Lockdown #2 update: You can still buy a home, sell your home and move home during the lockdown in England starting on Thursday 5 November (unlike the first lockdown in March). But you must follow Covid safety guidance.
Do I have To Use My Estate Agent’s Recommended Solicitor?
Are your estate agent’s recommended solicitor fees competitive and do they have a good reputation? If so, sure, why not use them?
I think too many ‘experts’ are quick to nudge people away from using the conveyancing solicitor recommended by their estate agent without any real reason.
I understand why, because generally speaking, you won’t be getting a good deal.
However, that’s definitely not the rule of thumb.
Do you have to use the Solicitor/Conveyancer that your estate agent recommends?
Firstly, let’s tackle the question.
Generally speaking, no. You DO NOT have to use the Solicitor/Conveyancer recommended by your estate agent.
However, despite common misconception, that’s not in all cases, so be wary.
From my experience, almost all high-street estate agents will push their recommended solicitor, but it’s optional (even though it may not always feel like it).
A common condition for ‘Pay on completion’ packages offered by online estate agents is that you have to use their conveyancing services. For example, Purplebricks’ “Pay Later” package has the following condition *ahem* tucked away in the small-print:
It is a condition of Pay Later that you agree to instruct the Conveyancing Services [their recommended Conveyancing services] to act on your behalf once a sale is agreed with a purchaser and you hereby agree that you will irrevocably instruct the Conveyancing Services to make payment in full of the Product Service Fee to Purplebricks or any third party entitled to collect payment of the Product Service Fee notified to you on Completion in the event that you have not already made payment in accordance with these terms and conditions.
So in short, you usually DO NOT have to use the solicitor recommended by your estate agent, but there are cases where it’s part of the deal. You should always check!
Common sense prevails when deciding to use your estate agent’s recommended Solicitor/Conveyancer
I’ve already written an in-depth blog post on how to choose a good conveyancing solicitor (which I recommend reading, of course), but here’s a summary of my thoughts on the specific question at hand (whether you should use your estate agent’s recommended solicitor):
Estate agent’s recommendation – first and foremost, if your estate agent’s solicitor seems to be reasonably priced and you feel comfortable using their service, then go for it.
In fact, using an estate agent’s recommend solicitor can often be the most efficient option, because they already have a working relationship, which may result in a smoother transaction.
There’s a weird stigma about using an estate agent’s conveyancer, but I personally think it’s an impractical warning, which shouldn’t be regarded as gospel. Judge each offer on it’s own merit.
- Price – expect your recommended estate agent’s solicitor to be more expensive compared to quotes that you gather yourself, but don’t be surprised if it’s competitive.
Cheap isn’t always the best, but at the same time, don’t feel pressured into paying way above the odds either.
- Pressure – unfortunately it’s common for estate agent’s to pressure their customers into using their preferred conveyancing services, and they’ll even use scare tactics to sway you, such as emphasising how using the wrong conveyancer can result in delays, or even a complete collapse.
To be honest, that is true. But they’re usually not expressing concern that for your best interest, but more so as a tactic to encourage you to use their preferred supplier (who they’ll have glowing reviews about, obviously).
Do not be pressured into using any particular solicitor or conveyancer; it’s always best to take your time, do your due diligence and shop around.
- Reputation – it’s important to use a reliable and reputable conveyancer, so conduct your own due diligence before making an appointment.
- Quotes – ensure to get quotes from several places so you get an idea of how competitive your estate agent’s recommended solicitor really is. Bear in mind, you don’t need to use local conveyancing services, most conveyancing is now carried out from a distance. The odds are, the most competitive quotes won’t be from local suppliers (which is perfectly normal).
I’ve personally never ended up using a local conveyancing service because I’ve found the best deals [for me] to be far away.
- You can use this tool by Reallymoving.com to receive conveyancing quotes from expert SRA or CLC regulated conveyancing solicitors and Licensed Conveyancers.
- Talk to family and friends for recommendations.
- Look on comparison websites like moneysupermarket.com
Why Solicitor/Conveyancer recommended by estate agents are usually expensive
The primary reason they’re generally more expensive is because the estate agent has a “referral agreement” with their preferred solicitor or conveyancer, which means the estate agent gets a kick-back for every client they successfully refer. With the added expensive of paying a commission, the conveyancing fees naturally become more expensive.
Essentially, it’s a big earner for estate agents, and that’s precisely why many of them push the service, often aggressively.
Disclaimer: I'm just a landlord blogger; I'm 100% not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I'm a doofus. Any information I share is my unqualified opinion, and should never be construed as professional legal or financial advice. You should definitely get advice from a qualified professional for any legal or financial matters. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.