Opinion: Is finding a good conveyancer difficult or impossible?

Is it difficult to find a good conveyancer?

No, it’s not difficult. It’s almost impossible.

Like the NHS, it’s bursting at the seams. Poor pay and overwork meant that last year 48% of fall-throughs were blamed on “solicitor delays”.

That’s 106,000 deals, and with one in three cases aborting yearly, one third of your profit is being flushed down the pan. It’s easy to forget how accepting the usual fall-through rate is decimating your bottom line. I’m happy to say our average fall-through rate is 9% against the average which is over 30%.

Making more money is easy if you have a good conveyancer on board who, for example, will issue the contract pack on day one rather than 2-3 weeks later, take your call, allow you to be involved proactively in the transaction and even chase solicitors in the chain when sticking points arise.

We have learnt a lot along our journey, from running estate agencies to now being the world’s most awarded conveyancing solicitors, but here are 6 things you can easily do right now to get better conveyancing, have happier clients and most importantly double your profit, at least.

  1. Don’t screw conveyancers on fees. Don’t be fooled, no one works for free. Don’t forget, that’s your money in their hands. Costs average £1,200 to £1,400 when we get bulk work. Our IT systems can adjust the quote to look like a cheaper solicitor, i.e. lower basic, higher additional (but at least we will be open about it) or the London agent may want us to show a higher basic and lower additional. Everyone dresses up the same figures but in different ways.
  2. Get your conveyancer to prepare a ‘sales ready pack’ – a ‘mini-HIP on steroids’ as some call it. It will convert more valuations into stock, speed up your sales and make you more money. This works best if literally instructed as the property is put on the market. As an agent it will make you look better if you suggest this, and recommend a good conveyancer, at the valuation/appraisal visit.
  3. With a good conveyancer you can let all parties know that whoever has instructed them is taking a commercial view on the transaction. If you don’t, conveyancers can argue for months over something that can often be resolved simply, commercially, sometimes by a cheap indemnity.
  4. Give your conveyancer chain information and ask them to chase the chain to feed back any real issues when cases stick.
  5. Get some conveyancing training. Asking the right questions at the right time goes a long way.
  6. Ask your conveyancers to come in to your office for the day. Get them in your morning meetings and sit with you to listen to your call-outs. What solicitors sound like when they talk to agents will induce some interesting discussions. Let them feel your frustrations at not getting through when the client is chasing you for an update. They’ll be surprised at the pressure, hours and commitment you have to put in. Many conveyancers still think all you have to do sell the property is to put the property on Rightmove/ Zoopla/ OnTheMarket. They think you get paid ‘big commissions’ when they do all the hard work and get paid a lot less than you because they don’t understand what it is you actually do, so tell them/ let them see.

Collaboration is key between you and your conveyancer, as is mutual respect and a desire for a win-win solution. Don’t sell them on being cheap, but on good value, proper expectation and for putting the time in to get them moved. That’s what it’s all about.

* Angelo Piccirillo is co founder and partner at AVRillo

16 Comments

  1. sb007ck

    4. Ask them to chase the chain – Good luck with that one.

    Report (2)(8)
    1. avrillo54

      Hi sb007ck

      You are right, it is frustrating when conveyancers don’t bother to chase the chain when something is sticking. And, not many conveyancers do it. However, your conveyancer has your commission in your hands. We recommend you speak to them and ask why they are not chasing the conveyancers in the chain. Yes, it will take them more time, but it gets the job done. My advice though, don’t squeeze them on costs. If you do, they won’t have the time and recourses to chase the chain for you. We always check up or down the chain for issues, when cases go over a certain time period, and if there is something sticking elsewhere in the chain. We tend to pin-point the problem and report back. This helps manage expectations and reduce fall throughs. It also helps us find practical solutions where possible.  Our fall through rate is just 9% last year and lower this year. It does work. I repeat, the secret is talk to your conveyancer or find a new one!RegardsAngelo

      Report (0)(1)
      1. sb007ck

        I dont ever squeeze them on cost, and to be honest our commission is in the hands of everyone, other conveyancers, other estate agents, and the buyers in the chain. I think we would all be naive to think that anyone, be it us or any particular conveyancer has complete control over the chain and the decision making in it.

        Report (0)(2)
  2. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

    Great article and absolutely bang on – especially about improving knowledge about conveyancing.

    But, I’m confused about chain checking.

    Surely, like completion dates, chain-checking is most suited to the agent?  We always check up the chain if things are stuck but often have lawyers brush us off because of “protocol”.  An agent has much more latitude here …

    Peter

    Report (0)(5)
    1. NewsBoy

      I agree.  Chain checking is for agents. We use very, very good local solicitors to do all our conveyancing. They start at 6.15, when the DX arrives and always return calls and e-mails. What is just as important to us is that they understand what they are doing and being doing it for many years. I never, ever, end up dealing with a receptionist/tea lady/tea gentleman/assistant/work experience boy/girl and always have first class service. We gave up using the bucket shop brigade years ago and have never regretted it. I don’t get a penny in referral fees but do get 3x more in probate business.

      Report (0)(8)
      1. Rob Hailstone

        Exactly how I ran my office NewsBoy. Hard work, but always a great feeling to be leading the pack.

        Report (0)(3)
    2. avrillo54

      Hi Peter

      Nice to hear your comment. We actually chain chase when matters are sticking as opposed to chain checking. We find that by saying we are solicitors, we tend to get through easier than an agent would get through.  As we both know, sadly estate agents are often ignored by conveyancers even on their own transaction, let alone up or down the chain. When they hear its a solicitor, they will take the call. we may have to ring a few times, but eventually we get to the problem and try to find solutions.

      Angelo

      Report (0)(3)
  3. Rob Hailstone

    I also agree, conveyancers shouldn’t have to chase the chain. What would be useful is a chain sheet showing all buyers and sellers and all conveyancers. It may well be that the same conveyancer is in the same chain, unbeknown to them and if they can see who the other firms are they will know where the strong and weak links might be.

    Report (0)(3)
    1. avrillo54

      Hi Rob

      Nice to hear from you.

      We don’t chase the chain for no reason. We only chase to see where the sticking point is.

      We calm those difficult situations where the conveyancers own clients are in the dark because no one knows what is happening up or down the chain, but are just experiencing delays. We get messages such as conveyancers up the chain are waiting for something ?? But what is that mysterious something? Nobody seems to know so panic sets in. Clients want to pull out etc. That’s where we get stuck in.

      Report (0)(1)
    2. avrillo54

      Hi Rob

      We try to get a chain sheet at the start.

      We actually only get stuck in where we are told there are issues up they chain, but mysteriously no one knows what that ‘issue’ is. Why all the mystery, we just call and find out.  It does take more work and we have to be patient (as it might take a few additional calls) but it helps try to narrow down issue, calm the client, and help reduce fall-throughs in panic situations.

      Angelo

      Report (0)(1)
  4. Property Paddy

    I don’t find chasing the chain to be an issue. I have had a chain of 2, the buyer and the seller (cash buyer/empty house) and still they took several months to put the deal through.

    I work in a fairly rural area with just a couple of high street solicitors. I considered trying an outside firm but even when we do have a non local firm acting for one of the parties, sure enough the other (and the rest of the chain locally) are using the local firms.

    Slow, slow, slow

    Report (0)(2)
    1. avrillo54

      Hi Property Paddy

      (Great handle).

      Sorry to hear that.  I know it’s difficult, but have you tried to get a few of your pet solicitors together and see if they would be prepared to work closer together and update you. It’s got to be in their clients’ interest. If they speak to each other on the chain, it helps get solutions, which helps them help their clients move more securely.

      Having said that, in rural areas, this type of conveyancing may be more difficult when using local solicitors.

      Report (0)(1)
  5. PeeBee

    “…last year 48% of fall-throughs were blamed on “solicitor delays”…  That’s 106,000 deals, and with one in three cases aborting yearly, one third of your profit is being flushed down the pan.

    Is that just mathematical gymnastics designed purely to confuse?  ‘cos you’ve well and truly lost me there.

    Report (0)(0)
    1. avrillo54

      Hi PeeBee

      Sorry for the confusion.

      The national abortive rate varies between different surveys, but one third is an average fall through. That’s one out of every three of your deals. When we were agents we found this so frustrating. What other business is so depending on someone else to allow them to get paid on what they have already done.

      Out this one third, ‘The Liverpool and Victoria Insurance Company’ undertook an extensive survey of the reason for those case. They found that 48% of all failed cases were ‘due to solicitor delays’. They calculated these as being 106,000 a year. That’s half a million over 5 years!! That’s a huge amount of profit that is being lost by estate agents and a huge number of cases which clients are losing, for substantive reason, apart from delays. That can’t be right.

      Does that make sense, if not you are welcome to call me on 0208 370 3877 or email me on aap@avrillo.co.uk.

      Angelo

      Report (0)(1)
      1. PeeBee

        I wouldn’t exactly say it makes sense – but I do understand the calculation at last.

        SO…

        According to your figures (or those of LV… or someone else…), approximately 220833 potential sales ended in a fall-through – yes?

        On the basis that this was stated as to have represented one third of totoal sales agreed, that would mean that 441667 sales actually went on to complete – yes?

        Who actually did these figures?  Diane Abbott, perchance?

        Report (0)(1)
  6. TwitterSalisPropNews53

    It is indeed almost impossible to find decent conveyancers.

    First you have to wade through conveyancers who have all claiming adverts, those who trade on low price “we are cheap’ branding, those who have ‘won’ conveyancing awards (awards given to only law firms who pay to be considered!?) and those who seem popular, yet only because they have referral fee structures in place so persuasive/HQ mandated that the estate agents receives so much money they do not care about the lawyers’ quality.

    Then you start to encounter the decent ones are CQS accredited, Lexcel accredited, they employ solicitors in the main as the conveyancers on offer to the public, their websites offer direct dial and personal emails for the lawyers on offer (total accountability)…and ……you start getting to the near impossible…finding a decent conveyancer.

     

    Good luck. The good ones actually do as they claim. Come find us.   :o)

     

    Report (0)(1)
X

You must be logged in to report this comment

Leave a Reply