Blog #12: All I want for Christmas is a perfect conveyancer!

As 2018 draws to its painful and long-awaited end, we’ve spent the last few weeks listening to Mariah Carey explaining what she wants for Christmas, and it set us thinking – as an agent, if you could define an ideal lawyer, what would that look like?

That said, we urge caution when speculating on such “perfect solutions”.

After all, until recently, many people thought they knew what a perfect estate agent looked like: they would charge only £795 (upfront obviously), everything would be online, properties would be listed on all the major portals and sold in a few weeks.

Whilst 2018 has taught us to be careful what you wish for, here are some of our ideas we think make up an agent’s ideal lawyer.

Ludicrously low caseloads

As we know, agents typically struggle to speak with lawyers: forced on hold for ages, leave messages that are never returned and suffer from horrendously slow turn-around times.

Usually this is caused by lawyers having caseloads of between 80 and 150 cases, and who don’t have viable case management systems and use paper files.

The ideal lawyer would only work on half a dozen cases at most – ideally, just those of the agent’s and no one else’s.

Live in the office

It’s fairly common that agents (and clients) can’t get hold of lawyers because they’re on holiday (obviously without letting anyone know in advance), “in a meeting” or the phones are switched off because it’s 5.01pm.

The ideal lawyer would never take holidays, throw unexpected sickies, would start work at 8am and finish at 8pm – and naturally, won’t turn the telephone off during lunchtime whilst they enjoy their lemon curd sandwiches.

Infinite experience

Given the lack of knowledge and expertise in the conveyancing industry, agents know only too well what happens when a novice case handler is running a transaction.

They raise dozens of enquiries “just to be on the safe side” and cannot give a straight answer to anything.

The ideal lawyer will have been doing this stuff for 30 years, never has to look anything up and can give answers without using Google.

Despite their many years at the coalface, our ideal lawyer would not suffer from the usual disillusionment, arrogance and bitterness that afflicts so many of the older legal profession, but will smile when answering an agent’s call and will be happy to spend 25 minutes explaining the finer points of an absent freeholder indemnity policy.

Take a view

With litigation tide continuing the rise, lawyers are becoming increasingly conservative and deferring to lenders and clients.

The perfect lawyer would never refer an issue to a lender and would always take a view on all contentious matters, whether it’s a £20,000 allowance or that the house had not been signed off by building control.

They wouldn’t bother raising any enquiries on a purchase and would happily sign contracts on behalf of their client just to get the deal through.

Locally situated

Rather than being holed up in some sweatshop in Southend, the ideal lawyer would be situated upstairs above the agent’s offices, so that agents could pop in and check up on progress on a case at any time.

This would also enable agents to make sure they the lawyers weren’t sneaking out early on a Friday for their obligatory round of golf, or if they said they were in a “meeting”, a quick trip upstairs would bust this myth immediately.

It would also help agents ensure clients didn’t make the mistake of using a traditional local high street lawyer, “so they can drop papers off to them”.

Obviously cheap

Finally, the ideal lawyer would charge fees of only £200 a case, a price which would make it easy for agents to convince their clients to use them.

Of all the requirements, this is probably the most achievable, because we know some panel-managed lawyers charge this today, although we have to remember their pimps add their cut to this – after all, they’ve got Range Rovers with darkened windows to buy and those things don’t come cheap.

Even though we know when it comes to lawyers even Mariah can’t make all your wishes come true, we do hope you have a fantastic Christmas and a happy new year.

2019 – bring it on.

* Peter Ambrose is founder of independent conveyancing practice The Partnership

x

Email the story to a friend

16 Comments

  1. smile please

    Peter demonstrating the attitude conveyancers sadly have.

    Not so much a chip on the shoulder but an entire sack of potatoes.

    Report
  2. ArthurHouse02

    And not a dig at panel conveyancers to be seen, that must be behind door 19

    Report
    1. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

      Whoa – hold on  – I ALWAYS get an anti-panel message in there … you obviously did not read all the way to the end !!

      Report
  3. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

    Ha!!

    Merry Christmas – surely I might be afforded a yuletide nod to a tongue-in–cheek piece to bring a bit of a smile to readers …

    Report
    1. smile please

      All you are doing in emphasising the gulf between conveyancers and estate agents. 
      I personally do not find it funny. It shows the snotty attitude sadly a lot of conveyancers have that agents need to deal with on a daily basis.
      As always conveyancers unable to work with agents and but up barriers. 
      Maybe pick your audience better, ‘Conveyancing industry eye’s? Given most here are estate agents.

      Report
      1. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

        I think agents and lawyers are quite capable of creating a gulf between them without any guidance from me!
        That was actually the point of the article – guess I didn’t make that clear enough.

        Report
    2. AgencyInsider

      Entertaining, and sensible as ever Peter. Merry Christmas!

      Report
      1. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

        Thank you!
        As I say … 2019 – BRING IT ON!!

        Report
        1. Local Independent

          This has to be either tongue in cheek introspection or a deeply paranoid rant.  I hope.

          Report
          1. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

            If you read my other articles you might get a steer on the answer to that question!

            Report
  4. mattfaizey

    All I want for Christmas….

    Enjoyable Article. However,

    There are @2000 firms dealing with conveyancing. If we presume (generously) there may be 2 persons per firm then given that we’re only floating at @800k completions per annum in England and Wales then this comes back to @50 ‘cases’ per quarter per person, or @15-17 per working week.

    I suspect the true number of individuals practicing is higher than my number above. So the caseloads mentioned I would suggest are utter piffle.

    Live in the Office

    Well, it’d be nice if lunch was foregone/taken later instead of allowing poor members of the public and hardworking removal men to just sit around, cold, bored, and homeless waiting for key release because their conveyancer is busy at Pret, munching and browsing facebook when they could simply be getting completion performed in a timely manner and not letting many others suffer needlessly.

    It would be nice if all conveyancer started working a 5 day week, instead we find over and over that only after instructed is the client informed ‘x’ works a 3 or 4 day week. Further delaying the chain…..

    And while you are in the office, chase your funds on properly. Yes, protocols allow you to sit back after pinging an email and say ‘job done’. IT ISN’T. Chase your clients money, by phone. Force acknowledgment. You are paid not just to complete on paper but to get your clients the keys. So, while you’re in that office, work a little harder in the proper fashion to benefit your clients day.

    EMPATHY

    All I want for Christmas are conveyancers to have empathy. To actually discuss moving home with their clients and LISTEN to their clients concerns, hopes and fears. The latest example of selfish, twattish idiocy came last week when a solicitor advised a very elderly couple who were prepping for a 4 hour drive to suffolk from the midlands to ‘stay in their home until completion has taken place, even though it could be as late as 5pm’ (yes, direct quote). It took the removal man to point out the stupidity and carelessness of the solicitors utterly stupid advice. Thankfully they listened to the mover and handed keys into agent @1pm and made their way over to the new home (in fact, their daughters where they were staying overnight), but rest assured, they were going to just sit there, as transaction six in a chain of seven. It’d be lovely if this was a ‘one-off’, sadly no. This type of blinkered advice gets dished out every day by those forgetting their clients are relocating their money, life, hopes, dreams, fears and livelihoods. That their clients physically move @4tonnes of furniture and effects. That these people deserve to complete and have their keys promptly so they can move in during an afternoon and not be knackered , stressed, tired and unhappy. And, by extension the staff that are moving them.

    They deserve proper notice of moving day, deserve solicitors / conveyancers who understand the effect short notice periods between exchange and completion has on mental health. That understand arranging childcare, time off work, and an entire home move is best done with a couple of weeks. Not less than five days, deliberately manipulated so the firm can charge extra.

    AN UNDERSTANDING THAT ULTIMATELY SERVICE DRIVES FEE’S

    Conveyancers that understand that over the medium term service drives fee and demand. It takes time and excellent service to drive reputation and fees higher. Sadly, as is demonstrated year in, year out and graphically in articles like the above, conveyancers havn’t a f*&6ing clue what good service is, nor how to describe it. They are however great at b!2ching like moaning minnies about how misunderstood they are, how little they get paid, and oh, how tough it is.

    For Christmas I’d like their profession to wake up and smell the coffee. It is the same for everyone. We’re working in the same field, them, agents, movers, all of us.

    For Christmas I’d like conveyancers to develop a long term service led strategy that identifies what stonking customer service looks like, act on it and then start earning more money as a result.

    For while articles like the one above, and the numerous ones before it by many EA’s and movers + the many more will continue to know that broadly, with very few exceptions conveyancers are, where service, client satisfaction, care, attention and earning potential are concerned thoroughly deaf, dumb, blind and ignorant.

     

     

    Report
    1. Local Independent

      Agreed!

      Report
    2. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

      Hi Matt

      You’re spot on with this and these are very fair comments.  The numbers issue is a tricky one because averages aren’t really appropriate.

      There are about 4000 firns doing conveyancing ( and shrinking ) but the market is VERY fragmented with many doing under 50 deals per year – dabblers as we like to call them.

      There is definitely a lack of understanding about the importance of service delivery – you need to look at the business owners to address this – this is where we believe the problem lies.

      But – other than that – very fair comments!

      Merry Christmas!

      Report
  5. Fairfax87

    Matt, spot on !     And I agree, the part time Conveyancer is becoming an increasing problem.

    I also don’t know what Peter seeks to achieve with these childish articles.

    New Year’s wish – no more of them PLEASE

    Report
    1. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

      Hi

      Thanks for the namecheck!

      You might be interested to learn that one of our first stories is the publication of the top 20 panel manager costs and and the corresponding fees that are paid to lawyers, based on some mystery shopping we’ve carried out over the past six weeks.

      We might publish it here but it’s more likely going to the consumer press – we’ll make a decision closer the time.

      Peter

      Report
  6. Simon Brown at The ESTAS

    I agree with a lot of what Peter and Matt have said.  The key for all property professionals whether conveyancers, agents or mortgage advisors is delivering great customer service. I

    Report
X

You must be logged in to report this comment!

Leave a reply

Thank you for signing up to our newsletter, we have sent you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Additionally if you would like to create a free EYE account which allows you to comment on news stories and manage your email subscriptions please enter a password below.