Building Society praised for scrapping free legal services

A building society’s recent decision to abandon free legal services in favour of a cashback rise has received praise.

Nationwide Building Society has ceased its free provision of legals for customers who choose to switch, instead, increasing the cashback incentive to £500.

Having come into effect last week, the change has been welcomed by various industry figures, who have described the conveyancing services linked to lenders as unrepresentative of client interests.

Expressing this view was Kevin Tunnicliffe, the chief executive of SortRefer. Highlighting the issues that free legals have caused in the past, he stated: “At SortRefer we have campaigned to persuade intermediaries to consider cashback rather than free legals for some time.

“The recent horrendous service issues that have been widely reported as a result of lender chosen free legals conveyancing firms being overwhelmed, seems to have concentrated minds.”

He went on to mention his approval of Nationwide’s decision, stating that linked conveyancers may not necessarily represent the client.

“We, therefore, welcome Nationwide’s move to withdraw free legals in favour of bolstering their cashback offering. This is a signal that we will see more lenders following suit.

“Apart from the obvious and very visible service issues, we have always felt that customers are not best served where, with a free legals package, the conveyancer chosen by the lender only represents the lender and not the client.”

Tunniclife concluded by drawing attention to the positive impact that the change could have on the conveyancing process, enabling clients to retain an element of control.

“We therefore welcome Nationwide’s move to withdraw free legals in favour of bolstering their cashback offering. This is a signal that we will see more lenders following suit.”

“Apart from the obvious and very visible service issues, we have always felt that customers are not best served where, with a free legals package, the conveyancer chosen by the lender only represents the lender and not the client.”

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