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Free legals: ‘The whole conveyancing industry will be very different in a few years’ – Marketwatch

  • 20/09/2017
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Free legals: ‘The whole conveyancing industry will be very different in a few years’ – Marketwatch
Free legal services have been a bone of contention for brokers for some time, but following significant problems has the situation improved and are brokers recommending their clients avoid them?

Andrew Montlake, director of Coreco, warns that clients should still be wary of free legal services.

Stacey Gulliver, financial adviser at Moneysprite, says keeping in touch with solicitors can help smooth the process.

Paul Bumford, director of Andrews Financial Services, notes that the client’s mortgage requirement should be top priority.


Andrew Montlake CorecoAndrew Montlake, director of Coreco


We are still recommending to clients that they approach free legals with extreme caution, especially if there is anything complicated or they have certain time pressures. We are careful to point out their limitations and the fact that in many cases we have little power in expediting the process if things start to go wrong. In many cases taking a cashback and using their own solicitors may be more beneficial.

That said, some providers such as Optima, have worked hard to improve their offering, but among many others the same old issues are occurring.

We would still encourage lenders generally to offer cashbacks rather than adopt the free legal approach, which involves driving down the cost of the legal process to such an extent that a factory style system leaves quality of service lagging behind.

The emergence of new, digital conveyancers is the answer to speed up the process and I suspect that the whole conveyancing industry will be a very different place in the next few years.


Stacey-GulliverStacey Gulliver, finanical adviser at Moneysprite


My advice is if you are arranging your remortgage in a suitable time period (two – three months before the product end date), then free legals are an attraction as the client doesn’t need to pay anything for their remortgage as usually the valuation is included too.

Even some of the slower free legals services are still able to complete in the time scale needed in this case.

If a quick turnaround is necessary I advise clients some services do take slightly longer as they do prove more difficult get hold of. However, when you do eventually get through the one good thing is usually anyone can deal with the case rather an asking for a specific solicitor.

Where cashback is concerned, a number of solicitors will match legal fees to the cashback amount. This works very nicely and builds a good rapport with the solicitor making the whole process a lot easier.

I always keep in touch with my clients’ solicitors by calling to introduce myself, giving them all my contact details and if they need anything chasing I can help, so hopefully making everything run on time.

This has worked very well for me and I haven’t had any major issues with free legals apart from the extra time needed from me to chase them.


Paul-Bumford-AndrewsOnlinePaul Bumford, director of Andrews Financial Services


We would always advise each and every client on the mortgage best suited to them.

We, like most advisers, offer a transparent and well-regulated system that ensures the correct, most valid and above all the best advice is given to each individual client dependent on their circumstances.

While covering their own legal fees is beneficial for some clients, free legal advice has its perks for others. It is important to assess the distinct needs of individuals in order to match them to their perfect legal situation.

Free legal services may sometimes feel like a loss of control since the client has no choice in the legal firm that is selected, or the firm’s respective timescales in relation to their own.

In some cases it may be worth paying for legal services to help ease the clash in timetables.

Similarly, cash-back mortgages may work for some, and not for others. The promise of a cash pay-out may be tempting but the potentially higher interest rates may not be suited to everyone. Cashback money can be used to pay for a solicitor, giving you the opportunity to be in control of the situation.

Always be open to exploring your options, you may find a better fit than you were expecting – it’s all about perceived, personal choice.

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