An anonymous conveyancer has admitted increasing fees to deter buyers and sellers in the frenzied housing market during the stamp duty holiday.
The admission is reported in the Law Gazette, which runs a feature prompted by an Estate Agent Today story earlier this week.
The solicitor told the Law Gazette that: “Some firms have chosen to put fees up, some have decided that they will not do new build work - it is for each firm to manage the work load, especially in a boom as we have never seen before.”
The solicitor said that in the current boom, some estate agents are making sales before they have prepared the marketing material or conducted viewings.
The article was prompted by a leading agent’s comment on conveyancers’ fees, reported in Estate Agent Today on Monday.
Jeremy Leaf - principal of north London estate agency Jeremy Leaf & Co, and a former RICS residential faculty chair - says he has seen different solicitors quote £6,500 and £2,500 for what would appear to be the same work.
Of the higher charge, Leaf has now told the Law Gazette that the £6,500 conveyancing fee was double the normal charge from that company.
He tells the Law Gazette: “It is clear some conveyancers are working under extreme pressure to meet the deadline working their socks off whereas others are doubling their fees … If solicitors are overcharging, without justification, then bad word soon goes around. If they have no choice but to put charges up, they should explain why that’s the case as well as what their rates would revert to after this rush is over.”
He instead encourages conveyancers to admit they are charging higher fees now, and pledge to return to normal fees when the housing market returns to more regular levels of activity.
“Justify your fees, be transparent, say ‘This is just a one-off in order to meet an intense deadline and to pay our staff extra to work evenings and weekends to get the job done’” he urges.
You can see the full Law Gazette article here, and the EAT article with Jeremy Leaf’s original comments here.