Diary of a high street conveyancer: 30th May 2023

I am going to write about something I have written about many times before, but I make no apology for writing about this again: costs and fees.

I was asked to provide some figures for a client buying a property. When I called her to check if the figures were acceptable to her, she told me that she had been shopping around and I was the most expensive.

Obviously, the first thought is “buy a cheaper house then”. But we never say that, do we? I asked her to send me the quotes she had received from the other firms. She did send them, and I am sorry to have to say: Heaven help the public in deciding if they base their decision on price.

I am more interested in the quality of the service I provide, but the client does not know what the quality is going to be like. However, having seen these quotes from other firms, how does the client know who to instruct?

I looked at the quotes, and yes, there was the quote from the local firm who are big on referral arrangements and they were in fact three times cheaper than me. But what really surprised me were the following charges – they weren’t all on the same quote, but let me give you an idea as to some of the charges.

I think that the most surprising one was the firm which charged £50 for providing a copy of the title once registration was complete. I had assumed that this was done as a matter of course by all firms, and the Protocol does require us to provide a copy of the updated title to the client.

The thing is that the buyer /seller does not understand the process and does not know what he or she is paying for, so it seemed to me as if there were charges for things that sounded very important but even I did not know what they were. Some of the items which were charged for were:

  • Electronic reporting – by which I assume this means sending the report by email rather than in the post – which is odd to charge for it when in fact, you are saving on paper, printer ink, envelope, and postage
  • A file opening fee – this was expensive at £200. What if the buyer can’t then instruct the firm due to the mortgage lender requirements? Is the fee still payable? I could not work that one out
  • Online conveyancing journey – get me on that train out of here! It sounded exciting and who knows where you would end up?

That is just a flavour of the additional charges, but if you or your firm charges extras for such things, put yourself in the shoes of your client and see if you can make a choice between different firms.

Now let me get on that journey – perhaps a rocket into space!

One Response

  1. Does this article not illustrate two primary issues;

    1) Conveyancing is now seen (incorrectly, granted) as broadly an unskilled ‘service’ similar to a plumber or a cleaner. Or indeed a house mover.

    Therefore for many un-enlightened souls something that should just be bought as cheaply as possible. Cos it’s all the same……

    2) That there is a deficit of education and skill in the sector where understanding the client base is a crucial element of being successful.

    If conveyancers and their firms wish to changed their outcomes then maybe an enlightened few might eventually change hir own world and outcomes.

    This cannot happen until point one becomes an accepted fact by them. Then seek to understand the client better in order to engage with them. Only via discussion as opposed to chucking a quote in can this occur.

    The issues that are repeatedly highlighted and moaned about by this sector are only the same that Estate Agents and Moving companies have faced, and do face.

    It’s time to accept that the status you once held has long since been eroded.

    Therefore maybe the enlightened might seek to learn from and follow the examples of such that are successful. Instead of lamenting the cheapening the the fact that you’re currently viewed as the least worthy spend in the house moving market.

    This is where both movers and agents have been and are by many still.

    The clever, well they turn it to their advantage.

    Are their any clever conveyancers out there that can discover their ego’s, fill the chip on their shoulder and learn from he public. In order that they may capitalise and become the rose in a sea of manure?

    While your all pulling the type of pee-poor service like I’ve witnessed in hee last 48 hours (2 families left with nowhere to sleep – 4 moves have key release after 4pm and last night at 5pm a client told he can’t complete today as they’ve just discovered a boundary issue – cue massive stress)…..I’d say you’re currently being far more pay than you deserve.

    Humility is required before you can seek greater value.

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