Opinion piece: Conveyancing needs to get a move on – and embrace technology

Henry Ford, of Ford Motors fame, once said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

He was talking about the early days of the motor car – but he could have been talking about the conveyancing industry.

This is because, if you ask a lawyer how to improve the way they carry out conveyancing, they will reply that “You can’t’” or “Just do it quicker” – ie get a faster horse.

In our experience, lawyers have hardly changed their approach to conveyancing in the last ten years – the only noticeable improvements being email use and ordering title documents and searches online. Hardly innovation.

As an agent, you might think this sounds like a “you” problem. However, it’s actually a “me” problem, because unless new approaches are adopted, transaction timescales will only continue to get worse. Which helps neither clients wanting to move nor agents needing deals to go through.

So why haven’t lawyers changed how they do conveyancing?

Firstly, let’s address the argument that it’s because they are an intransigent and difficult bunch.

It’s not always the case.

For example, given their key role is to minimise risk for their client and their lender (if appropriate), we have seen lawyers rapidly embrace technology to verify the bank details of lawyers to whom they send client money – a facility that has demonstrably reduced fraud risk.

That said, we do know that traditional solicitors often struggle to implement change.

Sadly, what is more disappointing is where new entrants merely repeat the same approach they have seen before.

Whilst they might actually implement case management systems, this is merely putting a new shade of lipstick on the conveyancing pig.

The reality is the majority still use paper files, still raise irrelevant enquiries that they then do not track and, most depressingly, still sign agreements with panel managers that result in unmanageable caseloads and poor service delivery.

In our experience, a key reason why lawyers haven’t changed their ways of working is because frankly, no one has bothered to take the time to understand how to address the challenges they face and develop effective technology for them.

The reality is that it’s vital for lawyers to change, before clients and agents start voting with their feet.

Clients are becoming accustomed to the convenience and sophistication of modern online services, so their expectation of slick and transparent service delivery will only increase.

Financial pressure will continue to mount on agents.

The latest government plans to reveal the impact of disproportionate referral fees typically charged by panel managers, will start to influence which lawyers they recommend in an increasingly competitive market.

Unfortunately, even where lawyers do try and change, the technology available today is limited at best. The adoption of new processes requires decent software – for example, electronic communication only became accepted with the implementation of effective and functional email clients.

Despite the crying need for innovation, software vendors continue to roll out basic case management systems that demonstrate little understanding of conveyancing and few efficiencies beyond mail merging template letters.

There are a number of areas where technology can have a significant impact on the speed and efficiency of conveyancing.

After all, when a story makes the news that a law firm has implemented a “revolutionary” online client data entry form, we know the industry has some catching up to do.

Clients, lawyers, agents and mortgage brokers will all benefit from case-tracking portals (that are actually up to date), automated title analysis, optical character recognition for interpreting leasehold management information packs, machine-learning based systems for anticipating issues, integrated and shareable enquiry management, analysis of mortgage lender handbook requirements, and of course, effective caseload management.

This will reduce the risk, time and pain involved and will lead to reduced transaction times and less stress for agents, lawyers and clients alike.

A word of caution. As long as lawyers continue to use excuses such as “blame the chain”, change will not happen. It does not have to be this way.

For example, we are working with a supplier who has developed a technology designed to eliminate delays in transferring money between buyer and seller.

If it is adopted widely, this has the potential to significantly improve the completion process, irrespective of whether or not everyone in the chain is using it.

Changing the mechanism of how conveyancing is done will need people to start asking the right questions.

To come back to Mr Ford, because even if a horse could run at 70 miles per hour, you really wouldn’t want to use one to get you from London to Manchester on an icy Wednesday.

* Peter Ambrose is founder of The Partnership

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40 Comments

  1. mattfaizey

    Technology isn’t the issue.

    The issue is that broadly conveyancers are selfish b8st8rds.

    Not considering that their clients would like clear explanations

    Not considering their clients emotions, obligations and lives. Specifically where timescales and notice are concerned.

    Failing to empathise, acknowledge and then act to stop their clients not knowing how moving day should work and leaving their clients sat in cars/homeless for hours because they fail to ensure key release in a timely fashion.

    Being utterly hypocritical. Many with employment contracts mandating minimum notice periods for time off and who wouldn’t dream of giving their employers just a few days notice that need time off yet seem to think ensuring their client only has >5 days Inbetween exchange and completion totally cocking up notice periods and planning time is acceptable. Hence being the cause of the main point of stress.

    Failing to explain to clients that completion dates are worthless without exchange.

    Coming out will bullpoo to justify their pointless practices, such as drawing mortgage funds down on completion day, or refusing to exchange until mortgage funds are in.

    And many, many more selfish practices that are way way away from truly acting in their clients best interests.

    And going for lunch while their client is waiting to get into their new house.

    Oh, and the cheapie production line conveyancers now attempting to give themselves even more latitude to be slow, sh1te and selfish by requesting there be no completion time in the contract. Which is a recipe for utter chaos resulting in people needlessly being rendered homeless.

    Has there ever been a ‘profession’ so cheapened and manipulated by firms and people intellectually, and educationally deficient at any point in living memory?

    Technology?

    Only if that technology identifies selfish Muppets and electrocutes them

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    1. forwardthinker

      HEAR HEAR!

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    2. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

      This a very depressing snapshot of how the industry is seen, isn’t it.

      I think the core problem is there is no accountability or transparency as to when the issues that you raise (most of them are very valid) occur and how this is being highlighted.  The underlying point of my article is that too many accept the status quo and accepted way of doing things.

      Amongst those the in industry who genuinely care there is a crying need to involve those that can effect change – regulators, agents, brokers and associated service providers – what about establishing an anonymous online feedback (like the sadly missed “Solicitors From Hell” website where offenders and offences can be named and shamed.

      Let’s face it, those with vested interests in protecting the status quo are not going to help are they…

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      1. smile please

        Peter,

        The problem is most solicitors really do not care. They certainly do not care about creating a working relationship with other professionals be it agent or movers.

         

        Of course there are exceptions to the rule, we have a solicitor we refer business too but if i am being frank he is the best of a bad bunch.

         

        Sending an email for enquiries and then just waiting until the otherside respondes is just not proactive and should not be accepted in 2019.

         

        I currently have a sale going through agreed start of October, cash buyer buying a freehold house no chain, just a single property Buyer desperate to get in, seller desperate to offload. as of today still not exchanged! 4 months!!!

         

        This is despite myself, the buyer and seller chasing solicitors. Neither of the solicitor firms involved are ‘Bucket Shops’ supposedly reputable established firms.

         

        Oh and was last sold 10 years ago so all titles etc are available and the property itself in unencumbered.

         

        Its a complete joke the legal world is in.

         

        You get agents on here time and again trying to work with solicitors and point out the very obvious issues and attitudes but you and others are happy to pop your head in the sand.

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    3. Local Independent

      Has there ever been a ‘profession’ so cheapened and manipulated by firms and people intellectually, and educationally deficient at any point in living memory?

      Online agency? But I agree with the post!

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  2. ArthurHouse02

    In my opinion its not technology that the problem its motivation. Solicitors/Conveyancers have to want to do things more efficiently and proactively. Technology wont all of a sudden make a solicitor deal with a file that has been sitting on their floor for 2 weeks.

    Just like with selling property, technology enables good quality people to do their job more efficiently, but it has no impact on those that are not very good at their job……the picture is far bigger than technology.

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    1. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

      I agree that pure technology is absolutely not a silver bullet to success – I think that agents have seen this comprehensively proved this over recent months …
      However – if technology can eliminate key elements of the bottlenecks that I have identified, then this will reduce the reliance on individuals – as you say, those that ignore the “Fishy” files as they are called.  
      Cos let’s face it – given that the current most popular method to address service issues is to outsource to other countries, I’m not exactly sure that just using another (albeit much cheaper) human being is a step in the right direction.

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  3. Rob Hailstone

    Most property lawyers I know (thousands) give a fixed fee quote so most would like a quick, simple transaction. But most will not cut corners if their clients (yes clients plural, as a lender is often involved) are likely to be exposed to unnecessary risk.
    Most property lawyers would love a ten (working) day period between exchange and completion.
    Most property lawyers I know, work early mornings, late evenings and weekends.
    Most property lawyers receive thank you cards and gifts from their clients.
    None of the property lawyers I know are selfish b8st8rds.
    However, the process is at times, cumbersome. Technology will help, as will improved systems, processes and procedures. More firms are now embracing new technology and the systems, processes and procedures are being examined closely and will be changed (improved) over the next 12 months or so.
    I produce a twice weekly bulletin that contains questions from ‘coal face’ conveyancers. That bulletin has been in existence for over 5 years now and hardly ever has a question been repeated. I have been in the conveyancing business for over 40 years (at the ‘coal face’ for 30) and many of the questions are new to me! The rules and regulations that property lawyers now have to follow have increased ten-fold over the last 20 years or so.
    Matt you pack boxes, pick up boxes and drive for a living. Let’s swap roles for a week? Yes, my aging body would ache but, on the whole, your job would get done. Put you in a conveyancer’s office and not one client would move home this decade.

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    1. NAL4726

      Having worked for each side of the coin, both the agent and the conveyance could of course both make some improvements but technology is not necessary the key. The reality is agents have used the conveyance as a referral and most agents, having signed these contracts myself for large corporate, take the majority of the fee from the solicitor. Hence the rise in what is commonly termed as the conveyance bucket shops, which are part of the problem as a lot are offshore and not fit for purpose, but what choice does a conveyance firm have with such a small fee?

      An actual Freehold conveyance is relatively simple, yes chains etc can hold it up but the average time with no issues is circa 2 hours on the file.

      If agents stop raping the referral fee for themselves, the whole conveyance process in the business will improve and pipelines may start completing within the good old 90 odd days turnaround. Taking a large referral fee and expecting a good service are not one of the same.

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  4. mattfaizey

    Oh bless,

    Rob is patronising me.

    Rob, my days are spent mainly managing equity and property investments, and also running a moving and storage company.

    Don’t let the facts get in the way though.

    None so blind as those that will not see.

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    1. mattfaizey

      How many Bold group members charge a separate fee when exchange happens within 5 or 7 days of completion?

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    2. Rob Hailstone

      I am not patronising you Matt, just pointing out you have no idea of what a property lawyers working day, or a conveyancing transaction actually involves, even the “easy” ones. The job has changed drastically over the years. The legal work involved now is usually far less than it used to be (but not always!). It is all of the sundry bits that now exist that cause many of the delays and frustrations.

      Well done you spending your days “managing equity and property investments.” I spend most of my days trying to help improve the home buying and selling process. Now I am patronising you.

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      1. mattfaizey

        Patronise away.

        You’ve never been capable of empathy with the public who get shafted. All you’ve ever done is ignore it and pretend it doesn’t happen.

        So, those additional fees for exchanging within say 5 days of completion, how many Bold members charge it?

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        1. Rob Hailstone

          Crikey Matt, you do have some issues. Back in the day, I personally helped over 10,000 people move home and I have never been accused of a lack of empathy. Quite the opposite in fact.
          You have attended at least one of the Home Buying and Selling Group meetings and hopefully you can see that there are a number of genuine people who are trying to make improvements. However, I will raise the question at the next meeting as to whether or not someone who publicly uses the phrase “broadly conveyancers are selfish b8at8rds” should be allowed to attend. It indicates a vitriol and hatred that can never be overcome and a mindset that is unlikely to be constructive. In fact, your very presence could turn out to be destructive.
          To answer your repeated question: How many Bold Legal Group members charge a separate fee when exchange happens within 5 or 7 days of completion? I have no idea. But I know for a fact the majority will do all they can to convince their clients that a longer period between exchange and completion is usually better and safer and in some cases cheaper.
          This constant unprofessional bickering has to stop. I will now double my efforts to try to make sure that the home buying and selling process is improved (for all concerned), sooner rather than later.

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  5. J1

    There is a very simple solution to the conveyancing bottleneck and it involves both clients and conveyancers.

    Conveyancers need to start charging properly, and staffing up.  £1000 per transaction would be the benchmark I would suggest.

    Clients need to be persuaded to take risks.  Pay for the searches and commission them when they pay for the survey.

    Yes they will lose money if the transaction fails; but how many fail because of the frustration caused by delays?

    Risk a little, gain a lot.

    Perhaps a sellers indemnity might be a good idea too.  Money to cover a buyers costs if they can’t find somewhere to move to or pull out?

     

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    1. smile please

      Spot on.

      Charge more, invest more.

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    2. mattfaizey

      This is true, but,
      I went through similar @10-12 years ago in response to the recession.
      It is one hell of a gamble to be ‘the one’ who just accepts the expense and zero profit making of the lengthy period where you work to absolute excellence while sticking yourself on a pedestal in the hope (sometimes desperate hope) that the turning point will come when the tipping point of recommendations arrive.
      It takes a long time of operating like this for zero financial reward before you reach the point that your level of service is so, so far above anybody elses that future customers expect you to charge more, and so you do.
      It is a monstrous leap of faith. 

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      1. smile please

        You are right Matt,

        BUT, i forget the exact figure i think its 80% of solicitors work comes from referrals from estate agents.

        I for one would happily pass all my sales and purchases through to a conveyancer that actually does the job they are suppose to in a timely manner.

        I achieve circa 70% penetration when tying up a deal with solicitor referrals. They do not care about cost (within reason) they take my recommendation.

        This is what is so ridiculous. Estate agents basically feed solicitors, we also look to help them progress a sale. But the vast majority treat us that we are beneath them and feels like the actively work against us.

        If i had the time i would qualify as a conveyancer as i know i can do a damn sight better than most on the service side of things.

         

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  6. tariqmubarak

    Simple solution to what ails conveyancing – take the emotion & risk out of it.

    Until you can do that, expect conveyancing to limp along.

    Divorce and probate are the 2 other high risk / high emotion legal practice areas (according to the Legal Ombudsman). Online divorce & probate (instigated by the MOJ) will reduce the stress levels there. The Land Registry can do the same with conveyancing, perhaps adopting the Scottish & Australian models using blockchain technology. Tinkering with the existing system will merely prolong the issues. The technology already exists to eliminate the need for estate agents and conveyancers alike but society isn’t quite ready to adopt this leap forward. So conveyancing limps along.

    I concur with the OP, there isn’t any one good piece of off the shelf tech/CMS that is entirely fit for purpose. The only solution is to invest in a bespoke bit of kit – but that would need a very profitable conveyancing business to make that level of R & D spend, even with govt. or local govt. subsidies. Thin margins eliminate that prospect so conveyancing limps along.

    The oddest thing about estate agents & conveyancers – both need each other but both loathe each other. If only we could simply terminate the relationship/dependency with the ease and speed of an online divorce. Or perhaps, we can’t or shouldn’t – so conveyancing limps along.

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  7. Alan Murray

    I have worked as a conveyancer for in excess of thirty five years. I can honestly say standards within the profession have never been lower, and all I hear is that technology is the way forward. Believe me it is not.  In my honest opinion we would be better off in some respects if we went back to some of the processes in place when I started work. Like training staff for one, radical I know!

    The biggest flaw with the quest to bring in new technology is the fact that no matter how good that tech is, it is only as good as the person operating it. Which given the lack of experience and expertise in the profession these days, is likely to be very poor indeed. I find the firms I come across who boast about their technological prowess the most are usually the ones who have poorly trained staff who are clearly working to ticksheets which need to be completed in full before they can proceed to the next stage, or hand the file to the next person in their chain of command.

    In reality were I a customer or introducer considering using a “high-tech” firm I would be very wary about why they were pushing that “asset” as a USP. In reality I would suggest that it is just another way of saying they invest all their resources away from staff training and let the tech do the job, and they are hoping that lack of knowledge and expertise within their conveyancers can be covered up by a “bells and whistles” conveyancing package. The reality being that it cannot.

    Those of us with experience and expertise obtained that over many years without the need of artificial aids, and there is no substitute for competence and no quick way of finding a shortcut to do this job. Call me a luddite if you wish but technology will, at least I hope, never replace good old fashioned knowledge and expertise, and there are a good many Firms out there who can be used to prove that statement.

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    1. mattfaizey

      The actual moving day experience on its own bears out what you have written.
      Key delays are the same now as in 1999.
      They’re the same too as 1994.
      So, despite the PC, windows, mobiles, instant messaging, modern banking, email, as just a start point the poor public still many people simply dont get key release swiftly.
      Desperately in need of revolution is this process,

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  8. smile please

    Just for a bit of sport as we have a thread on our favourite people, today’s latest issue.

    Sale in hand three months, buyers solicitor has not returned a single phone call or email during this period. 2 emails, 2 phone calls every week for 12 weeks.

    Again, not a ‘Bucket Shop’ but apparently an incredibly busy London solicitor who is ALWAYS in meetings.

    This is not a rare occurrence, this is the daily sh1t estate agents have to deal with and then its us that get it in the neck when the sales take forever and a day and we are unable to get meaningful updates.

     

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    1. mattfaizey

      ^ this, 
      too common

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  9. mattfaizey

     
    Rob
    You accuse me of having issues? The man who has just displayed an astonishing level of snobbery, and ignorance questioning my level of education because you think I work as a removal man, and more importantly insulting just about everyone who works within my sector?
    You respond by playing the man and not the ball. Moreover are completely incapable of actually disproving any assertion I have made about the issues facing the public (and movers).
    This isn’t the first time either.
    I haven’t bickered Rob. You may wish to re-read what I have written.
    Moreover I have never written that conveyancing is easy and challenge you or anybody to find such words by me. I do however stand by every assertion I have made that broadly the actions of individuals who fail to get their client into their new home timely, and fail to properly look after the client and offer a stressfree experience are indeed self1sh b8st8rds – yes.
    Leaving people sat in cars homeless while the conveyancer has gone to lunch is selfish.
    The conveyancer who only draws mortgage funds down on the day of completion and then blames ‘the banks’ for why an entire chain is late into the afternoon is selfish – yes.
    The conveyancers who deliberately stress their clients by refusing to exchange before they are in receipt of mortgage funds ensuring the client only has 3 or 4 days certain notice they are moving, they too are selfish – yes.
    The conveyancer who fails to tell their clients they only work a 3 day week, and cause delays – yes, selfish.
    The conveyancers who tell their client to stay in the old house until they have completed on the new one despite the new home being 90minutes away – selfish, yes.
    That thousands of people end up paying moving companies waiting time for all the reasons above and more – yes, selfish.
    That many people move without their partner present because they didn’t have enough notice to get time off work – selfish yes.
    The conveyancer who deliberately engineers a last minute query 8 days before completion so they can push the exchange into the 5 day window and therefore secure an extra fee – Selfish B8stard.
    Conveyancers who sit back despite knowing their clients funds may have landed at 11:00, and instead of chasing up for a swift completion instead sit back and ‘wait for an email’ from ‘accounts’ (cos that’s just what they do), and when that email finally arrives at 14:15 tells the clients they were ‘waiting for the money’. After the client has been sat in a boiling car with angry cat and kids for 3 hours – needlessly.
    and the 25000 removalist staff around the country (one of which I am not anymore) who spend 2,3,4 hours sat, with their clients, simply waiting to get the front door open. Those staff who, sometimes only at 4pm get the go-ahead to start moving 4.5tonnes of furniture and personal effects in, for customers who by this point are totally fed up and tired because their day is already wrecked. Those staff who in the summer may face this for 4 or 5 days a week. Unfairly. Through no fault of their own.
    There’s more, lots more.
    Yes, I do have an issue Rob, it’s this,
    Good People are getting shafted by selfish B’strds.
    And, you, you chose to belittle those people in in your derogatory, belittling, snobby and shameful post earlier.
     

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    1. mattfaizey

      If you do wish to respond by having a pop at my industry do let me know and I’ll write it for you Rob. I am even more critical of ‘my end’ of this process.

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  10. Hillofwad71

    Well just selling a property where the solictor acting for the buyer  responds to an email  by letter and conducts business on a  face to face with his client.

    Still none the wiser dont know if I will be handing the keys over ! At last they are cash buyers. LOL

    Letter received by  my sol !

    “Thank you for your email of 25th January. We believe that our clients may wish to exchange Contracts and complete their purchase on Friday, 1st February. We shall contact you once we have interviewed XXXXXX on Friday, 1st February.”

     

    Glad there is no need for a removal van as its stone empty!!!

     

     

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    1. mattfaizey

      lack. of. empathy ^

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  11. Hillofwad71

    Latest

    Just received this “Elephant on the line delay” response from the buyer direct having asked them yesterday  asking whether they are on for Friday?

    “Hi  sorry for the late reply. This is the plan although my Internet is down and transferring the money to the client account is a bit tricky. Hope to have it sorted by tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted. ”

     

    LOL What do you reckon my chances are 10-1?

     

     

     

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  12. htsnom79

    Late to the thread and missed all the quality bickering, however somebody ( conveyancer ) referenced 2 hrs file time for a straightforward freehold sale or purchase, I can spend that relationship building ( unpaid ) to get work, the conveyancer already has the work:

    2 hrs file time.

    Searches 3 weeks ( my patch )

    Mortgage offer 2-4 wks

    Something’s off when it takes a third longer to complete than when I started in this industry

     

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  13. TwitterSalisPropNews53

    Totally agree ArthurHouse02, technology is a 100% red herring. We already have instant IT – email – but it is so infrequently used by too many conveyancers. Give a mediocre conveyancer the best IT, and they are still a mediocre lawyer, now with the best IT.
    And yet conveyancers are being targeted with sales of IT software this and that, from the highest levels, as a distraction from the real culprit – the quality of the conveyancer allowed to offer the service. You can badge up the office cleaner and put them to work as a conveyancer. Nothing stopping it – a real scandal. 
    To quote (the whole thing ideally, but only a snippet) Alan Murray’s post: ” I can honestly say standards within the profession have never been lower”   
    The poor quality of a conveyancer results in 60% of my file being the chasing of another law firm, because too many will not treat their client’s home move as if it were their own. I too feel there is a severe lack of care/interest etc. I just do not get what goes through the heads of too many conveyancers. 2019 is worse than 2018. I have to blame the heads of conveyancing teams for taking any CV and not offering their clients better. For entering into referral contracts with estate agents where both know the legal service is shocking.
    (We are generalising, by definition, as we are talking about conveyancers generally, so of course there are lots of exceptions, but I continue to rant about facing too many mediocre conveyancers, on my time, my clients time and the estate agents’ time, the latter of whom have so far ploughed a lot of effort in, and now the conveyancers barely keep hold of the baton. It’s the ’too many’ we need to tackle.)
    If a conveyancer took their next file and imagined it was their own, the quality of the legal work would be excellent (or they would realise they are not good enough and need to pass it to a colleague who is) and the pace would be pronto. They would not close it until they had taken it as far as they could pending third parties doing their bit.
    SmilePlease – “Of course there are exceptions to the rule, we have a solicitor we refer business too but if i am being frank he is the best of a bad bunch.” – send your customers my way then, try just one. Be interested to see if we impress you

    FALLACIES – with some comments already made:
    1. “broadly conveyancers are selfish b8st8rds” – spoken by someone who just doesn’t know what a conveyancer does. ‘Too many’ are like that, sure, but 5 can be too many, not broadly. Nothing is broadly negative about conveyancers.
    2. “the average time with no issues is circa 2 hours on the file.” – scary if true as what was missed, how regularly and detailed updates did you give client and estate agent, how brief a report to your client on the legal papers

    3. An actual Freehold conveyance is relatively simple” – I so wish they typically were, instead we so often face unlawful building works, missing access rights, something the seller has done they should not have done during their ownership, breached covenants, or the previous conveyancer missed something as they too thought the freehold purchase was ‘relatively simple’
    4. “80% of solicitors work comes from referrals from estate agents.” – what!? That would shut them down at a moment’s notice. My Firm? My guess is 10%. Most is client repeat and client recommendation 
     
    5. “we also look to help them progress a sale” – I am witnessing a widening disparity between estate agents over the last 2-3 years as commissions are squeezed lower and lower. Those who absolutely help conveyancers progress a sale, and those who won’t get involved the moment a lawyer starts the legal work. Very odd attitude, when it is the estate agent’s own deal they put together.
     
    6. “take the emotion & risk out of it.” – don’t follow at all
     
    7. “this is the daily sh1t estate agents have to deal with” – I agree I bet you face lots of that as my Team find……but to be balanced, how many estate agents have a conveyancer call/email and ask:
    – have you gone live on Rightmove yet
    – have you given our client feedback on each viewing
    – have you followed up a viewing to chase down possible wavering interest
    –  you’ve had 16 weeks and no sale, what is the reason for the delay

    8. “removalist staff” – they are not all immune from criticism either – all should include insurance for delayed completions in their fees so they can stay with or work with the customer who is blameless

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  14. mattfaizey

    The whole insurance for delays misses the point completely.

    Here is an email I have just written to someone who emailed me as a result of this thread.

     

    Past caring.

    Older Lady into ‘x’ Close in Knowle, Solihull yesterday;

    Keys 4pm.
    Instead of a nice sensible smooth move into her new home (over @3 hours) I have no choice but to send another crew in to help. So, her sensible, slow move in is now completed in 90 minutes.

    She is happy with us-yes. That isn’t the point however. She was tired. She was late. She had been sat round being worn down by stress.

    She should have had a nice move in by @4pm. Instead she was worn down and then moved in fast.

    We know why.

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  15. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

    This thread has a bit of an Anchorman car park fight seen about it “well that escalated pretty quickly..” so I thought I’d come back on the comments.
     
    The point of the article was not to cane lawyers – that’s way too easy. In much the same way that people have a go at agents – again – easy target.
     
    The point I am making is that the legal industry is held back by unchanged thinking from both the management of conveyancing departments (spot on TwitterSalis) who show no imagination whatsoever through to those companies that should be helping them with good software because they are not.
     
    I should stress that this is not anecdotal speculation on my part.  I have both seen the majority of software on the market and interviewed and recruited many many people who have found their job almost impossible due to it.
     
    To those people who disagree that technology is not the answer, but I have to disagree 100%.  Yes – a lazy incompetent person cannot become an efficient and constructive client advocate but if we replace large elements of what they do by technology they become much more measurable and certain elements of the process will become quicker.
     
    If you want a contemporary example of the impact of smart (and I use that word carefully) technology solving tricky issues – look at the Brexit and Trump campaigns now widely credited as being due to smart use of technology.
     
    Conventional wisdom about technology not affecting “professions” – yes – I agree that the way conveyancing companies employ and [don’t] train novices is appalling – is optimistic at best.

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    1. Alan Murray

      “If you want a contemporary example of the impact of smart (and I use that word carefully) technology solving tricky issues – look at the Brexit and Trump campaigns now widely credited as being due to smart use of technology.”

       

      Hardly the most positive examples to draw on to make a claim as to how technology is a good thing?

       

      “To those people who disagree that technology is not the answer, but I have to disagree 100%.  Yes – a lazy incompetent person cannot become an efficient and constructive client advocate but if we replace large elements of what they do by technology they become much more measurable and certain elements of the process will become quicker.”

      So pretty much as I alluded to what you are saying is that technology is a cheap substitute for taking on the correct experienced staff in the first place? And no it still will not make the process quicker if that person operating the technology does not know the reason he is ticking the boxes and pressing the buttons he has been asked to action. Far better to employ the right person in the first place. It’s not rocket science.

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  16. dvnbiker

    Let me address several points as quite frankly I am sat here seething at the suggestion that conveyancers are selfish.  Yes there may be some that are but currently I am working 10-12 hours per day so that I can provide my clients with the personal service that I have done for nearly 20 years and oh yes, I also work weekends on a regular basis. I work for a firm that prides itself on that personal service to clients, so every single one of my clients is treated as if they were a good friend or a member of my family moving.

    Technology can only assist a little.  It is frustrating when we are dealing with everything by email, (other than those times when only a wet signature will do or if the client wants communication by post, and yes we do ask them as part of the personal service) and the other firm does everything by letter.  Enquiries is where we come unstuck, firms not wanting to work together and yes the online solicitors are the worst, employing people with little experience and knowledge.

    We do not pay referral fees, never have and never will.  We do get referrals from estate agents but that is because they like working with us! I still have firms of estate agents recommending me from when I worked in another county.

    As to the charging an extra fee if exchange and completion happen within 5 days is ridiculous – we have never charged this and I cannot see any circumstance that we would charge.

    Conveyancers do need to move with the times; reporting to a client as soon as the Contract pack arrives rather than waiting for the search results to come in, enquiries to be answered and the mortgage offer to arrive.  it is too late if the client then doesn’t like a covenant.  We report early and then report regularly in a piecemeal fashion.  clients love this and it keeps them engaged and also means that there are no great periods of time when nothing is happening.  We regularly find by working in this fashion that we are nearly always waiting for the rest of the chain to catch up with us.  We have no control on how other conveyancers work!

    So instead of coming onto a topic like this and being downright discourteous and rude why don’t we all try and work together to try and make it better!

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  17. 1925

    Why is it that as soon as technology is mentioned the distractors come out of their little box and begin to spout nonsense.  Technology is a facilitator, it doesn’t profess to be the sole solution to everything that might be right or wrong with the conveyancing system.  The use of technology does not turn a poor conveyancer into a good one. It’s there to be used to increase efficiency within the business,  to make conveyancing transparent and to facilitate enhanced communication. So not lets rubbish those who are looking to use technology to make the best of what is an archaic process over which nobody involved has very little control.  Yes, they do it to improve the small margin in conveyancing ( far less than the margin enjoyed by most estate agents), but they also make this not insignificant investment to enhance the service they provide to their clients. Rather than belittle their efforts, the doubters should look and learn, and applaud.   The problem is that there still exists a large section of the property industry that does not like change and still clings to the traditional way of delivering services. These are the folk who look to talk down online estate agencies and who view  any conveyancer who offers an online service to their clients as a ‘conveyancing factory’.  As I say, they don’t like change, they are scared of change, and are terrified of being left behind.  But hey they will never admit it  – all they will do is whine and complain, and point to to the use of technology as an indicator of a poor service provider.   Sorry, but as the late Steve Jobs said : ‘Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower’.
     
    Turning now to the utter rubbish I am reading on how  poor conveyancers are,  can I remind the agents who are making these mindless comments that perhaps it might help to speed up transactions if agents refrained from stirring emotions between the parties and playing them off against each other.  The typical  agent has not got the client’s best interests at heart, the agent is only interested in moving from A to B as quickly as is possible so that the commission cheque can be picked up.   This type of agent also has no understanding of how conveyancing operates ( and has no inclination of learning ) and believes every conveyancer in the land has a magic wand that can be waved whenever the agent says jump. I am sorry, but if agents are looking for respect they need to learn how to earn it.   Most agents are rude and will slag you off to your competitors if you refuse to help them.  I know of  three local agents who actively turn clients away from a 5 star conveyancing business because the agent does not like the way the conveyancing business works. In other words they  gain more money if they  refer work to their pet conveyancers.  Hardly in the clients best interests?  Oh yeah, its in the agents best financial interests! 
     
    I call upon all conveyancers to take a stand against this type of agent.   Don’t provide updates when they call every day, don’t collect and pay their fee on completion helping them in the process with their cashflow and finally don’t recommend them to family and friends.  If I was an agent ( heaven help me ) I would want to keep all of my local conveyancers happy and would want to work with them all rather than a select few.  All stakeholders are required to work in a system which cries out for reform and should be looking to work together rather than take every opportunity to apportion blame.    I can only but hope the room will start to fill  with some grown up people very soon. 

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  18. Anthonyw

    Hi 1925,

    very well put. I have become disheartened on pie for some of the reasons you have so eloquently highlighted above. I don’t understand why there is so much bad feeling between posters on here. It is as if things are deliberately being stirred up. There are good and bad in every industry and profession, it isn’t right to make such sweeping and insulting statements.

    Whether it is estate agency, conveyancing or something else it needs a mix of both good people AND technology. I understand that technology needs to be improved (same issues in estate agency) there is some good and bad stuff. We are part of the problem though because we all say we need change and we need this and that, but look at how new ideas and attempts to bring in or do anything new are treated on here, they are shot down badly. How must that make those who are actually trying to make a difference feel?

    Also, how many of us actually work with the techs who are trying to help us? How many times have you been approached by companies saying they have brought out a new product or service and just batted them away or ignored them? I know we have. I could make loads of excuses for this that we are too busy, or oh not another x, y or z … Maybe we should give them each a chance and work with them to help us get what we want and need? Most offer these products and services for free initially or for a low fee so it is only a little of our time we have to give up to see if their solution has potential to help change things for the better.

    You only have to look at the most recent post on here about Rightmove fees to see how dire things are – every agent slagging them off but none of them prepared to give alternatives a go. Instead they are bouncing around the 3 portals that they claim are no better.

    If people are seriously unhappy with how things are then they should be part of making change happen and help (rather than shoot down) those who are trying their best. Also, we all need to work together on this as we are all part of the process that buyers and sellers want to see improved

     

     

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  19. Rob Hailstone

    Bit late coming back to this thread but one thing I must clarify Matt. I did not question your level of education. I said (admittedly, if I were a few years younger) that I could probably pick up (excuse the pun) your job easier than you could pick up becoming a conveyancer. For all I know you could have qualifications galore. I am not a snob, I don’t lack empathy and I would never intentionally belittle anyone who did not deserve it (except maybe a bully). And no Matt, that is not me calling you a bully, just a statement of fact.
     
    Not that it really matters, but I left school with zero qualifications. I learnt my trade the best way, on the job training. You probably still out rank me qualification/education wise.
     
    However, the second line of your first post was: “broadly speaking conveyancers are selfish b8st8rds”
     
    When virtually your first words are aggressive, unpleasant and hostile what do you expect from a conveyancer who has devoted the whole of his working life (45 years and counting) to helping people move home.
     
    I have received many responses from my member firms, including this one, which in many ways summarises most of the others:
     
    “I cannot tell you how distressing I found it to read the Property Eye article and the ensuing vitriolic comments. It made me feel as though all of my efforts over the last 30 years have been for nothing. I have worked nights, weekends, bank holidays. I returned to work just 5 days after having my son and worked through a year of illness. I have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in IT development, case management systems, portals, integration, and many more hundreds of thousands of pounds in staff recruitment, mentoring and training all to improve the customer journey. Money I could have kept to ensure an early retirement. Over the years I have literally spent millions, yes millions, on paying referral fees to estate agents, mortgage brokers and panel managers – where would our industry be if those monies could have been re-invested in the business.”
     
    You make many good points, but ruin their impact by taking the unpleasant approach you choose to.

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  20. mattfaizey

    I take your points Rob about my approach.

    1) as above, I have never said conveyancing is easy.

    2) I’ve never used words that accuse or suggest conveyancers don’t believe they work hard.

    I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words, maybe millions however highlighting exactly, precisely how actions of conveyancers impact the public.

    I have provided over many years on many platforms case studies, live reporting, data, maths and much clear evidence to back up a myriad of accusations.

    not once.

    not on a single occasion

    Has a conveyancer managed to show me that I am wrong. Instead time after time, on here, and EAT and indeed by email and elsewhere all I get is told the same things,

    1) you don’t understand how hard conveyancing is.

    2) we don’t earn enough

    And that’s about it.

    I make a list of failings higher up, not a single one here, or ever before has been denied on a single occasion by a single conveyancer.

    There was a thread last year where I posted up the mathematics behind how many people are left homeless needlessly for more than 3 hours just sat around waiting for keys on average each month. There were three of four conveyancers who responded.

    They responded with either or both of the responses above. I was astonished. And that’s just one of many instances.

    I’d love it if I could be forced into a corner, shown that I am full of nonsense, and therefore be forced to apologise and retract my accusations. See, if that happened, great, none of the public would be receiving horrible home move experiences as a result of conveyancing.

    However.

    Working hard, and working a lot of hours isn’t enough.

    My washing machine works long hours and pretty damn hard. Thankfully it isn’t sentient.

    For if it was maybe I’d be in trouble for pointing out that numbingly doing the same thing over and over for years on end without reflection, nor self critique and examination results in clogged filters, worn parts and a lower level of performance. It though still would think it is doing the same 40degree wash it ever did.

    Now, if it was amongst 1000 other washing machines all of a similar age, they would all be in unison.

    Any brand new washing machine would be developed to the current acceptable standard, a standard which falls lower with each passing year.

    And that Rob is conveyancing.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    1. TwitterSalisPropNews53

      MATTFAIZEY ,

      “not once.not on a single occasion Has a conveyancer managed to show me that I am wrong.”

       

      Every area of working life will have people delivering a failing, peers in your own area of working life will be failing in some way, but I can’t recall a post from you where you shine a light.

      Where you list failings perpetuated by a small proportion of others, which is fine – as examples with solutions then help to improve standards – but then conclude by saying broadly conveyancers are selfish b8st8rds then……not sure any of us needed to tell you… but yes, you are wrong.

      Or, if you can list your examples/accusations against broadly conveyancers Matt, then list away. As ‘broadly’ – well that won’t allow many to escape that brush, so I am interested to read your examples.

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  21. mattfaizey

    And that is why I broadly believe ‘selfish’ is not an inappropriate word

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