Estate Agents: Would You Sacrifice Conveyancing Referral Fees To Speed Up Deals?

Iain McKenzie

Back in June of 2021, Rob Hailstone of Bold Legal Group penned a piece for EYE in which he said that conveyancing is not very high up the list of jobs that youngsters should consider training for. “Long hours, modest pay, responsibility, do not make it a particularly attractive career option.”

Rob quoted Iain McKenzie, the CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals as saying: “Low fees in any profession or business, usually equates to an inferior service.”

Now, in a joint press statement with Rob Hailstone, Iain McKenzie suggests that estate agents should encourage conveyancers that are currently charging low fees to increase their fees, reduce their workloads and get transactions through faster.

With transaction times longer than ever and the market beginning to quieten it is vital that both transaction times and fall through numbers are reduced. McKenzie even suggests that asking for a referral fee could do more harm than good.

“Not only have the requirements that conveyancers have to adhere to increased but also those that estate agents have to comply with. Better understanding and collaboration between the two groups is essential going forward.”

“The conveyancer’s workload has increased dramatically over the last 20 years or so and it would appear that technology has not yet been able to keep pace fully with those increases.

“Until new technology solves the problem, or the pressure on conveyancers subsides, then increasing fees (or not asking for a referral fee), therefore enabling individual transaction numbers to reduce makes sense.

“By increasing fees conveyancers would be able to reduce their workload, it might also keep conveyancers from leaving the sector and perhaps entice more to join the sector.

“While on tour, several Guild Members said that they would sacrifice a referral fee if it meant a faster transaction.”

Rob Hailstone

Rob Hailstone agrees:

“Unless something drastic is done soon, transaction times will get longer and longer. Conveyancing is not the job it used to be 15 or 20 years ago. It is far more involved, complex, stressful, and burdensome. Many conveyancers are not able to process transactions as they would like to for their clients.

“There are several reasons for this, but the main one is that conveyancing used to involve about 12 main steps, it now involves 30 or more.

“Logic says that if your workload per transaction increases (threefold), the number of transactions you can run at any one time must reduce, even if technology is helping in some areas.

“Add to the fact that there are HMLR delays, SDLT advice should only be within the remit of experts, and client and estate agent requests for updates have increased and it becomes clear that the conveyancer’s role is, at times, almost untenable.”

Hailstone recently carried out a survey at The Society of Licensed Conveyancers conference in Derby.

There were over 200 delegates in attendance and two of the questions asked were:

Do you enjoy being a conveyancer as much as you did in the past, and do you think your role is understood by clients and other property professionals?

To the first question 86% of the voters said no.

To the second, 97% said no.

“Surely these issues need addressing?” says Hailstone.

Solicitors and conveyancers should charge more

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