Having recently returned to our Portishead office, after 11 months based in Worle, whilst my colleague Claire Blackman was on maternity leave, I am reminded as to how the demands on our conveyancing service can vary considerably from one office to another, based on their geographic location. It appears not to matter that our offices are often not that many miles away from each other.
With a broad geographic base in the area, Wards Solicitors offers clients the option of having a local solicitor. For most of our clients this ‘local approach’ means they can call in to see us when they want to, whether to speak to someone or drop in documents. Of course it’s not critical, as we apply the same personal approach to dealing with the many clients who are not local to us but we think it’s what sets us apart from so many other firms that claim to operate in the area.
Apart from this benefit, clients might be otherwise forgiven for thinking that conveyancing, is… well… just conveyancing. Perhaps you’ll be surprised to hear just how much variety we do in fact deal with – not just in individual offices, but across the board. In dealing with this variety, knowledge and experience make all the difference in ensuring a smooth transaction. Regrettably not all estate agents value this and buyers/sellers are referred to firms in return for referral fees paid to them, rather than because they actually combine expert and local knowledge. Unfortunately it is often frustrating, both for us and our clients, when these firms are unable to comprehend the local schemes, and raise unnecessary and endless questions.
Two examples of geographic difference are found in Portishead, contrasted with the Worle and Weston-super-Mare areas.
Whereas Portishead has its traditional housing market from the ‘old town’, it has grown rapidly in recent years, with the development of the harbour and dock areas. Port Marine Management Ltd was formed as a part of this development, to be responsible for the wildlife refuge area and old sea wall. All property sold in this area is legally obliged to contribute to its upkeep and legacy, through an annual payment to this company. Some areas have a further charge payable, for the amenities on their specific sites i.e for open spaces, and private access ways etc as well as many leasehold properties having a traditional service charge towards upkeep. Another development in Portishead with an unusual legal set up is Feddon Village… and then there is the Portishead pipeline…. The list goes on.
It is fair to say that these special, local arrangements keep us locally based conveyancers on our mettle – particularly as they are increasingly challenging to the competency of non-local firms.
Local independent estate agents in Weston and Worle go out of their way on sales of local flats to ensure local conveyancers act for both the buyer and seller. Both areas enjoy a large number of buildings converted into 2 flats only. They recognise that many of the freehold and leasehold conversions have legal issues, with the two-flat conversions posing the most frequent difficulties. The traditional legal set-up for these is termed a ‘criss-cross scheme’, where each flat owner holds the freehold of the other flat- i.e half the freehold. It is a perfectly acceptable method done correctly, but frequently proves incomprehensible to none local conveyancers. And that’s before we consider the challenges presented by the development of the former RAF Locking site…
In the end, it all comes down to knowing the local area and how things work. If you’re looking for a smooth and hassle free move then you may be better considering a firm that really knows your area.
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