Recently, a former client came to see us in Elgin asking us to act for him in selling his house and buying a new one.
Nothing usual about that, you might think.
He explained that he had used a national estate agency to market his house.
They had told him that, rather than using a local solicitor for the legal aspects of the house sale, it would be easier to use “their solicitor” based in the south of Scotland.
But, as things turned out, in his case, it wasn’t easier at all.
Ease of digital communication
Now, these days, communication between you, as the client, and your solicitor can easily be done at a distance.
Email means that offers, acceptances, terms and conditions, and copies of land certificates can pass easily between solicitor and client.
But it doesn’t always work
Having a solicitor whose office is far away from you is not necessarily suitable for everyone.
There are going to be times when a local solicitor is best for you.
And having a long-distance solicitor did not work for our client here.
He found himself left without legal representation with only a week to go before his date of entry.
What went wrong? – Language problems
Well, firstly, our client didn’t understand the 19 pages of the initial letter, with terms and conditions.
No one was able to speak to him and – because English wasn’t his first language – he had difficulty understanding the paralegal who phoned him.
What he really needed was a face-to-face meeting.
What went wrong? – Stress
Secondly, buying and selling is a stressful time for everyone.
Your solicitor needs to speak to you to ensure you are kept fully informed.
This is so, for example, you know
- when you have to sign deeds,
- when you have to speak to your lender and
- when to hand in keys.
Your solicitor should be available to speak to you if you have concerns.
Face-to-face is best
Sometimes emails are good for asking the questions but, more often than not, a quick call back from your solicitor will put you more at ease.
A face-to-face meeting, if possible, is even better in making sure there is no misunderstanding.
The next time your estate agent suggests that you should use – or even have to use – their solicitor, who is miles away, ask yourself this:
In whose interests is it to have a solicitor you have never met, and haven’t chosen, foisted upon you?
It certainly shouldn’t be your first choice to use someone you haven’t met and who is geographically distant from you.
There are clear benefits in “shopping locally” for your solicitor.
How we can help
If you have a question about anything in this article or any aspect of our legal services, feel free to get in touch with us for a chat.
We are happy to discuss with you whether or not, in your particular circumstances, a local solicitor has obvious advantages over one who is further away.
All initial enquiries are free of charge and without obligation.