Government ‘How To’ Guides Emphasise Importance Of Price And Service Transparency

Conveyancer transparency in the home buying and selling sector was emphasised earlier today as the government published their detailed ‘how to’ guides on buying and selling property.

The reports emphasise that consumers should be savvy in who they choose to instruct to sell their home. Alluding to recent regulatory changes, the government highlighted that sellers should be looking at price, service and quality of the law firm before making a definite decision.

When looking at price, consumers were advised to look for ‘any hidden extras’ or if the conveyancer will be paid a ‘referral fee for your custom.’ Similarly, buyers are told to ask if the law firm paid a referral fee for their custom.

Buyers are also informed that the conveyancer they instruct should tell them ‘the full price upfront’ if the firm is to comply with recent regulatory changes. They are also advised to check for ‘hidden extras;’ this could vary from additional fees charged by the law firm through to third-party costs like survey fees or local search fees.

In terms of price, sellers are also encouraged to ask if the firm they instruct are offering a no-move, no-fee service. Buyers are also encouraged to enquire about the process and costs they are liable to pay if the move falls through.

The reference to no sale, no fee conveyancing services could be the government’s way of encouraging buyers and sellers to look for legal service providers already offering this service. As this information is absorbed, it could influence more conveyancers to offer this service moving forward.

The two publications also focus their attention on regulatory change in regards to service transparency. The ‘How to Sell’ guide reminds sellers to look at online reviews and consider the type of property they are selling when researching a conveyancer. The report suggests that any research into a perspective conveyancing service should look at the experience and expertise the firm has before making a decision.

Similarly, buyers are asked to look at the property type when considering the viability of a legal service provider. The document insists that buyers of leasehold property would save time if a leasehold specialist ‘handles your purchase.’

Furthermore, the buyers’ guide emphasises that before completion, the legal service provider will have checked the plans and property boundaries are correct and advise the buyer to check for leasehold implications before the sale is complete.

Conveyancers should have been adapting their policies to become price and service transparent since December of last year. The ‘how to’ guides published today, could act as a catalyst for further compliance moving forward.

Christina Blacklaws, Law Society President, commented:

“Consumers need to know more about the process for home buying and selling, including and understanding the information they should be looking for.

“The Law Society is committed to making the process more open, transparent and efficient. We are working with Government and other stakeholders to make improvements – including contributing to the creation of the guides.

“Having a common point of reference for consumers will help them navigate successfully navigate what can often be a complicated and stressful process.

“Professionals and consumers can now refer to the same standardised set of guidance.

“The guides include detailed steps on how to complete a property transaction, where to find further information, and the organisations which can help.

“Buying or selling a home is one of the most important decisions people will make. The more information that is provided early in the process the more likely it is that they will be able to make informed choices and crucially, to avoid the common pitfalls.”

Is your law firm price and service transparent? Do your policies ensure that sellers and buyers, following governmental advice, would feel positive about their experience following the transaction?       

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