Should I Use The Conveyancer Recommended By The Estate Agent?
When buying or selling a property in the UK, engaging a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer is a legal requirement to oversee the legal aspects of the transaction. Many estate agents have lists of conveyancers that they recommend to their clients for convenience. However, there is debate about whether using an agent’s recommended conveyancer is in the client’s best interests. This article will examine the advantages and disadvantages of using a conveyancer suggested by an estate agent for a property transaction in the UK.
The Role of a Conveyancer
A conveyancer’s primary role is to carry out searches and manage the legal paperwork when a property is bought or sold. This includes overseeing contracts, land registration, stamp duty payments and the exchange of money between parties. Good conveyancers will proactively communicate with all sides, minimise delays and ensure the interests of their clients are protected. Professional indemnity insurance covers clients should errors occur. Conveyancers are either solicitors or licensed conveyancers regulated by organisations like the Solicitors Regulation Authority or Council of Licensed Conveyancers. This ensures standards, protects the public and provides recourse if issues emerge.
Why do Estate Agents recommend Conveyancers?
There are several reasons why estate agents recommend particular conveyancing services to their clients:
Mutual Business Interests – There is often a commercial arrangement where the agent receives a referral fee or other benefits for recommending a conveyancer. This motivated recommendation means buyers’ or sellers’ interests may not be the agent’s top priority.
Familiarity – Longstanding relationships exist between agents and conveyancers who regularly work together. Whilst familiarity can help ease transactions, it can also lead to complacency.
Convenience – Having a pool of conveyancers to refer to clients is convenient for the estate agent. However, convenience should not override suitability for their clients’ needs.
Endorsement – Agents imply that recommending firms indicate they endorse their quality and reliability. However, clients should still undertake their checks.
Incentivising Instructions – Agents may pressure clients to instruct their recommended conveyancer in return for securing the property sale. This treads an unethical line.
Narrowing Options – Recommendations steer clients towards preferred conveyancers and narrow down consumer choices. This suits the agent but may not offer the client the best options.
Potential Benefits of Using a Recommended Conveyancer
Whilst estate agents have self-interested motivations for recommending conveyancers, there are still some potential benefits for clients:
Takes Hassle Away – Having a conveyancer suggested simplifies the process of finding and selecting one yourself. Especially helpful for first-time buyers unfamiliar with the process.
Familiarity Between Firms – Existing relationships between the agent and conveyancer can help communicate issues and keep transactions moving.
May Offer Discounts – Recommended conveyancers may offer clients discounts negotiated with the agent, making costs more affordable. However, balance this against quality considerations.
Reassurance of Quality – Agents are unlikely to regularly recommend firms that have caused major issues in the past. However, don’t assume a recommendation translates to the highest quality service.
Convenient One-Stop Shop – Letting the estate agent arrange the conveyancer means less legwork if clients prefer the simplicity of a packaged service. But convenience has a cost.
Risks and Downsides of Using a Recommended Conveyancer
There are also numerous risks and downsides for clients using an agent’s recommended conveyancer that should be carefully considered:
May Not Offer Best Service – Taking recommendations at face value risks not identifying the best conveyancer for a client’s needs and budget. Thorough personal research is advised.
Potential Conflicts of Interest – The commercial relationship between agent and conveyancer may not have the client’s interests at the heart of transactions.
Limiting Fair Competition – There are many conveyancing firms to choose from and compare. Recommendations limit this competition for conveyancing services.
Higher Costs – Recommended conveyancers may have arrangements to bump up their fees. The cheapest options may be overlooked.
Biased Advice – Agents recommending conveyancers have an inherent bias. This does not foster impartial decision-making in the client’s interests.
Pressure to Comply – Clients may feel pressured to go along with the recommended firm, rather than choose independently.
Fewer Choices – Going beyond a shortlist of recommendations can help find the best possible service. There are thousands of conveyancing options.
Conveyancer Vetting Process Unknown – How thoroughly agents vet their recommended firms is unclear. The criteria they use may not match client priorities.
Reduced Conveyancer Loyalty – Loyalty lies with the agent’s interests primarily when clients come via recommendations.
Recourse Difficulties – Issues arising are harder to resolve when conveyancer and agent interests are intertwined at the client’s expense.
Making an Informed Choice
The decision of whether to use an estate agent’s recommended conveyancer requires careful consideration of these pros and cons. Conveyancers play a crucial role in safeguarding the interests of their clients during property transactions. As a legally required service, it’s worth taking time to research options thoroughly yourself. Whilst recommendations offer a convenient starting point, look at alternatives before deciding. Consider comparison websites to compare costs, reviews and service features. Ask friends for referrals and spend time interviewing a few firms before instructing one. This helps ensure you find the best service for your needs, not just one that suits the estate agent. If you prefer to take the recommendation route, ask the agent detailed questions about their conveyancer selection and vetting criteria. Be cautious of any pressure tactics insisting you must use their recommended firm. By making an informed and independent choice, you can find a conveyancer that puts your interests first during the transaction.
There are valid reasons and benefits why estate agents recommend particular conveyancing firms, but also definite risks and downsides for clients to consider.
Recommendations should only be a starting point – take time to research alternatives thoroughly before deciding.
Be wary of agent pressure tactics and potential conflicts of interest – your interests may not be put first.
Ask agents for details about their conveyancer recommendation and vetting process to evaluate suitability.
Comparison websites, referrals and interviewing conveyancers yourself can help find the best service for your needs.
Carefully weigh up the pros and cons of using an agent-recommended conveyancer before making an informed choice.
Estate agent conveyancer recommendations offer benefits of simplicity and familiarity for clients during property transactions. However, relying solely on an agent’s suggestion risks conflicts of interest, higher costs and substandard service. The owner of a property is best served by being an informed consumer – undertake thorough personal research to find the most suitable conveyancer for their needs. Comparison websites, referrals, reviews and interviews help highlight the strongest options. This takes more effort but pays dividends in peace of mind. With an independent, rigorous approach, clients can find a conveyancer that truly prioritises their interests, not just those of the referring agent.