This is something I hear on a daily basis, the quick answer is “NO”.
When your estate agent recommends a conveyancing Solicitor or a Licensed Conveyancer/Property Lawyer, it is likely the firm they are recommending are paying them a “referral fee”. This fee is usually passed on to you, the client.
You may be surprised to learn that some “referral fees” are in the £100s, simply for your conveyancing business. This is why conveyancing fees vary so widely.
Read the small print before you sign any agreements! Every Law Firm should detail how much they receive from the Estate Agent for passing business to them. Both The Solicitors Regulation Authority and The Council for Licensed Conveyancers regulate conveyancing solicitors and Licensed Conveyancers in terms of referral fees, ensuring that no fees are hidden from the client. Solicitors/Licensed Conveyancers are required to provide full details of their fees, the disbursement costs and associated expenses with your agreement. They are also required to reveal exactly how much they paid for your referral. Look at this closely!
I suggest you ask the Solicitor/Licensed Conveyancer/Property Lawyer for details of the referral fee they have paid for your (potential) custom. In addition to checking the amount of money you, the client, are paying for your referred business, I strongly recommend that you get at least three quotes for your conveyancing. Fees for leasehold and freeholds within different valuation brackets can vary widely. I also suggest that you search for reviews of the firms you are interested in working with.
In summary, it is vital that when you are buying or selling a property, you hire a lawyer that you can trust to act in your best interests and who will have the relevant experience to complete the transaction properly. Make sure you know exactly how your lawyer works so you can be certain business will be completed in a timely manner to the best standard and at a price that is fair to both parties.
Regardless of who is recommended to you by your estate agent, everyone has the right to choose their own conveyancing solicitor or licensed property lawyer. The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) rigorously state that clients should choose their lawyer without pressure being put upon them and that lawyers are meant to ensure this is the case when taking on new business.
If feel that you are pressurised into choosing a particular lawyer or firm, speak to a member of the SRA or CLC and they will provide you with advice on what to do.