Conveyancing Quotes and Conveyancing Estimates - what is the difference?

Have you:

  1. ever wondered what the difference between a 'Conveyancing Quote' and an 'Estimate' is? 
  2. noticed the subtle distinction whether related to Conveyancing or, for that matter, any other service?  Surely they are one and the same aren’t they? 
  3. assumed that the a 'quote' from a Solicitor for conveyancing is fixed and cannot change?

What you see is what you pay isn’t?

Well actually, no!

I recently purchased double glazing for my flat and anyone who has been through this process will know it isn’t easy to get a straight answer.

Prices varied from £1, 400 to £4, 000 around indecipherable criteria  like whether I wanted Grade A or C glass and frame??

Some companies gave me an 'estimate' for the work and some gave me a 'quote'.   All I wanted was a fixed figure for someone to complete the work.   In the end (after a battle) I received A rated frames from polite well mannered workers and glass fitted for a 'Guaranteed Fixed Fee'.

Without wishing to criticise sales techniques in the double glazing industry, I wouldn’t have expected Conveyancing Solicitors to be playing the same games.

The definition of a quote is as follows:

a fixed price offer that cannot be changed once accepted by a client.   This still stands if it takes additional work to fulfil the original agreement.

The definition of an estimate as follows:

an educated guess at what work will be needed to be completed however it is not binding.   If an estimate is given, the supplier (Solicitor) will supply a breakdown of what fees could be charged dependent on all and any eventualities.

Essentially an 'estimate' leaves you exposed to additional fees being applied by your Solicitor for work relating to your Conveyancing transaction.   This subtle nuance in the definition can be exploited and, If you aren’t careful, you might end up paying considerably more than your estimate when you move home.

In fact in the world of Conveyancing an ‘estimated’ 99% of 'estimates' will increase on completion with some form of additional fee being charged.

I have heard horror stories from clients where they were given an estimate of £350 but ended up paying over £1, 000 to their Solicitor.   I have seen some estimates that don’t even include CHAPS fees, which in case you didn’t know, are required on all Conveyancing transactions and therefore hardly an unforeseen additional expense.

For the most part Solicitor's ‘quotes’  are incorrectly named and should be called ‘estimates’ and the technique of lowering the headline conveyancing fee is a ‘sprat to catch a mackerel’ or a bait to lure in business at an apparently bargain price.

Surely this is misconduct and monitored and regulated by the Solicitor’s Regulators (SRA)?

In actuality, as long as the additional fees have been shown in full  (think tiny light grey font in the terms and conditions) to you prior to your instruction and then the SRA considers you to have been informed of the additional fees that can be charged.

When reading an estimate always read it in conjunction with all other documents (paper, electronic or online) supplied as they may contain contractual obligations.

The most likely hiding place for additional fees is in the Terms of Engagement (a slightly pompous way of describing ‘terms and conditions’ or ‘small print’.   You will find that this is usually written in small font and will not be disclosed to you until the very last moment before you instructing the Solicitor.

Remember, when you instruct your Solicitor they will ask you to confirm you have read and accept the ‘terms of engagement’.

As part of my day to day role, I often compare our ‘quote’ to other Solicitor ‘estimates’ (We call this the ‘Quote Beater’) to try and ensure clients save as much money as possible as well as to give them an exact figure for their Conveyancing upfront.

Only the other day a client gave me an 'estimate' from a Conveyancing Solicitor in Fareham and this is an anonymised excerpt from their Terms of Engagement:

"ESTIMATES: It is difficult to estimate, at this stage, how many hours of work will be necessary to complete your matter partly because so much depends upon the way in which others react.   An estimate of charges is attached based on information presently known, and is given on the basis that your matter does not prove to be substantially more urgent, complex or time consuming than currently anticipated.   Estimates may change as the matter proceeds and it becomes clearer how much time is likely to be needed. Wherever possible we will let you know as soon as we can, if it becomes apparent that your matter has become more urgent, complex or time consuming than presently estimated.   We will try and give you an indication of the anticipated future costs. "

As with my double glazing quotes it is hard to pin and exact price down and one is left at the mercy of additional costs spiralling after the Conveyancer is instructed.

Fridaysmove always and only provide Fixed Fee Conveyancing Quotes.

Our Conveyancing Fees are guaranteed not to vary, they are totally transparent and there are no additional fees hidden away.   It is possible to get a Grade A service at a reasonable price as we sell exactly that day in day out.

Call now for more information on how Fridaysmove are bringing much needed transparency to Conveyancing.