The Question ….

My estate agent has recommended that I use their solicitor for my purchase, however after shopping around a bit online, their fees seem really high compared to the quotes that I have been receiving, so do I have to use their solicitor? Is there going to be any problems if I choose to use my own solicitor or one that I have found online?
— Dominic from Leicester

The Answer ….

Hi Dominic … Thank you for your question. It’s actually a very popular topic of conversation and one that is not often very clear for first time buyers. In short the answer to your question is NO. You DO NOT have to use the solicitor recommended by your estate agent.

Quite often not just estate agents, but lenders, brokers, advisors and even developers will try to pressure you into using their recommended solicitor. There are reasons behind these recommendations. Some of these reasons include:

  • Progress Updates The key to any successful property transaction is updates, progress and communication. By working with a solicitor or conveyancer they know, they can ensure that they receive timely updates and progress for the property chain.
  • Additional Income – Quite often an agreement is in place for the estate agent to refer work to a particular solicitor or firm of conveyancers. This is know as a “referral agreement” for which the solicitor or conveyancer will pay a referral fee to the referring firm for conveyancing work. Quite often this is hidden and rolled in when calculating your overall conveyancing fees.
  • Corporate Decisions, National Chains and Sales Targets – Quite often larger estate agents, national chains and developers have corporate agreements in place, or have a legal company as part their parent group of companies. Staff are often incentivised  to push conveyancing work and cases to these in-house companies, as well as quite often being heavily targeted to produce additional revenue by selling supplementary services to you.

For these reasons and many more, estate agents, brokers, advisors that are providing your with conveyancing quotes, will tend to be more expensive than if you shop around.

Top Tip …. Remember your solicitor or conveyancer DOES NOT have to be local anymore. It is your decision as to which conveyancer you want to use and instruct. Most conveyancing is now carried our from a distance. Read our other “Ask the Expert” question “Do I have to use a local conveyancing solicitor?

Problems arising from NOT using the recommended Conveyancing Solicitor

Quite often as a scare tactic, people are pressured to use the recommended solicitor to avoid the risk of things falling through or going wrong. Often in a bidding war for a property it might also be thought that if you don’t use the solicitor being recommended, that the estate agent will simply encourage the vendor to go with another buyer that is using the recommended services. This way the estate agent can remain in control of the chain and the processes involved.

Do not be pressured into using any particular solicitor or conveyancer. Take your time, take a step back, shop around, compare quotes online and listen to advice from family and friends.

In Summary …

Do not be pressured into using any solicitor or licensed conveyancer. You have to be happy that you are appointing a solicitor or conveyancer that can act in your best interests and will help you to complete your purchase in a timely manner, but also will charge you a fair price for doing so. As an individual you have the right to select your own conveyancer. It is clearly stipulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) that a client should select an appropriate legal professional to act for them without having pressure exerted upon them.

If you are being pressured, then simply refuse the services, take a step back and then shop around, compare conveyancing quotes online, talk to family and friends, listen to recommendations from others and then make an informed decision on what is right for YOU.


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