So you've taken the plunge and decided to move.  You've looked at the local area to find out which agents are selling well and finally met up with someone in a shiny suit to sign up for a sale of your property.  At some point in this process you will be offered an incentive to use the agent's in-house conveyancers who are always "much better for you, quicker and all under one roof so you will get a far better experience from your sale" - you may even be told that if you want to use a previous trusted Solicitor or similar that an additional fee will have to be levied to cover the enhanced costs of dealing with an outsider.

The vast majority of agents who tell you this are simply lying. 

Firstly why should you have to pay the agent more to use a previous trusted solicitor - what additional costs do they incur? Secondly, they almost certainly do not have "their own" in-house conveyancers - nor will the process be quicker or cheaper.  What they have is a cosy and usually undisclosed arrangement with a volume conveyancer - often many miles away - where the agent gets paid for introducing your business to the conveyancers.  In some cases the "in-house" arrangement uses sophisticated technology to brand a "white label" service with the agent's name - the same bulk conveyancer will be working for several different agencies and all of them are selling their services as "their" in-house conveyancing team.

Some volume conveyancers will do a great job for you - but their whole model is geared to dealing with a large volume of similar business efficiently (after all a significant proportion of their fixed fee is really paid to the selling agent for sourcing the business, so there isn't much left to fund quality staff or bespoke dealing). If your transaction is entirely uncomplicated it may be handled perfectly adequately by a largely automated process, but as soon as something abnormal crops up, watch out for additional charges, which you will have been warned about in the small print of the standard paperwork you will receive from a bulk conveyancer. Volume conveyancers will always make sure they have complied with any necessary regulatory issues, so if things go wrong you won't have a leg to stand on.

In a recent transaction we noted there was a need to deal with a common issue and a "rider" had to be added to the contract. We put this forward as a half-dozen lines of text - with no additional charge. The volume conveyancer acting for the sellers demanded an aditional £100 plus VAT from their clients as a fixed fee to deal with this.

If you are getting a hard-sell from your agents recommending their in-house lawyers - ask them where they are based, will you be able to go and sit down with anyone if any of the paperwork gets tricky and, crucially, what do they get for recommending them.

For traditional highly-skilled and genuine personal service for your domestic conveyancing from our fully-qualified solicitors please contact Jo O'Hara; James Buxton or Nick Fluck via our contacts links.