5 April 2011 by Sarah Davies

Referral Fees

For several years now, some solicitors have tried to maintain their levels of new instructions by paying estate agents referral fees. The fee is paid to the agent, usually on the completion of a deal, as a thank you for recommending the client to the firm. Solicitors are then in a position of having to maintain that fee, which is sometimes upwards of 30% of the fee they charge their client, or risk having another firm stepping in and offering to pay the agent a higher fee.

A client may not realise that this is even taking place, however, the Solicitor’s Referral Code and the National Association of Estate Agents guidelines are very clear in stating that buyers and sellers must be informed at the outset of the transaction if a referral fee is paid to the agent.

From a client’s point of view, the concern must be that they are being recommended to solicitors paying the highest referral fee rather than the best firm for the job. From the solicitor’s viewpoint, some are losing out on huge amounts of business because agents are tied up with the highest fee paying firms.

As a profession, Law Society and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers research has shown that most solicitors are against having to pay for recommendations. In the last few months, some firms have gone even further with four firms in Cumbria standing together to agree that they will no longer pay for recommendations.

Reassuringly, recent research has shown that the majority of estate agents now say that it is the quality of work and the responsiveness of a firm of solicitors that are the most important factors when recommending a firm, with many saying that the fee paid to them was the least. This is extremely positive news and, going forward, hopefully means that firms will compete according to service provided rather than the fee paid and this has got to be in the best interests of our clients.

25 March 2011 by Louise Dawson

A welcome surprise for residential property investors

In his budget on Wednesday, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the Government will change the stamp duty land tax ('SDLT') rules for bulk purchases of residential properties. This includes purchases of two or more properties in one transaction.

4 April 2011 by

Budget News key points affecting the residential property market

The latest Budget, announced by George Osborne on the 23 March 2011 included various measures that are likely to have an affect on the residential property market.

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