Like the saying goes, “You Pay for What You Get”, or “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”. There have been many entities that have claimed to charge extremely low coneyancing legal fees at flat rate, and many have been tempted to try out these services.
At Loh Eben Ong, having a long history of more than 20 years, we pride ourselves in providing high quality legal service at reasonable rates. We do not proclaim that we are the cheapest nor the best, as it is not for us to judge ourselves.
In a free market, where there are many cut throat businesses eyeing for the same pie, it is not always the lowest price competitor that will survive in a tough market environment. Usually, the ones who survive economically are the ones that offer good quality services at reasonable rates, and have a good long term reputation.
So, in engaging a lawyer, say for a Conveyancing matter, should you engage the cheapest law firm that has been recommended by the Bank (your loan financier) or the Property Agent, or Loh Eben Ong? Of course, the choice is yours.
For example, when you go to a supermarket in Singapore to buy some apples, do you always buy the cheapest brand of apples? You probably look at its origin (country), the colour of the apples (probably, the reddest), the quality of the skin of the apples, the brand and the pricing. We are not saying that cheapest is always the worse, but just be discerning in your choice.
Let’s dissect a fictitious Singapore Conveyancing matter where a lawyer offered to charge a flat rate of $1,800 for a purchase of a condominium unit, with CPF Fund usage and Bank loan financing.
Let’s examine the expenses (excluding Ad Valorem Stamp Duties) to be incurred (all estimation/examples/not exhaustive (- / +) and subject to errors and rounded up to nearest next dollar):
- Title searches (x2): $32
- Solvency searches on Vendor and 2 Purchasers (x2): $45
- Legal Requisitions: $200
- Road line plan: $54
- Purchaser’s Caveat: $65
- Bank’s Caveat: $65
- MCST Certificate: $27
- Transfer Registration Fee: $69
- Mortgage Stamp Duties: $500
- Mortgage Registration Fee: $69
- CPF Lawyers Fee and Expense: $600
- Bank’s Fees on Cashier’s Order (x5): $50
- Other expenses: S80
Total Expenses: $1,856.00
Based on this fictitious example, the Conveyancing lawyer will probably make a loss, as there is no incentive for him to work for you, and probably an administrative staff is doing the work for you. Or there may be additional costs levied for additional items.
There may be instances of cutting corners just to make a little paper profit, say $200 to $300, which is in fact making a loss after taking into account of office rental, stationary cost and staff cost. The lawyer is also supposed to keep your Conveyancing file and documents for at least 12 years and that will incur storage cost for the lawyer.
Complaints of poor Conveyancing legal services include:
- “I am talking to a staff, no lawyer is prepared to speak to me”
- “I can’t get though to my lawyer”
- “I am not kept informed of my case, no correspondences were forwarded to me”
- “The matter is handled by a non-lawyer”
- “I can’t discuss the matter with anyone on the phone”
- “Nobody seems to be keeping me informed”
- “My lawyer probably cut corners”
- “No original documents have been given to me”
- “My lawyer messed up my case”