As property transactions levels grew particularly in Q2 of this year, so did the number of occasional conveyancers or firms which merely ‘dabble’ in conveyancing.
Despite the small proportion of transactions these firms take on, their active participation in the sector has led to their increasing dominance in the UK conveyancing sector. Further, a combination of both the pre-Brexit outcome and stamp duty reform resulting in a transactions surge, meant their strength in the market could only increase. With demand high, purchaser and seller focus may shift from prioritisation of a specialised firm, and instead simply for one able to conduct the transaction.
If however such firms are only handling a minor number of cases every year, the level of quality they can offer may be undoubtedly queried. As a sector and ultimately a process, those involved in conveyancing require rigorous knowledge of search requirements as well as constant awareness of the ever changing housing and lending markets. The complex nature of these transactions are dependent upon experience and where firms lack this may be restricted in overall satisfaction rates.
The growing portion of transactions these smaller contenders handle ultimately impact the overall perception of customer service within conveyancing as a whole, potentially to the detriment of attitudes towards the sector.
Thus, although often criticised as conveyor-belt style operations, the much larger firms have been put forward by Harpal Singh as the more preferable option when choosing a conveyancing firm. The Managing Director of brokerconveyancing.co.uk stated: “In the great scheme of things, it would be far better for the industry if the public perception of conveyancing was delivered by those who understand all of it’s many demands and are able to get a case completed within a reasonable timescale”. This is as opposed to the smaller businesses which “would rather not be doing it in the first place”.
Similarly challenged, he says, is the level of commitment to each case the smaller firms are able to give, as well as dependence upon good communication. Such firms may be working in several different areas at once with attention being shifted from one day to the next.
“Communication and responding to that communication with the necessary information is vital—the big volume operations do this day– in, day-out; the smaller firms do not and their commitment to the case is often someway down on what’s required.”
Singh finally highlights the crucial role advisers have in particular when considering a conveyancer able to work in their client’s best interests. In his view, it is likely to make all the positive difference as well as making sure they “don’t end up in the hands of a dabbler who could let everyone down”.