Should I Use My Estate Agent’s Solicitor?

Should I Use My Estate Agents Solicitor
Disclosure: Clicking on links on this page may earn us a small commission. This helps us continue to produce free content and doesn't affect the price you pay.
Choosing a solicitor is an important part of the selling process. And you might wonder if you should use your estate agent’s solicitor.

Often, when you engage an estate agent to sell your home, they will recommend a solicitor with whom they work. Whether you go with their recommendation or not, is a decision you will have to take.

We have used our estate agent’s solicitor on previous property sales, and we have used solicitors we’ve found ourselves more recently. This article is based on our experiences of both scenarios.

Spoiler alert: the answer to our question “should I use my estate agent’s solicitor?” isn’t yes or no. It will depend on your individual circumstances and personal preference.

Pros and cons of using your estate agent’s solicitor

Referral agreements are normal so don't be surprised when your estate agent recommends you a solicitor.

Like with everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to choosing to use the solicitor recommended by your estate agent.

By considering both sides of the coin, you will be able to make the right decision for your circumstances.

Advantages of using your estate agent’s solicitor

Let’s start with the reasons in favour. First, there is a lot to be said for using a solicitor that has a relationship with your estate agent. It’s in the estate agent’s interest to sell your home.

So using their recommended solicitor can be convenient and quick because their existing relationship could potentially speed up the conveyancing process and reduce the risk of delays or misunderstandings.

In theory, a solicitor recommended by your estate agent should deliver a good service, otherwise it will reflect badly on the estate agent. However, this isn’t always the case.

But if you do encounter issues, such as the solicitor being unresponsive, the relationship your estate agent has with them can come in handy. After all, they don’t want to risk the sale falling through, because this could make them miss out on their commission.

The agent will have more leverage, because they can threaten to stop recommending them, which would mean the solicitor might lose future business.

Some estate agents might offer you a better price, if you agree to use their recommended solicitor firm. However, before you jump at this offer, ask for a quote from the recommended solicitor and compare it with others.

It could be that the savings you make from your estate agent’s offer are lost because the solicitor is charging you more.

As you can see there are some advantages, but now let’s look at the drawbacks.

Selling A Property? FREE Step-By-Step Platform

  • Bite-sized steps for buying and/or selling a property in the UK
  • Easy-to-follow explanations every step of the way
  • Clear actions to follow to progress your property transaction
  • Trackable progress so you know what to do next
  • Detailed informative articles related to every step you follow
Property Road Platform

Disadvantages of using your estate agent’s solicitor

There are actually quite a few drawbacks that you should consider before making a decision. Often the recommended solicitor is more expensive than others and there is a reason for this.

The estate agent might get a referral fee if you go with their recommended solicitor. To mitigate the loss of money, the solicitor firm will charge you a higher fee. So it’s vital that you get quotes from several solicitors to compare their level of service and price.

Using the estate agent’s recommended solicitor could also create a conflict of interest. There are two scenarios where this could happen. First, if the estate agent and the solicitor firm are part of the same organisation.

In that case, the estate agent will have control over the conveyancing process, which could work against you. The other scenario is when you go for the package that offers you a lower price but commits you to using the recommended solicitor.

In those circumstances, you will often be asked to waive your right of privacy, so that the solicitor can keep the estate agent informed about everything. While this might not always cause an issue, there are concerns that it could.

Le’t say that the sellers of your onward purchase lost the house they wanted to buy. You might want to give them some time to find a new home, especially if you love their house. In normal circumstances, you would ask your solicitor to delay proceedings without telling anyone why.

If you have waived your rights to privacy, the solicitor might tell the estate agent. They in turn might put pressure on you to move into rented, so the sale can go ahead quickly. That’s not a situation you want to be in.

You want a solicitor that is independent and loyal to you, but if you choose your estate agent’s recommendation, you might not get that.

Often, but not always, the quality of service you get from your estate agent’s solicitor is lower. Because they pay a referral fee, they have to make up the money. They might do that by hiring newly qualified solicitors that lack the experience to deal with complex situations but are cheaper.

Or they take on more clients, which means the solicitors don’t have enough time for each of their cases. This can result in a slower and lower quality service.

While we have never had a problem using a solicitor recommended by an agent, one of our buyers had. His solicitor was very slow to respond, and sometimes just ignored questions from our solicitor.

It meant that we had to put a lot of pressure on our buyer to get the sale over the line, which was very stressful for everyone involved.

So, it goes to highlight the importance of making a decision of your own as to whether a solicitor is worth using, rather than just accepting your estate agent’s recommendation.

You might have noticed that the drawbacks are more numerous than the benefits. So should you ever go with the solicitor recommended by your estate agent?

When your estate agent’s solicitor might be a good choice

In some cases using your estate agent's solicitor might be a good choice.

Taking into account the pros and cons we have discussed above, let’s look at when it might not be an issue to choose your estate agent’s solicitor.

If the following criteria are met, choosing your estate agent’s solicitor could be beneficial:

  • You aren’t obliged to use their solicitor as part of an offer or special package – thereby avoiding a conflict of interest
  • The solicitor firm is independent from the estate agent – again avoiding a possible conflict of interest
  • The sale is uncomplicated and straight forward
  • The solicitor’s fees aren’t exceptionally high – they don’t have to be the cheapest though
  • The level of service included meets your needs
  • The solicitor firm will deliver a good quality service – check if they are accredited by the Conveyancing Quality Scheme and if their reviews are positive

Ultimately, you should go with a solicitor that you trust and feel comfortable with. And if the above criteria are met, this might be the one your estate agent recommends.

When you should refrain from going with your estate agent’s solicitor

So while there are cases when it’s OK to go with your estate agent’s recommendation, in many cases, it might be better to find a solicitor yourself. Here are the circumstances when this is the case:

  • The package or offer obliges you to use their recommended solicitor – could lead to conflict of interest
  • The solicitor is part of the same firm as the estate agent – again possible conflict of interest
  • Your sale is complex – such as a leasehold, a listed building, house has been extensively altered, etc.
  • The solicitor fees are very high – you might overpay
  • The level of service included isn’t what you need
  • Reviews and testimonials suggest the solicitor won’t provide good quality service
  • You don’t like or trust them and don’t feel comfortable hiring them

It’s important to choose the right solicitor for your circumstances. Especially, if your sale isn’t straight forward, it’s worth getting a legal professional that has the knowledge and experience needed to ensure the sale is successful.

Don’t get pressured into using their solicitor

If your solicitor is making you nervous and he was recommended, make sure you put that weight on the estate agent.

Whether your estate agent recommends a solicitor or not, you are under no obligation to use them. You have the right to choose your own solicitor, and given how crucial they are to the conveyancing process, you should choose the one that is the best fit for you.

The estate agent might offer an incentive, such as a lower price or a special package, but you aren’t obliged to accept, even if they are pushy about it. Well, actually, especially if they try to put pressure on you.

Such special offers and packages are more common with online agents where some offer ‘buy now, pay later’ options that are tied to using their recommended solicitors.

These options have never appealed to us, personally. While we have had good experiences with solicitors recommended by our estate agents, we don’t feel anyone should be forced into using them.

It’s important that you make an informed decision. Listening to family and friends to see whether they have any recommendations before accepting a recommended firm of conveyancers can be beneficial.

For us, using a solicitor that has been recommended is always preferable. However, the recommendation should come from someone who has used their services. As such, a recommendation from the estate agent doesn’t count.

They don’t recommend the solicitor firm because they are great, but because they get paid for referring you. As a result, you might end up with a solicitor that isn’t very good.

If you need help, our guide about how to choose a solicitor will tell you all you need to know to make that decision confidently.

Enjoying this article? - Buying

Enjoying This Article?

Get more advice about buying property in your inbox

Get articles like this as downloadable PDFs when you join our email newsletter with regular updates and tips.

You can unsubscribe at any time. See our Privacy Policy.

What about when you buy a house?

Should I use my estate agent's solicitor - There might be some advantages on using a local solicitor, but by no means are you obliged to do so.

So far, we have only talked about whether to choose your estate agent’s solicitor when you’re selling. That’s because estate agents are more likely to try and get you as the seller to use their solicitor.

But that doesn’t mean that they won’t also offer it to the buyer who makes the offer that has been accepted. While there isn’t a special price or package they can offer you as an incentive when you buy the house, it doesn’t mean you should necessarily go with their recommendation.

The same criteria as for the seller will apply, bar the first ones of course.

When I bought my first house, I used the solicitor the seller’s estate agent recommended. They were reasonably priced and had good reviews.

The purchase was also a simple one, with no chain. I was a first-time buyer and the sellers had already moved out, so it was a simple transaction. I was very happy with the service I got and don’t regret going with the estate agent’s recommendation.

As a newbie to buying a property, I found it convenient and simple, as it meant I didn’t have to worry about finding a solicitor myself.

However, for further transactions, I decided to look for my own solicitor, as we were buying and selling, which made things more complicated.

So should I use my estate agent’s solicitor?

As we have seen, it’s not as simple as yes or no. Choosing your solicitor to handle the conveyancing process or your sale or purchase is an important one and should be considered carefully.

While there are pros and cons to using the one your estate agent recommends, in many cases it’s better to go with an independent solicitor. You want a legal professional that will act in your interest and nobody else’s

That said, recommendations are still useful, but they should be from someone who has used their services. We found asking friends and family who have recently bought or sold a home is a good starting point. Reviews are also a good way to gauge if a solicitor is worth hiring.

By following our tips in this guide, you will be able to answer the question of should I use my estate agent’s solicitor for yourself.

If, after reading this you’ve decided against using your estate agent’s solicitor, you can use our handy tool to find the compare conveyancing solicitors in your area.

Authors

  • Steve Lumley

    Steve Lumley has years of experience writing about property. His output has covered everything from property investment, news for landlords and student tenants to articles on how to run a successful portfolio and starting out as a property investor. He has also written several books on the subject.

    View all posts
  • Paul James

    Paul James, is a marketing expert with a passion for property. As well as being a property investor, Paul has also worked within the marketing departments of some of the UK’s leading estate agents. Paul is the founder of Property Road.

    View all posts
Estate Agent Secrets - 6 Proven Ways To Sell Your Property Faster

^ Proven Ways To sell your property faster

FEATURED DOWNLOAD:

6 Proven Ways To Sell Your Property Faster

When you subscribe to our email newsletter. Plus, receive a 7-day crash course on how to get higher offers on ANY type of property.

You can unsubscribe at any time.
See our Privacy Policy.