Diary of a High Street Conveyancer; 22nd November 2021

The issue with the Simplify group continued this week. There is still no clarity as to what has happened, but the effect on the lives of many is clear. One only needs to look on Twitter, Trust pilot and a Facebook group which has been set up to see what is happening and importantly, what the public are being told and the rollercoaster they are experiencing. 

I think that moving house is a stressful experience and always tell my clients that they do need to prepare themselves for an element of stress, principally being caused by a process over which they have no control. I also point out to them that I also have no control over what happens and when, and all I can do is hope that others involved in the process work together to achieve the goal of a successful house move.

Out of all of the posts I have read, there is one which exemplifies one thing for me

The issue of referral fees.

A post on Twitter stated that a large online estate agency would not allow the house mover to change lawyers without paying an additional fee for doing so. This is because the estate agency would lose the referral fee.

What the public now seem to be realising is that the reasons they were pointed in the direction of a particular lawyers’ firm was not for the reasons they were given; it will go smoothly, we have access to those who can push your house move quickly, your seller is using them so it keeps everything in the same place and will help you to move more quickly; but for a referral fee.

There is some vitriol regarding this and the public affected by this are hurt as many say that they were not made aware of such a fee being paid.

The public need educating in what is involved not only in the actual house moving process but also in how the interests of others can distort the market and the experience. If an agent tells a client that they cannot swap lawyers following a cyber attack, then, in my view, this is wrong.

A client should be able to instruct whichever lawyer they wish, and in such a  situation as now,  where clients just want to move house, there should be no financial bar on them doing so, indeed Simplify have confirmed that they will not be charging for the work they have completed on matters to date should people choose to switch conveyancer.


This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.

3 Responses

  1. There are indeed many comments posted on social media claiming that sellers and buyers were not told about any referral fees being paid. That might not of course be the case, because, as we know sellers and buyers receive a lot of information at the beginning of their transactions and not all of it is read or remembered. However, the payment of a referral fee is supposed to be declared and made transparent by all conveyancing firms and estate agents, therefore, the referral fee issue needs looking at, again.

  2. We have had countless situations where the Estate Agents will point blank refuse to allow a buy chose their own conveyancer or even mortgage broker.

    Another rather unseemly tactic by Estate Agents that needs to highlighted is the ‘fake’ viewings. This involves paying an individual to view a property just to keep the seller happy or fooled into thinking there is a lot of interest. This paid individual is not a genuinely interested party. Perhaps this has been going on for years but it was only brought to my attention in recent weeks by a client who rumbled it- the paying ‘viewer’ turned out to be a close friend who admitted he had been paid.

    Both the above scenarios by Estate Agents under the umbrella of a well know national brand.

  3. And this also amplifies the level of control which agents wish to have at every turn from start to finish. Being paid for the work and not telling a buyer/seller about a kickback is underhanded. The practice needs to stop.

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