Your guide to choosing a conveyancer

Exploring the options available with HSBC

Once you've had an offer accepted on the property you want to buy, your estate agent will ask you for the details of your solicitor or licensed conveyancer.

A solicitor is qualified lawyer who may be able to offer a range of legal services. Solicitors in England and Wales are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, in Scotland by The Law Society of Scotland and in Northern Ireland by The Law Society of Northern Ireland.

A licensed conveyancer is a qualified lawyer in England and Wales who specialises in conveyancing and property law. Licensed conveyancers are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

What does a solicitor or licensed conveyancer do?

The role of the solicitor or licensed conveyancer acting on a purchase is to take care of all the legal aspects of buying your new home. These include:

  • Investigating the legal title to the property, raising enquiries about it of the seller's solicitor or licensed conveyancer and carrying out all necessary searches
  • Checking the buyer has the monies required to buy the property including those required to pay the deposit on exchange of contracts, to meet any Stamp Duty Land Tax payable, to pay Land Registration fees and any other charges and payments relating to the purchase and any mortgage
  • Providing legal advice and recommendations
  • Exchanging contracts with the seller's solicitor or licensed conveyancer and agreeing a purchase completion date
  • Drafting the Transfer deed
  • Collecting and transferring the completion monies to the seller's solicitor or licensed conveyancer
  • Attending to completion of the purchase
  • Arranging payment of any Stamp Duty Land Tax and payment of the Land Registry fees for registration of the transfer and any mortgage

You will be responsible for choosing your own solicitor or licensed conveyancer. There are lots of ways you can do this, but the most popular are by:

  • Choosing a firm recommended by a family member or a friend; or
  • Searching for firms registered in your local post code area

Once you have chosen your solicitor or licensed conveyancer we will check if they meet HSBC criteria and if they do, then your chosen firm can act for you and HSBC.

The basic criteria are:

Mortgage amount No of partners in the firm Regulation
£1 < £350k 1 or more England & Wales:
  • Solicitor Regulation Authority regulated firms must be Conveyancing Quality Scheme accredited
  • All Council Licensed Conveyancers regulated firms can act for HSBC
All Scottish and Northern Ireland regulated firms can act for HSBC
£350k < £2m 2 or more
£2m+ 4 or more

In addition to these basic criteria, the firms are subject to a series of due diligence checks.

You will need to

  • Inform your Mortgage Advisor of your choice of firm to represent you including the name, address with postcode and telephone number of your chosen firm.
  • They will check and let you know if the solicitor or licenced conveyancer meets HSBC criteria.
Your chosen firm does meet HSBC criteria Your chosen firm does not meet HSBC criteria
  • This means your chosen firm can act for both you and HSBC.
  • You will need to agree terms with your chosen firm. They may offer fixed and variable legal fees and other features.
  • HSBC will also appoint your chosen firm to act on their behalf.
  • Their quoted fee will usually include the cost of them acting for HSBC but you should check.
  • All fees agreed with your chosen firm are payable by you direct to the firm.
  • This means your chosen firm can only act for you and not HSBC.
  • You can either select a different solicitor that does meet HSBC criteria or if you want to continue with your original selection, HSBC will appoint another solicitor or licenced conveyancer firm that does meet their criteria to act on their behalf.
  • The legal work on behalf of HSBC will cost you £295 including VAT, which you will have to pay in addition to your own solicitor's or licensed conveyancer's fees for representing you.
  • You will need to personally agree terms with the firm you've chosen to represent you. They may offer fixed or variable legal fees and other features.
  • All fees agreed with your chosen firm are payable by you direct to the firm

Things to ask your conveyancer

Once you've instructed your solicitor or licensed conveyancer, ask them for details about other upfront costs you'll have to pay, such as; searches, Land Registration fees, Stamp Duty and any special reports.

5 top tips when dealing with conveyancers

  1. Get them to explain exactly what they will and won't do on your behalf
  2. Check they'll be available when you need them for the next three months
  3. Ask for a full fee breakdown to check there's no hidden extras
  4. If there's something you don't understand, just ask
  5. Check they're regulated by the relevant legal body

The content of this article is believed to be correct at the time of publication and is provided for general information purposes. When buying or selling a property you should obtain appropriate professional advice and this article is not intended as any substitute for or supplement to that advice and must not be relied upon as such