‘Challenger’ conveyancing firm publishes data and claims to shave weeks off transaction times

Last week EYE published a piece by our regular columnist, Peter Ambrose, in which he talked about the length of time it takes for a property transaction to go through the conveyancing process.

Ambrose said: ‘…various Proptech offerings promote the concept that if everyone involved in a deal could access and automatically update the same checklist, this would solve this knotty progression problem.  We’d exchange properties in six weeks and life would be fabulous. Sadly, this flawed thinking is based on misunderstandings of the process, which does mean that we’re going to be stuck with 22-week exchanges for the foreseeable future. Which is not quite so nice.’

As a result of that piece, Etienne Pollard, the CEO of ‘challenger’ conveyancing company, Juno, got in touch to take issue with the idea of the market having to endure such long periods between agreeing a deal and exchange of contracts.

Pollard says that his company has a median time to exchange of 90 days – just under 13 weeks – and that they can back that claim with published data.

He wrote to EYE saying:

“We all want to help people move home faster, but right now it’s taking longer than ever. Or is it?

“Rightmove says it takes an average of 150 days from offer accepted to completion. And last week, Peter Ambrose wrote that “we’re going to be stuck with 22 week exchanges for the foreseeable future”.

“But [our] detailed performance data shows [us] achieving a median time to exchange of just 90 days post-offer on freehold purchases, and only 2 weeks more than that for complex leaseholds.

“So how can Juno get to exchange that much faster? And are there other firms out there with an equally good (or better) median time to exchange?

“As we all know, enquiries are what really slows down conveyancing. If it takes 22 weeks to reach exchange overall, then it will take the average conveyancer about 120 days to go from search results to exchange, assuming it takes 1 week to issue the memorandum of sale, and another 3 weeks to order and receive searches.

“In contrast, conveyancing challengers like Juno take 71 days from search results to exchange on the median freehold purchase.

“They achieve this by ordering searches without delay, raising enquiries geared towards speedy resolution, and working with agents to chase for replies every few days. Three simple things that make all the difference.

“We can’t really say with confidence which other firms achieve this kind of timescale to exchange, because nobody else publishes this kind of detailed data online. What we do know is that the expected timescales that many firms advertise are very optimistic, especially in today’s market.

“That’s why [I am] calling on other conveyancing firms to collect and publish their own performance data online, so that buyers and sellers can see for themselves which conveyancers really help people move home faster.”

The following are Juno’s graphs showing the firm’s performance in recent months.

If other conveyancing operations would care to share similar comparative data EYE would be pleased to hear from them: news@propertyindustryeye.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15 Comments

  1. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

    Fantastic!

    FINALLY someone has found the mettle to publish information about their exact workings. I support this initiative 100% – it’s up to technology-enabled firms like Juno and ourselves to lead the charge and demonstrate that you can have an impact.

    We will of course share our data with Property Industry Eye.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure how many firms actually have this data to hand but great place to start.

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  2. Emmersons46

    I can tell you precisely who achieved exactly the same figures/data. Every other conveyancing firm associated with the transaction.

    What’s more important than speed is quality. Conveyancing firms don’t exist to improve estate agents’ turnover but to ensure clients and lenders get what they bargained for.

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    1. Etienne

      100% agree with you that quality is the foundation on which conveyancing must rest. At the same time, if two conveyancers do an equally great job for the client (and their lender) on the legal work, but one of them takes 8 weeks less time to complete than the other one, then the quicker option is definitely better for the client.

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    2. MichaelDay

      Of course quality is essential but this is very difficult to measure as any failings don’t tend to come to light for several years when the client moves again. Reviews are a measure but often superficial and based on customer interaction (important) and not standard of the work undertaken. PI insurers will measure certain factors and introducers should certainly be seeking information about speeds, quality measures etc as much or more than size of referral fee.

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      1. Etienne

        Michael – you’re completely right about the importance of a strong track record.

        Our view is that we have to meet all of the criteria you listed – getting the legal work right every time, keeping clients and agents informed and up to date, and of course getting to exchange as soon as we can. Online reviews are not the only thing to look at, but they are certainly a measure of how well a firm communicates with its clients and their agents.

        Referral fees are also an important part of the mix for generating new instructions – like many other firms, we at Juno do pay them on completion to estate agents who send us clients – but as we all know that’s not sufficient to be chosen as the recommended firm. At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for transparency, speed and high quality legal work.

        — Etienne

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  3. #ImpressiveConveyancing

    Tech is way too often a smoke screen for giving it to mediocre conveyancers, as a substitute for being better at conveyancing.
    Instead, make sure your conveyancers are impressive! Then if they need more tech (they won’t as the best conveyancers I know are already sat exchnaged while the medicore lawyers are still using their tech toys) then fine.
    Demand better conveyancers, not better tech toys. Or we’ll all end up with medicore conveyancers simply using pointless fancy tech.
    Shave time off transactions, absolutely, but tech doesn’t address the legal errors which are constantly missed and created by mediocre conveyancers. Or the lack of any drive to use the tech properly which medicore conveyacers lack or their lack of incentive as they are paid badly or they have no career opportunities. Or they are simply not knowledgable enough in property law. Or they are not a person who is skilled to juggle 70+ clients, which only the very best conveyancers are.
    Quality. Not ‘fast’. Fast means errors.
    Be sat ready to exchnage in 2.5 weeks, but having not overlooked a single issue in the contract papers/searches/title. That’s the goal. Good luck using ‘Alexa’ to achieve that – ha ha ha  

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    1. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

      Seriously Tim?

      Take a moment to think about what you are actually saying here.

      That Microsoft Word does not help you produce a better Report on Title more accurately than a type writer?

      That using email makes you a poor lawyer rather than putting letters in the post?

      That using Excel to calculate completion statements rather than using calculator means you understand them less?

      Do you honestly think that technology is just a “toy”?

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      1. #ImpressiveConveyancing

        Word documents, Outlook emails, Excel (apportionment statements).

        Indeed.

        And constantly they contain bad law, errors and pointless enquiries.

        Focus on the quality of the actual conveyancer who is employed. Demand the best. Then hand them whatever tech you want to waste your conveyancing profit on.

        Until then, the rest of us will be forced to keep training the mediocre conveyancers of other firms who we face.

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  4. Does_Not_Matter

    After an awful experience with a traditional conveyancer who insisted on all paperwork through the post and never answering the phone, I used Juno for our second move after being referred to them by Habito.

    Habito were super fast, did everything online and were available 24/7, so I thought they would only recommend the best conveyancers, and I can confirm they did.

    Juno are absolutely fantastic, to the point I’ve used them a third time since, and recommended to all my friends, 2 of which have also now used them and been very happy. The difference between them and the traditional one is night and day. Nearly everything is done over email, you get replies very quickly and you can always call and get through to someone. They have experts available on the phone to take you through all the details of any outstanding queries etc and you never feel like you are bothering them. I can’t recommend them enough.

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  5. GreenBay

    Interesting that there is a lot of comment above about poor quality conveyancers and problems only becoming apparent when the purchaser comes to sell again.

    I sound like a broken record, but these comments from people who appear to be representing themselves as conveyancers, would suggest that the current process is not fit for purpose. We all agree it is slow and there are suggestions that the quality of the work from quite a lot of companies is not good enough.

    Therefore, technology most definitely is not going to cure the issues. The whole system needs to be taken apart and redone from a modern view point, not maintaining the status quo of systems that in may ways a solicitor from Victorian times would recognise.

    Come on, if you are in the industry, fight for real change, not just a redistribution of the deck chairs!!

     

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  6. SirLes

    Even if we ignore the very lazy opinion that Solicitors and Conveyancers are solely to blame for increase in Time to Exchange over a number of years.   I would say that the results would need more scrutiny

    Questions i would have is

    How do you account for the fact you have to work with the rest of the industry to get these results? Presumably not all your transactions are chain free or acting both sides matters?

    What size of pipeline are you working with?  Large Fluctuations in Days to Exchange happen if you have a smaller pipeline and would you publish if they went the other way?  What happened in the Q1,2,3

    What percentage of Leasehold to Freehold do you work with?  This added complexity to a caseload can slow down a Conveyancers caseload

    What data points are being used and are they the same ones as Rightmove?  When does Juno’s clock start ticking?  From Sales Memo or from when they receive Terms of engagement or contract pack?  All will make a huge difference

    Ordering Searches quickly, resolving enquiries quickly and having relationships with EA’s is not revolutionary new idea so i would suggest something else will be driving these results and would be good to understand.

    Point being Data can make it say pretty much anything you like if you take the right picture.  Over such a small time period I think anyone would want to see consistent over delivery based on the same data points for months/years otherwise your in danger of falling into the same “very Optimistic” category of other Conveyancing firms

     

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    1. Etienne

      There’s a much more detailed write-up on our website, with data broken down by tenure, case type, and a full explanation of the start and end point for timing of each phase.

      Although we act on both sides for a few transactions, more than 95% of our transactions involved another conveyancing firm. As to why we can get things done faster, the article linked above goes into a lot more detail – please have a read!

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      1. SirLes

        I understand getting defensive but i believe these were legitimate challenges.

        So its 4 simple things

        A shared Checklist and the ones quoted below

        “They achieve this by ordering searches without delay, raising enquiries geared towards speedy resolution, and working with agents to chase for replies every few days. Three simple things that make all the difference”.

        Take into account there isn’t a Conveyancing firm out there that doesn’t promise to order searches promptly, deal with enquiries in a timely manner and to have a good working relationship with EA’s.  Are we seriously holding up the checklist as the differentiator?

        I’ve read the website and the only additional things not mentioned in this article is not charging additional fees for SIM Ex transactions and offering Indemnity Policies as a way to get some enquiries out of the way which is again a standard practice.  No information answering any of my questions above.

        I also took a look at Juno’s Trustpilot score which is an impressive 4.8 with 658 reviews.  However only 4 are verified.  (i wouldn’t read those btw)

        Also noted silence on the point about data over a longer period of time?  I would have thought someone that is holding up this and transparency up as there main selling point would jump at the chance to evidence it further.

         

         

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        1. Etienne

          Hello SirLes! Sorry if I came over as defensive – definitely not the intention.

          I think the reason our TrustPilot reviews are not “verified” is because we don’t pay them for the expensive add-ons. However, I can assure you that they’re all completely valid, from real clients of Juno.

          You’re completely right that every firm promises to “order searches promptly, deal with enquiries in a timely manner and to have a good working relationship with EA’s”. I don’t think it’s my place to say whether or not other firms do those things – my point is rather that more data will help people judge based on outcomes, not assertions. As I said above, the data relates to Q4, although Q3 data isn’t much different, and we’ll keep it regularly updated as time goes on.

          With regard to enquiries, what I was quoted on in the article above is slightly different from what you wrote. To be clear, we try to write the enquiries we send in a way that makes it as easy as possible for the seller’s lawyer to provide a resolution with their first response. It doesn’t always work out that way, so we analyse the enquiries that do go back and forth multiple times, to work out what we can do better when we encounter a similar issue in future.

          And that’s really the most important thing – it’s only by making lots of small, repeated improvements that we can improve what we do. As Peter Ambrose wrote in his column, there are no silver bullets. Rather, continuous improvement based on data, and a constant desire to make things better every day.

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          1. SirLes

            Oh I wasn’t intimating they weren’t from satisfied clients but what verified from my understanding means your company has an automated process that TP have sight of that doesn’t have the ability to pick and choose who they ask for a review.
            I agree more data based on outcomes is great but its only great when you are able to compare apples with apples.  Unless data is the same and verified you have the danger of firms claiming anything.  I’m sure if a Conveyancing firm published a graph saying they did it on average 20 days quicker than Juno quite rightly you’d be skeptical.

            Agree with you re incremental gains but what will be interesting with the downturn in the market Conveyancers should have excess capacity.  That being the case everyone in the industry should have the ability to turn things round quickly.   That in turn should lead to a dramatic fall in time to exchange.  Hopefully that’s the case but if not I would suggest something else is also at play rather than the blame landing squarely at the Conveyancers/Solicitors door all the time.  (btw not something you’ve suggested)

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