Fewer than 20% of home buyers use an online conveyancer, although the majority use the internet to find their property.
But while the national property portals “lead the way”, local estate agents remain key.
The new Residential Conveyancing Consumer Research Report 2019 quizzed 562 people who bought a property in the past two years.
It found that 63% found their new home on a portal, while the same proportion used a traditional conveyancer rather than a volume online firm.
Just 19% used such a service, and most of those were younger buyers. Only 10% of over-55s used an online bulk conveyancing service.
The researchers said: “Online may be the channel for property searches but online conveyancing services have yet to take a significant market share.
“There are mixed messages from the survey regarding online conveyancing services.
“A majority say that they are an important choice factor when looking for a conveyancer, but responses to a later question asking about possible improvements to the conveyancing process show only limited interest in these online services.”
The research also gave respondents 16 possible options to improve the conveyancing process.
The most popular choice, backed by 40%, was to make offers subject to contract legally binding. Almost the same proportion (39%) wanted defects in the property to be identified by the seller, not the buyer. A third (34%) wanted to see property log books introduced.
Asked about “additional services” over a third of consumers (37%) wanted 24/7 online access to keep track of their conveyancing case.
Surprisingly few recent buyers seem to have found their conveyancer via an estate agent, with 45% using a firm they already used, and 40% going on recommendation from friends, family and work colleagues.
Strikingly, almost all the respondents – 92% – paid their conveyancer a fixed fee.
Consumers generally rated their conveyancers highly, but the lowest satisfaction score – even so, 73% – was for communication on the progress of the transaction.
Most said they would use the same conveyancer again.
The research also found that the average conveyancing time from starting the case to completion was four months.
Sohail Rashid, of View My Chain, said of the research: “It’s still intriguing how online case tracking is still described as an additional service in the home buying and selling process.
“You can order a low value item such as taxis and books with mobile tracking and updates around dispatch, delivery times and arrival.
“The fact that most consumers are given no accessible tracking of the purchase or sale of their home is shocking.
“This is set to become more of an issue with over 55% of transactions now subject to a chain.
“Our data shows that the average chain size is three properties and that in some cases you can have 20 different suppliers involved in the transaction.
“It is not surprising that consumers find email, telephone and postal updates inadequate.”