You are here: Case study: house buying in the digital age

When Chloe and her husband Jordan bought their first home in Southampton they opted for an online firm to handle the conveyancing and legal work instead of a High Street solicitor.

The couple purchased a two-bedroom, terraced home in Maybush for £205,000. It took them two years to save money for a mortgage deposit.  

Chloe, 27, an adminstration assistant, said: “We alternated staying at my parents and Jordan’s parents during the week, so we would pack our things several times a week. It was hard not having our own space and living out of bags but worth it in the end. Our parents took a smaller amount of rent from us while we were saving.”

Online Conveyancing
Online Conveyancing

After finding their dream home, the couple chose an online conveyancer on the advice of their mortgage advisor. They paid £1,500 in legal fees.

Chloe and Jordan, 28, who teaches at a further eductation college, found it useful to be able to scan documents and track progress online via the internet rather than posting documents back and forth. Chloe said: “They had a secure website account and app you could log into.”

“Online communication could be done via a chatbox and documents were just uploaded and saved onto our account so we could see what new documents had been uploaded instantly.”

But in the end their case didn’t proceed any faster. The whole process - from having their offer accepted to actually moving into their new home, took 16 weeks. The industry average is between eight and 12 weeks.  Chloe said: “We did experience a delay in concluding the date of completion due to communications issues.”

While Chloe and Jordan hired an online conveyancer, the seller opted for a High Street solicitor. “As all of our stuff was done online it didn’t take long but the people we were purchasing the property from used a firm which did everything by post and so the process took longer. And the solicitors didn’t get in contact with one another once documents had been received.”

A downside of a call-centre approach is it can be more difficult to speak directly to the person handling your case. “We communicated mostly via phone. It wasn’t always easy to get hold of the right person, but it was okay,” said Chloe.

As Jordan teaches law, the couple didn’t find all the legal jargon involved in the exchange of contracts and transfer of property ownership too daunting despite being first-time buyers.  “It was well explained and the use of online communication and storage of documents made it easy to follow,” said Chloe.

Their online conveyancer did the usual searches to find out more about the property they planned to purhase, including local authority, water and environmental. The ancient law requring homowners to pay for the repair of an Anglican parish church confounded them. “We were surprised by the possibility of Chancel repair liability, though it didn’t materialise in our case,” said Chloe.

Any tips for other first-time buyers? “Be patient, phone solicitors weekly to get an update and to get them moving forward. Communicate with the seller’s agent.”

Would she use an online conveyancer again? “Yes, they were quick and efficient as they could do everything online,” said Chloe.