicitor with 10 will be very different to one with 100.
How fast are you completing sales on average?
This will give you a great indication on when you may expect to move. We’ve had solicitors say upfront that it’s 6 months on a straightforward sale. The client chose another solicitor and the deal was done in 2.
Can they send you through a step by step guide on the order in which they tackle the task at hand and who does what?
Looking at a file last-minute can equal very stressful delays at the 11th hour!
How quickly are you generally able to reply to communication such as calls and emails?
Some solicitors simply won’t answer calls at all. Knowing that if you have a desperate issue you can’t speak to them is something better-known upfront rather than at the time.
How do you deal with keeping agents and the other side up to date?
I think this question is just to get a feel for their views on communication with outside parties more than anything. They may say they will only communicate with you and this generally causes big problems.
If you find a problem in my purchase, will you offer advice and solutions or would you look for the other side (the buyer’s solicitor) to do that?
Eg. an issue with a FENSA certificate? The solicitor’s answer to this will be important in understanding who is going to be proactively resolving problems. If they are less proactive your sale is going to take longer. Possibly a lot longer.