Lincoln Lawyer: Buying a house is your biggest purchase

Angela Ingall is a Licensed Conveyancer in the residential property department at McKinnells Solicitors in Lincoln

Recently, I was asked to act for an RAF pilot on a house purchase. Before he asked me though, his opening line was that he had read a book on conveyancing and it seemed quite simple, so he asked me to give him a reason why he could not just do all the legal work himself?

I told him I had recently read a book by James May, one chapter of which was about how to fly a jumbo jet. That too seemed quite simple, so on that basis, could I please fly his jet fighter? He smiled and then asked me to deal with the house purchase. True story.

The law relating to property is far from simple, but it’s part of the lawyer’s job to explain complex legal principles and a sometimes hard to fathom process to the client in simple terms so the client feels comfortable with what is going on. Einstein said if an expert cannot explain a difficult concept in simple terms then the expert has not understood the concept.

With most things in life it is what we don’t that gets us into trouble. In recent years there has been a trend by some legal firms for property work to be done by staff with no qualifications and little or no experience. This means the work can be done at a superficially attractive price. If you think about it, though, a house sale or purchase is, for most people, the single most expensive transaction they deal with during their life.

Does a cheaper conveyancing cost come before peace of mind that you actually own the house, that ramblers don’t have a right to walk through your kitchen or that a new road is not going to be built across the front lawn, especially when the cost of using a quality assured lawyer is usually less than £100 more than using a trainee with no experience?

To help consumers be assured of a quality legal service when buying or selling property, the Law Society, which represents all solicitors in England and Wales, introduced a Conveyancing Quality Standard last year. To qualify, firms had to pass a rigorous audit with all staff having to meet high competency standards.

McKinnells was the first firm in Lincoln to achieve this quality mark. If when buying eggs, most people will look for the lion mark as a sign of quality. If you want a quality property service, look for the CQS mark.