A seller’s right to choose the conveyancer

David Adshade

It is important for property sellers to choose their own conveyancers because their rights need to be protected, according to an expert. It often occurs that the estate agent will advise sellers that do not have one, to use their recommended conveyancers.

Attorney Liora Bamberger of Liora Bamberger and Associates said that the common law recognises this in that the default position is that the seller gets to choose the conveyancer.

“Do not be bullied into agreeing to the agent appointing their own conveyancer if it doesn’t suit you because it means that you have no control over the process,” said Bamberger.

She said that even though the seller chooses the conveyancer, the buyer has to pay the costs and in this regard the buyer is protected by the tariff of conveyancing fees.

Whilst I agree with Bamberger in principle and estate agents shouldn’t attempt to influence a seller in this regard, they have nothing to gain materially or financially from recommending a conveyancer. It therefore stands to reason that doing so certainly does not amount to bullying. In cases where the seller has no specific preference, as part of the service provided the agent may offer them a choice of reputable local specialists that are qualified to take care of the transaction speedily and professionally.  This gives the estate agent (who is employed to represent the best interests of the seller) control over the transaction. The agent and seller are then in a better position to ensure that any unanticipated issues that crop up are dealt with quickly and efficiently. Additionally, the buyer is fully entitled to request a discount on the conveyancing fee. Bear in mind however, that certain costs like Deeds Office fees, duties and VAT are not negotiable.

Sellers beware

It is vitally important to ensure that you use a firm that has a qualified conveyancer, and not use a litigation attorney.  In many cases we find that a seller insists on using the same attorney that is  dealing with their divorce or business matters and so on. If the attorney does not deal with conveyancing on a daily basis and understand the Deeds Office procedure, they can unwittingly cause severe delays that may even result in the transaction being rejected by the Deeds Office when submitted for transfer. The submission process then has to start from scratch and can add weeks or even months to the transaction.

I recently had a transaction that was rejected by the Deeds Office twice for the most basic of errors. A transaction signed in May was finally registered in November! The sellers had appointed their divorce attorney.

Bamberger advises:
* Choose a conveyancer you can trust
* It should be someone who can do the transfer speedily and professionally
* Always ask your conveyancer to check the deed of sale before signing it, because things can go very wrong if the sale of agreement is not worded correctly.

 Final Word

  • Only employ an estate agent that has the necessary qualifications and you can trust to represent your best interests – this may not always be the cheapest one!
  • Take the advice of your estate agent – they do this every day and know what they are talking about.
  • Your estate agent has a network of tried and trusted professionals – use their recommendations.


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