The editor of the legal publication the Law Gazette has taken an estate agent to task for daring to suggest that some conveyancers may be taking advantage of the stamp duty rush by increasing their fees.
Last week Jeremy Leaf, one of the country’s highest profile agents and a former chairman of the residential faculty at the RICS, suggested that some solicitors were charging exorbitant fees on transactions as they near the latest stamp duty holiday deadline.
“Certain solicitors are charging exorbitant fees to take on work, whereas others are working evenings and weekends to make sure they get over the line in time” he said, citing different solicitors quotes of £6,500 and £2,500 for what appeared to be the same work.
Now Paul Rogerson, in a leader column in the Law Gazette, says Leaf’s comments have sparked outrage and brands his criticism as “peculiar”.
Rogerson writes: “One could argue that Leaf’s example actually shows that the market is working well – the client, after all, can always choose the conveyancer charging £2,500. Perhaps the conveyancer charging £6,500 offers a much better service.”
He argues that in a market where demand outstrips supply, prices go up - and he adds “especially in an area where fees have arguably been too low for years.”
Last week the Law Gazette, in response to Leaf’s original comments made on Estate Agent Today, carried a separate story of a solicitor who admitted hiking fees.
“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.