Q&A - Can we use family solicitor for conveyancing instead of lenders panel solicitor?

Q: My fiancé and I come from a village near the Welsh border and are looking to buy a house nearby when we get married next year. Friends who bought a house recently told us that we won’t be able to use our local solicitor for conveyancing as they aren’t on the panel of the big lenders. I’m not happy about this as my family has used the same firm of solicitors for the past forty years. Is there any way round this?

A: All mortgage companies have a preferred panel of solicitors who have shown that they can meet with the requirements and standards of that particular lender. It may be possible for you to appoint a solicitor to act on your behalf who is not on the lender’s panel but you would incur additional costs which could be quite substantial.

Firstly you would be expected to pay the fees of the panel solicitors acting for the lender. Secondly, if your solicitor is not on the lender’s panel he or she may be required by the lender to carry out additional work, the cost of which will ultimately be charged to you.

In the current financial climate every penny counts so it would be prudent not to incur unnecessary expense. This does however pose another dilemma for new home buyers as currently there are a number of conveyancing firms advertising their services on the internet, offering what appear to extremely cheap conveyancing packages. Be wary of these. In a lot of cases there are additional hidden charges which may be disguised under various descriptions. Furthermore, the ‘search package’ often includes an extra fee for commissioning the various searches. So when you do instruct a solicitor make sure that they are completely transparent regarding their fees and ask for a full breakdown of the fees and disbursements to be incurred.