Santander panel cuts make choosing a property solicitor crucial

Published: 30/01/2013

If you’re buying a house and your mortgage is with Santander, your choice of property solicitor, or conveyancer, is now even more essential as the high street lender prepares to axe up to 1000 firms from its conveyancing panel.

Santander, which has a 13 per cent share of the mortgage market, first announced plans to cull its conveyancing panel back in September last year. As a result any new firms had to have the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) certification while existing conveyancers would be required to obtain the CQS accreditation by the end of March 2013.

However latest figures from the Law Society have shown hundreds of property solicitors have yet to apply for the endorsement and, given the robust application process with an average turnaround time of 12 – 15 weeks, could find themselves removed from the panel.

What this could mean for you

Using a solicitor who is not on a lender’s panel can have a considerable effect on your property transaction. Not only can it cause significant delays while the lender instructs a solicitor from their own panel but can also result in you paying two sets of legal fees – your own and the lenders.

This can easily be avoided however by instructing a property solicitor who has the Conveyancing Quality Scheme accreditation from the outset.

The Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), which aims to deter fraud within the conveyancing industry, provides a recognised quality standard for residential conveyancing solicitors and helps customers to find a high calibre conveyancer.

The move by Santander is nothing new; last August HSBC extended its restricted panel to all CQS-approved solicitors. This is simply the latest step in addressing the risks associated with mortgage lending, one that many in the industry expect to soon span to other lenders.

A spokesperson for Santander comments:

“As part of the bank’s effort to manage risks associated with mortgage lending, we are committed to managing our panel of conveyancing providers. CQS provides a means of maintaining choice and high standards for our customers while addressing those risks.”

Goldsmith Williams was first awarded the CQS accreditation in 2011, making us one of mortgage lender’s preferred legal partners.

Content correct at time of publication

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