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Written by rosalind renshaw

A new fixed price, no sale, no fee conveyancing service has been launched.

Called Fast Exchange, no fees or disbursements will be charged if the transaction falls through. Fees are charged only when the deal completes.

It is based on the principle that the seller’s solicitors are instructed as soon as the property is listed for sale, so that the seller is in a position to exchange contracts when a buyer is found. The buyer’s solicitors will also be Fast Exchange conveyancers.

Legal firms working within the system have developed protocols to speed up communications.

Desmond McCarthy, business development manager, who has a HIP provider background, said: “The idea of instructing solicitors as soon as a property is offered for sale is not new; however, while the concept is not new, the offering and execution is new.  

“It is no secret that the current conveyancing process is inherently weak and can lead to many an aborted sale. The more time a transaction takes to exchange, the higher the likelihood of it aborting. Even with successful sales, anxiety and uncertainty levels for all concerned can be high.

“Fast Exchange delivers reduced transaction times, less likelihood of sales falling through, better service provision, quicker fee payment and more efficient use of agent time.”

He said that the new service is a solicitor-based platform and not a remote online conveyancing system.

He added that there is also provision for introductory fees to agents.


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    Mike, as you corectly state, solicitors are obliged to declare to their client any referral fees it pays to anyone and not just the agent.

    Its not on the website as some agents do not want a referral fee in which case the cost stated is reduced by the amount an agent would have received.

    • 16 June 2011 20:28 PM
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    Jim: I think you will find that Mike Wilson's summing up of the literacy of the site is accurate.

    But, hey - what else should I expect from someone who addresses people as 'dude'...

    • 16 June 2011 19:35 PM
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    "Desmond McCarthy, business development manager, who has a HIP provider background..."

    WOW! - a long and distinguished career, then...

    "The buyer’s solicitors will also be Fast Exchange conveyancers." REALLY? Or else...?

    • 16 June 2011 19:33 PM
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    "Its a public website and cannot say on there that there are referral fees available per transaction, including related transactions"

    Surely someone instructing a solicitor has a right to know if that solicitor will pay a referral fee to an estate agent.

    According to the Law Society, all referral fees must be disclosed to a client.

    • 16 June 2011 17:50 PM
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    I might not know too much about estate agency, but I do know the rules of the language I use.

    ""Selling and buying a home tends to put people's lives on hold waiting for the legal process to take it's course after a sale is agreed."

    ... to take it's course ...

    There should not be an apostrophe in 'it's' - and I would expect someone educated to the level required by the legal profession to know that. When 'it' is used as a possessive pronoun, there is no apostrophe. The apostrophe in 'it's' is used to indicate the 'i' in 'is' has been missed from 'it is'.

    • 16 June 2011 17:42 PM
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    It all seems perfectly straight forward to me. Two solicitors (proper solicitors) who communicate with each other. For me the appeal is the fees. My local solicitors pass instructions to their mates anyway. Thanks for your explainations Chris P. I assume it's your company.

    • 16 June 2011 15:46 PM
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    Its a public website and cannot say on there that there are referral fees available per transaction, including related transactions.

    • 16 June 2011 14:48 PM
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    Your business model isn't impossible but it would be good if you could post some data on your site to encourage take up from agents, you've probably noticed a lot of naysayers!

    • 16 June 2011 14:24 PM
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    I am another who likes this and have visited the website.

    Anna, the website says fast exchange work with two firms of solicitors ,one of which will be acting for the vendor and one of which will be acting for the buyer. Both firms are named.

    Your comment suggests that an agent who regularly recommends a solicitor acts in the interest of the instructing agent, which cannot
    be as you will know if you are agent.

    If a Solicitor, who is an experienced conveyancer, applies their experience to anticipate likely enquiries, helps their client prepare all information and documentation likely to be required to progress a sale in advance is not acting in their clients best interests then I am at a loss as to what is.

    • 16 June 2011 14:15 PM
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    The essence of Fast Exchange is that that solicitor acting for freehold or leasehold vendor will work pro-actively and gather and prepare documents as if "acting for a buyer" as they know what is generally required from the other side. They will not send a sellers form to the other side waiting for queries to be raised.

    This is where substantial time saving will be achieved by buyers solicitor and while it may not make them redundant, it will surely reduce their workload and lead to a faster process.

    Once buyer solicitor receives documents from other side, they will themselves undertake their own due diligence.

    Anna, there are two respectable solicitors firms working with Fast Exchange who are totally independent. Why would any solicitor compromise their integrity in any way and for whose benefit?

    • 16 June 2011 13:55 PM
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    Any Solicitor accepting instruction from a panel can never really say they act in the best interests of an individual client can they? “I act for you but I am not going to jeopardise the 100 instructions I get every month from the panel manager”

    If they say jump boys you jump.

    Let’s try to keep this honest guys, don't believ the twaddle the HPC children post, we are grown ups!

    • 16 June 2011 12:44 PM
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    Ok so from a freehold point of view it should be more straightforward but what about leasehold?

    To obtain the management info yourself and then anticipate the buyer solicitor’s enquiries, in order to have replies at the ready would, in effect make him redundant. Therefore the sale would rely on the work of one solicitor, surely a conflict of interest?

    On the other hand, very often the buyer solicitor will wish to obtain management info themselves and it is here that they are at the mercy of the managing agent. So if you allow the buyer solicitor to do his job then I'm struggling to see a significant increase in the timeframe for exchange & completion.

    I'm not trying to be argumentative as I am very open to your business model; I'm just seeking a little further clarification.

    • 16 June 2011 12:42 PM
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    @Mike Wilson. I think you've misread that dude. Apart from some commas, looks fine to me.

    • 16 June 2011 12:22 PM
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    Correct phone number is 020 8920 2190

    • 16 June 2011 11:51 AM
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    Thank you for your comments Ant.

    To clarify the conflict of interest issue, the respective solicitors will each carry out a full and proper function but by an early involvement of the seller’s solicitors who will look at the title with a critical eye, the things that need to be considered can be dealt with from the outset thereby reducing the time taken at later stages when the delay is viewed more anxiously by parties involved.

    We presented Fast Exchange to a number of agents in London and have yet to have a concern or query that we could not reasonably allay.

    Should you wish to clarify any matter, please call me on 020 920 2190


    • 16 June 2011 11:47 AM
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    From the FastExchange web site ...

    "Selling and buying a home tends to put people's lives on hold waiting for the legal process to take it's course after a sale is agreed."

    I'm not sure I would want to use a solicitor with such a poor knowledge of English.

    • 16 June 2011 10:36 AM
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    Its true that 'fixed price' and 'no sale no fee' are nothing new but 'no disbursements' is a pretty good USP.

    I get that it may encounter problems in a chain with those not using Fast Exchange. I also get that their ready to exchange document is subject to survey and finance and is based on anticipating the buyer’s solicitor’s enquiries. But come on guys it's a start.

    We have all experienced the bad side of conveyance, which is probably why we're so cynical when these firms announce themselves. Whether this works or not at least tip your hat to them for recognizing the current system is pants and they're trying to do something about it.

    What they are proposing is something that should have been in place anyway. Any firm that can help the process move more quickly gets my vote!

    The only problem I think they might encounter is possibly a conflict of interest. (sorry this is me being cynical too).

    In my experience, as part of their due diligence, most buyer solicitors want to legally verify certain documents themselves rather than have them submitted by seller solicitors. In some cases this obligation is also put upon them by the lender, lets not forget they act for them too. Bypassing this for a quicker exchange may compromise their position and I have yet to meet one who was willing to do this.

    Maybe the solution is to get the buyer to sign a waiver but would that go against the solicitor’s ethics? After all they are supposed to be working in the best interests of their client.

    I'm sure Fast Exchange has thought of this too and I'd welcome their reply.

    • 16 June 2011 10:21 AM
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    If I may be allowed to clarify some elements.

    Fast Exchange is a solicitors based plat'form and not a call centre operation. Vendors and buyers may speak to their solicitor at any time during the day but alas, not 24/7 and they can meet their solicitor by arrangement.

    The uniqueness of Fast Exchange is that it not just a No Sale No Fee but NO disbursements and NO abortive costs at any tme. Vendor / Buyer only pay fixed cost if transaction completes.

    As far as we know, no one else offers this service, certainly no local solicitor and none of the firms mentioned by Day Book.

    Solicitors working with Fast Exchange have vast years experience and are competent to deal with whatever arises.

    And Richard, the offer is exactly as it is stated and there is nothing at all hidden. Totally transparent

    Threre is even provision for Agent introductory fees in the costs.

    For full details please go to:

    • 15 June 2011 17:34 PM
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    When its too good to be true its normally so.

    This model cannot work unless they are not exactly being open. (Didn’t use any offensive terms but many could be substituted in!)

    Lots of terms widely in use so nothing new, but pre sale work has to minimal at best loss making more likely and like many other Solicitors model will certainly collapse, unless there a twist that hit the consumer.

    • 15 June 2011 14:59 PM
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    I hate call centre solicitors - HATE I tell you.

    They are fine when the going is easy, but when is it easy - 10% of sales?

    I have always recommended a good local solicitor - always one who is not cheap and not expensive.

    Why, not for referral fees, that's for sure - but because they are GOOD.

    It makes my job so much easier and lets me get on with my REAL job of selling houses.

    I currently have a running sale agreed 1st week of Feb on a simple 2 bed flat.

    Both solicitors are cheapy panel jobs and it is an effing nightmare - after 4 months, neither solicitor had bothered to raise the question of management accounts.

    What is that about.

    Solicitor "Thank you for your instructions. So it's a flat - I'm going to need a copy of the lease and management accounts..."

    Surely that is in the first 5 things a solicitor should ask about.


    • 15 June 2011 13:38 PM
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    No sale no fee - like other comments on here, many local firms have been doing this for some time (albeit with the proviso that they get paid at some point - usually chargeable if property is eventually removed from sale - will the same apply here?)

    I seem to remember HIP's were going to dramatically reduce sale times as well...ahem

    Time will tell...

    • 15 June 2011 12:56 PM
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    Yeah, I also had a double take at the no disbursements bit. Seems a bit generous? It isn't reinventing the wheel, but in cost terms it looks like a no-brainer. Would be nice if they mentioned how much the fees to agents were. If anyone tries it out, please let me know how you get on although I'm only interested if it is definetly NOT a remote online conveyancing service, as stated. I only want to deal with a 'proper' solicitor, no offence luv. BTW, it can't be an advert as there are no contact details?

    • 15 June 2011 10:24 AM
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    Erm, doesn't 'no sale/no fee' only encourage deluded kite-flying vendors?

    • 15 June 2011 10:12 AM
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    no fees OR DISBURSEMENTS appears to be the moot point here. I agree though, it's an advert!

    • 15 June 2011 09:21 AM
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    @ James...its an advert clearly. My local solicitor charges no sale no fee and has done for past 10 years.

    • 15 June 2011 09:13 AM
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    The headline makes it sound as though no sale no fee legals is revolutionary, Live did thiovum 1997 and created the concept of early legals called Homefile so this is hardly innovative. Fast Exchange, what a loveley thought, what about the other 6 people in the chain who are not using this innovative (mmm) platform. Good Luck to Fast Exchange but you may find firms like My Home Move, Clear with many high steeet solicitors are already there.

    • 15 June 2011 08:36 AM
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    Been doing this for years at less than £400 - is this news or an advert? :-)

    • 15 June 2011 08:28 AM
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    But how much is the fixed price? And where are they located? can the client go and see them? can they deal with sensitive difficult issues? or will this be yet another call centre?

    • 15 June 2011 07:15 AM
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