What can I do if my solicitor really isn't performing? I instructed them 6 weeks ago. I've paid for searches and have a mortgage offer, but they still havn't raised enquiries.

A.        Well, this is where the choice of a great estate agent really begins to prove its worth, since they can get involved and assist you in understanding why nothing has happened.

Whether you are the seller or the buyer the agent will want the sale to go through smoothly and will expend great efforts to ensure it does!

Most good estate agents keep regular tabs on sales progress and can contact your solicitor to see what has gone wrong. As agents we use a variety of techniques to establish what is going on and if your solicitor ignores our chasing phone calls we can send them an e-mail and copy you in as the client. If the situation deteriorates further then you as the buyer would be at a real risk of losing the property that you want to buy.

The bottom line is that the initial choice of lawyers is so important and one that is all too often given insufficient thought. It is very unusual for a customer to switch lawyers half way through a transaction, but it is always the choice you have and if it is a result of poor service then you could expect no charge or at least argue the point and report the complaint to a senior partner. Let's also remember that just because you are dealing with a solicitor or conveyancer you don't have to accept shoddy service. Customer is king and you should expect a good service with an approachable cooperative firm.

Most estate agents have great relationships with a variety of solicitors, so it will often pay to look at who they recommend and why. These days many estate agents earn referral fees from lawyers which in itself is not a problem since those fees are clearly disclosed in any quotes you receive. Lawyers introduced in this way often want to make sure they deliver a good service, so the provision of referrals is maintained by the estate agent.