Don't be seduced with a solicitor with low fees particularly solicitors who work online. You need to be able to speak to someone if any problem arises. Once you have chosen and told your solicitor what you want them to do for you (referred to as “giving your instructions”), the solicitor should send you a Terms of Engagement letter. Your solicitor may ask you to sign a copy of the letter and return it to them. However, whether you sign the letter or not, the terms of the letter will apply unless you agree otherwise.
The Terms of Engagement letter will set out the work the solicitor has agreed to do for you and should give you an outline of the likely fees for doing this. The letter should also outline any additional costs which you may be responsible for. These might include charges for property searches, bank transfers, registration dues, or fees for sales or purchases that fall through. Sometimes these additional costs can be more than the solicitor’s fee.
So, don’t be afraid to ask questions about costs and make sure that you fully understand what you may be asked to pay for. This applies to both the solicitor’s fees for their time and any other costs you may have to meet. It’s fine to discuss costs with solicitors – they would rather you were clear about what you will have to pay. Try to be clear in your own mind how much the whole piece of work could be and check with your solicitor that your expectations are right.
Because transactions are unpredictable, the costs estimated at the beginning of the transaction can change. For example, the transaction may take longer or end up being more complicated than was first thought. It is important to make sure that if costs do increase, your solicitor lets you know immediately.
Some solicitors offer ‘fixed fee’ arrangements. The ‘fixed fee’ may not include certain costs (for searches, for example) so if you are considering this option, make sure you know what work this does, and more importantly, does not include. Fixed Fee often means fixed if no complications arise.