Should I Use My Estate Agent’s Solicitor?
When you accept an offer on your property, it’s likely that your estate agent will suggest a conveyancing service. Maybe they even have one attached to their offices. While it might be tempting (and appear a lot more straightforward) to use the solicitor they recommend, there are a few things to consider before you decide. Compare conveyancing quotes here.
What Is Conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring ownership of a property from you to the buyer. You’ll usually use the same conveyancing solicitor if you’re buying a property at the same time.
Having a reliaable legal representative is key to ensuring the smoothness of your sale. They’ll be managing lots of critical legal aspects of the sale. Our trusted conveyancing service has a team of solicitors who have seen thousands of UK homebuyers safely in their new homes with the minimum of hassle.
Why Would My Estate Agent Recommend A Solicitor?
There are a few reasons why an estate agent might be recommending a particular solicitor to you:
- They know they offer a trusted conveyancing service
- The solicitor they recommend will provide them useful information about your sale that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. In these cases you’ll usually have to waive your ‘right to privacy’ as part of your agreement with the conveyancing firm.
- They get paid a referral fee by the conveyancer (see below)
- A combination of the above
It’s not always easy to tell whether an estate agent is recommending a particular service because they have your best interests in mind or for their own financial gain.
Referral fees are standard practice in the property industry and are used commonly. This is most often known as an ‘introduction fee – a fee that’s paid once you’ve agreed to work with the recommended conveyancer. It can be a percentage of the amount you pay to the legal firm, or a fixed fee.
Some referral fees are ‘pay per lead’ or pay a ‘marketing fee’. It’s therefore incredibly likely that when your estate agent recommends a service, they are getting paid to do so. These are a fixed fee paid in exchange for information on potential clients (or leads). So an estate agent might get paid for passing on your name and contact information to a firm, so that they can be in touch with you directly.
Both types of fee are used commonly in the property industry – within the limits of GDPR and any conflict of interest.
How Will I Know If This Is The Case?
In February 2019, National Trading Standards (NTS) released new guidance on referral fees saying that any referral fees have to be disclosed by agents to both sellers and buyers.
Similarly, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) states that solicitors are required to set out the full details of their fees, and any expenses associated with your transaction, including how much they paid for a referral. The Council of Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has a similar rule for their members too.
So, in theory it should be fairly easy to see which estate agents are getting paid to recommend a particular service.
However, it’s not always that simple. In a Property Ombudsman’s survey, only 80% of agents said they would let the seller and buyer know, whilst 14% said they would not disclose that they would get a referral fee for a recommendation.
If you’d like to know how much a law firm is paying an estate agent for your business (and whether it’ll be added to your conveyancing fees), ask your estate agent outright. You’re well within your rights to know both that a fee has been paid, and how much it is, and they should let you know if you ask. If your agent is reluctant, or refuses to discuss their referral fees, take this as a warning sign.
Whether you are first time buyers or property investors seeking conveyancing quotes, compare conveyancing quotes today for free.
Will An Estate Agent Recommended Conveyancer Offer The Best Fees?
It depends. Some estate agents will refer a conveyancing solicitor simply for the financial reward, while others will recommend a preferred solicitor based on their experience working with them.
Ask your estate agent about fees, which should include a full breakdown of costs. This will show you exactly what you’re paying for, and if there are any hidden extras.
Remember that price does not directly correlate to the performance or expertise of a solicitor. The cheapest solicitors are unlikely to be the best – but that doesn’t mean that the most expensive is automatically going to be the right fit for your sale. Our trusted conveyancing service gives you a transparent conveyancing quote that will include basic fees, disbursements and expenses. Basic fees are the general solicitor’s fees.
Ultimately the choice is yours. You may not be at all bothered by the referral fee or go with the conveyancer the estate agent recommends for pure ease. Or you may see poor reviews, and decide the conveyancer your estate agent wants you to use isn’t the right fit. Either way is fine. Just do your research – when you compare both estate agents and conveyancing firms.
Your estate agent should not pressure you into working with a particular firm, either with pushy selling techniques or withholding things such as offers, or sales progression services – from you.
If you are first time buyers or movers looking for conveyancing quotes, you can compare conveyancing quotes here, for free.