To ensure that your property buying experience goes seamlessly and with the least stress is to have your conveyancer and estate agents work well with each other. However, a large number of estate agents (those in large companies) are put under pressure to push buyers into hiring a conveyancer in their pool, too - not giving the buyer a chance to shop around for someone they think more reliable and efficient.
Estate agents pressuring buyers to use a conveyancer in their pool is not very surprising these days. Some estate agents have a financial interest for giving the recommendations: either they are getting hefty sum in referral commission; or the company they are in has a conveyancing section with a pool of solicitors and paralegals.
A lot of sellers and buyers have reportedly complained in the past about how they have been pestered and harassed by the estate agent they're dealing with to skip choosing their own and just hire the agent's recommendation.
Do you want your legal work processed in a sweatshop?
Being pressured into choosing a conveyancer as insisted by the estate agent is very likely to end up in a conveyancing factory. While it isn't very conclusive, complaints about delays and incompetence have been received by the Legal Ombudsman regarding this approach in conveyancing. There have been cases where the legal work has been passed on to a call centre operation where associates give clients a run-around-the-circle regarding the case.
If you're considering the estate agent's recommendation though, thinking it might reduce the time you're going to spend in this transaction, you need to consider the following:
1. The estate agent should have a full disclosure of their interest in the recommendation - whether the conveyancer is a part of the estate agent's company or they're getting a referral commission for making the arrangement. This does not often take place, so insist on getting such information before deciding on it.
2. You should be properly informed whether your transaction will be taken care of by a "factory", where there's a chance of delays and inefficiencies, or a dedicated conveyancer who will diligently carry out the process for you. This is legal work we are talking about and any mistake can cost you a lot.
Always keep in mind that it is your money you're spending to pay for the conveyancing fees and it's your (future) home at stake here. You don't have to automatically sign up to the estate agent's conveyancer, especially if you're being given the runaround of vague details.
If you don't get the information you need to have on the above mentioned premises, don't jump into hiring the agent's conveyancer. Start choosing your own by asking for suggestions from family and friends or shopping around on the Internet. You may also consider the Council for Licensed Conveyancers or the Law Society - Conveyancing Quality Scheme to make sure you're about to hire a competent one.
Lastly, don't forget to ask questions as they will determine how efficient the conveyancer will be once you hand them your case. Plus, the answers they give you should properly set your expectations as to what processes your transaction will go through and how long it should roughly take before you are handed the keys to your just-bought property.