More than six in ten buyers find their home on a portal – but few use online conveyancers

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.”

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  1. GPL

    24/7 tracking of the conveyancing process?
    What next, updates on how often your solicitor or agent takes a breath.
    Don’t get me started on this s£&?!  I have a busy day ahead!
    Pull my Chain indeed.

  2. Andy Halstead

    63% of those surveyed find their properties on a portal. This is because we advertise the properties that we sell and manage on the portals! This is done at astonishing cost and is not remotely sustainable. Remove the properties and the portals will become irrelevant. Easy to say I know and we have not taken this action with our own agency in Chester, we are building up the confidence to do so though………

    1. Property Pundit

      All that money and not even 2/3rds of people find their home there.

  3. GPL

    Spending time/effort on your own company’s website and effectively promoting it pays valuable dividends.
    A national portal is fast evolving into much more of a catch-all ad for the occasional wider enquiry, hence the exhorbitant monthly charging by RM becomes unsustainable as its effectiveness falls and the agents own local efforts deliver increasing value.    

  4. Woodentop

    Property web portals are going to die and possibly in not the distant future. Agents need to gear up on their own marketing, a revolution is looming? Consumers are able to search NOW for properties in their area without the need to go to one property web portal. Smart phones are smarter than many realise and the power to be even smarter. Your web presence is going to be your own web site and how it is integrated to the coming digital revolution. Think not, just type anything you want into google and see the results. It still needs refining but compare to what happened a only a few years ago and the continuing advance of technology (we now have emails that speak) it won’t be long before you can have a verbal conversation and order your perfect home? Beam me up Scotty!

  5. ARC

    I stopped reading at ‘quizzed 562 people’ that’s 0.04% of the possible demographic.

  6. The Future Is Tech

    6 in 10 find their property on a portal? Really what nonsense, it’s more like 98% of people start their search online.

    As for online conveyancers, if you have the cheapest price, theres a reason for it with these teams, and if you engage business with them, be warned that your sale will take longer because they are like a cattle market. Who cares about a 24/7 system when your sale will take many weeks longer

    1. PeeBee

      “6 in 10 find their property on a portal? Really what nonsense, it’s more like 98% of people start their search online.”

      WOW – that’s the highest ‘pick a number…any number’ plucked out of thin air yet!

      The truth – a truth that you won’t accept – is that nobody knows for certain what percentage of people start their search for property online.

      But you chucking in the lit firework that is 98% even beats the spurious claims of the portals AND the onlinies – two sectors of our industry that, without t’interweb, would simply cease to exist quicker than Diane Abbott can add up two and two to come up with the answer ‘nineteen’.  Or eleven.  Or… is it three?

      Suggest you pull up the publicly available figures of historic housing transactions – and then explain to us why you give so much credit to the internet for making “finding” property so much easier – yet the actual numbers sold have dropped substantially.

      To you (credit: Barry Chuckle)

  7. Property Pundit

    Really what nonsense, it’s more like 98% of people start their search online‘ Source please.


    Oh and it was a survey about finding property, not where you start your search.

  8. PeeBee

    “It found that 63% found their new home on a portal…”

    I would suggest that the vast majority of those 63% “found their new home on a portal” after seeing a board… a newspaper advert… receiving a call/email from an Agent… the list goes on – and then probably had to Google from there.

    It’s the same old: same old – ask someone how many legs does a three-legged donkey have, and you’ll get the answer you want most of the time.

    Does anyone ever see the actual questions asked in these half-a***d ‘surveys’?  My thoughts are that if they did, they wouldn’t be reported on…


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