Law Society calls for estate agents to have to disclose referral fee amounts at very start

Estate agents should have to disclose the actual amount of any referral fees they receive at the very outset, says the Law Society.

The body does not call for a ban on referral fees, but is clearly not against one, saying: “If referral fees for conveyancing services were banned there could be scope for better service standards.”

The Law Society says that agents should also make it clear from the start to purchasers that they act for the seller and not the buyer; and give information to buyers as to how they can complain.

The body has made the points in its response to the Government call for evidence on how to improve the house buying and selling process.

It says that conveyancers are highly regulated, and that estate agents should be subject to “some increased regulation”.

Law Society president Joe Egan said: “Home buyers and sellers should be aware of their rights, as well as the responsibilities of all stakeholders in the transaction. This should include an overview of the process and the potential costs and fees involved. We are calling on the Government to ensure consumers have access to this information at the beginning of transactions.”

On the part technology could play in improving the house buying and selling process, the Law Society sounds lukewarm. It says technology can play a key role, but that it is not the silver bullet.

The ‘beginning of transactions’ could be defined as being as early as the moment a potential buyer decides whether to pick up a phone or not to an agent about a property based on the information given.


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  1. mattfaizey

    How about the LS assist in sorting their own house first?

    Actually get your members to complete and advise the client / chase the money through by the time in the contract perhaps?

    Or maybe stop the idiocy of actively promoting gazundering by working to crazy timetables of their own making resulting in exchange and completion on same day?

    Or perhaps have a competency test that might stop things like we saw on Monday. A solicitor who ‘forgotten’ to draw down mortgage funds. As a result a family have slept on a sofa last two nights.

    Glass houses LS, glass houses.

    And how many members are incapable of serving notice to complete when they should due to self interest?

    Is that a stone I see?

    1. ArthurHouse02

      Matt you are completely right. There are so many issues with conveyancers/solicitors, that referral fees is not really a consideration, besides i thought it was already the law that we had to disclose we were being paid a referral fee? This fees were suggested by their members not by estate agents, if they dont like the way it has turned out, then it is down to them. If some of their members are complaining about losing business to firms that are paying fees or higher fees, then perhaps they should look at improving standards and communication….which in the main is bloody awful

      1. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

        Yes – ArthurHouse02 – overall, the quality of expertise and experience in the legal industry, in our experience, is woeful.

        Ironically, however, the Law Society ( and it’s associated regulatory body ) do very little to help on this area.  Anyone labouring under the understanding that these bodies have an impact on raising standards will be sadly disappointed.

        We see poor behaviour from so-called CQS accredited firms on a regular basis.

        Rest assured that any noises being made by them will have little resonance.

        I mean – what have they done about informing the public about the outrageous fees paid to panel managers for example?

        Although, and we’re not sure if it’s just us, but it seems that the drumbeat of transparency on fees does seem to be getting louder …

  2. TwitterSalisPropNews53

    A ban on referral fees will be attacked by those who benefit from them – estate agents, and mediocre conveyancers.

    But of course they should be banned.

    But how can they be, as the simplest way around them is – for example – to offer an estate agent a fee for putting an advert in their publications/website, so expensive a year as to replace the referral fee.

    Instead, (commission excluded) you might have estate agents make a declaration that they have received no remuneration, cash or kind, from any conveyancing business, or have the conveyancers do likewise – as solicitors would be at an unfair advantage, as only the LS have the appetite (as we all know the LS direct the highest standards for the solicitor conveyancers – e.g they ban acting for both sides too).

    But policing it would be an issue, as MASSIVE cash bungs are at play here, as are the survival of some of the most mediocre conveyancers too, who wont allow a ban if they can help it, and cannot trade on quality but instead pay so much cash bung that the estate agent gives them work, knowing how poor they are.

    Sadly, the recently closed Government’s call for evidence to improve home buying could help, but I am not holding my breath based on track record.

    2018 will be an even lower standard for the public’s choice of conveyancer and estate agent -unless they instruct my conveyancing team that is :o)


  3. Sunbeam175

    I wonder which golf course this idea was muted?

  4. Essjaydee51

    My agency doesn’t take ref money, we use good quality solicitors which we learn of from experience and we try and mostly succeed in keeping the business as local as possible however what is driving these good solicitors out of business or under the umbrella of a large corporation is their exorbitingly increasing prof indemnity insurance year after year and this could possibly be down to the naughty solicitors that divert certain mortgage monies to their and their accomplices accounts for non existing addresses as well known in my area.

    my point being forget the hundreds of pounds going legitimately to us and sort out your own house as already mentioned.

  5. TimmyG85

    I’ve just called all of the Law Society’s registered solicitors to ask how many of them pay referral fees?

    90% of my calls went to an answering machine with a message to say that their office will likely be open some time in January.

    Looks like as the agent I will be the one assisting with legal queries for my buyers and sellers yet again whilst their lawyers are at home sat in an arm chair drinking whisky.

    1. Jon

      I’m calling you out on that!!!!  Don’t believe for a minute that 90% of the solicitors called have already closed and don’t know when they will re-open.  Name them and let us check your results.

      And whilst you are at it, what legal experience do you have?  If you are giving legal advice without the necessary experience (and insurance) you are opening up a can of worms should your advice be incorrect and why are you giving advice to your buyer? Isn’t the Seller your client?  Conflict of interest anyone?

      Merry Xmas ya filthy animals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. AgentV

        Is that not just a tad offensive?

        1. Jon

          What?  The Merry Christmas bit?  That’s from Home Alone and is used all over the world.  No offence meant – just being festive.

          If you mean the bit above – then I don’t believe it to be offensive, just asking a question and raising a valid point.

          Happy Holidays or not, depending on your faith

  6. Fairfax87

    Here they go again.. lawyers Peter Ambrose and Tim Higham on their soapbox….. YAWN

  7. PaulWilson32

    Good – the referral fees only exist to serve everyone in the transaction but the buyer and seller who don’t see a penny of either.

    Why should middle-men get fat on fees that can sometimes jeopardise a seller’s position – as agents would sooner refer to a sub-standard solicitor paying a kickback than a quality firm who does not.

    I await “defence” that sub-standard solicitors aren’t used as it would jeopardise the transaction which the agent wants to get through, but the reality is that some of the best solicitors in the country refuse to give referral fees. It simply isn’t necessary if you just, guess what, do a good job.

  8. JWVW

    So long as we don’t have to disclose the endless rounds of golf, days at horse races, jollies abroad, cases of champagne etc etc etc…..

  9. mattfaizey

    The ultimate truth is their profession has been in crisis since the recession. They were, and are still, far too arrogant, ignorant and selfish to accept the changes needed.

    The last decade their fees have reduced.

    Instead of battling to be better, perform better, and as a result garner goodwill and ever increasing clientele the reaction was, and is baffling.

    Charging less as a result of technological innovation, more competition within a marketplace consisting of more ruthless and well informed public has resulted broadly in a childish response.

    While other professions strove to give more, be better and gain customers this lot chose to do less, give less and be less due to the fee reductions.

    As a consequence both this site and EAT consistently see every critic of conveyancing responded to with moans and groans about earnings.

    And the rest of us that are at the mercy of their generally **** attitude are suffering.

    To the conveyancers and lawyers;

    Do your jobs correctly and well, with customers best interests at heart and your issues will resolve themselves.

    Having your clients not get exchange for 6months, and then only 48 hours between that and completion – with key release then not coming until 4pm is a sure-fire way to have EA’s and clients actively choose to never recommend you again.

    Sort your own issues first, and worry about your earnings and others once you’re beyond reproach.

  10. Rob Hailstone

    The circle of blame once again. Of the 1000s of conveyancers I know, very few (if any) spend hours on the golf course of out on jollys. Most work longer hours than anyone realises, and care about their clients and bust a gut for them.

    If you want to name and shame (and the complaint is found to be genuine), and they are Bold Legal Group member firms, I will take the issues up with them and, if need be consider refusing them membership in the future.

  11. femaleNeg8804

    You don’t get a referral fee until the sale is complete so why would an agent be specifically using useless solicitors? By getting a fee you become an introducer and so the solicitor gives better communication and it doesn’t matter if its seller or buyer as you want to keep buyer on side and massage their ego to get the sale for your client the seller.


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