Recommended Solicitor: Can I choose my own?
My estate agent has said I should use their recommended solicitor, but can I choose my own?
The short answer is yes you must choose your own solicitor.
There should never be any obligation for you to use the estate agent’s recommended solicitor. You are perfectly entitled to instruct your own legal representative to handle the conveyancing process.
Many estate agents will give you names of two or three local solicitors who are known to them and who they can recommend because of the service they provide. You should then contact and appoint the solicitor of your choice. The solicitor you feel comfortable with to act on your behalf.
It is not unusual for some estate agents, finance lenders and mortgage brokers to make recommendations that are based on their interests and not yours.
There are a number of reasons for this
- They may say they have a good working relationship with the solicitor. You may be told that this helps with understanding how the process is progressing.
- They have a referral arrangement with a solicitor’s firm for which a fee is paid to them. This may be added to your bill.
- Similarly, they may have in-house conveyancing companies and therefore they may have a personal incentive for referring clients to them. Again this may result in additional charges for you as this may include a referral fee.
If a referral fee is being paid then this must be disclosed to you.
We recommend that if you are being advised that the costs are incorporated into a package with your finances, estate agent fees or the property you are buying, then do ask for a full written detailed quote, including any possible extras before you make a commitment.
Some estate agents embark on a persuasive and intense sales pitch to Sellers and Buyers to use their recommended solicitor on the premise that the transaction will run more smoothly and that it is in the client’s best interest that they use this solicitor.
It would be counterproductive for an estate agent to recommend a solicitor who does not provide a good service. However, what they should be saying is it is their recommended solicitor because they receive a referral fee.
You should know if an estate agent is going to receive a referral fee. You should also know that there is only one way that fee is being paid and that is by you.
The estate agent’s recommendation has nothing to do with what is in your best interests; it is predominantly in the estate agent’s interest – the receipt of a referral fee.
The solicitor/client relationship is very special. The solicitor is not providing a product you can buy off the shelf. He or she is providing a personal service and one which will have an overriding effect on how your sale or purchase proceeds and one which may last for many years. You need to be confident that the solicitor you use will have you as his or her client not the estate agent as well.
It is worth noting that you shouldn’t choose a solicitor based on price alone, their experience and service is vitally important and you must feel confident that they are fully able to represent you effectively and efficiently.
Wheelers solicitors do not pay referral fees to Estate Agents (or anyone else). We have taken this decision because we want our clients to know that when we are recommended to them this is because of the quality of our service alone. Not because we have ‘bought’ a recommendation. In the past 3 months 100% of our clients have stated that they would recommend us to their family and friends. More than 80% of our clients come to us because of these recommendations.