Let’s take a glimpse into a scary Conveyancing future:
Two Tick’ Tulisa is an 18-year-old, highly experienced one-to-one, customer facing conveyancing coordinator with InterGalactic Purple Estate Agents.
‘Two Tick’ Tulisa, better known as co-author with Sally Nofee of ‘How to Successfully Tick Your Way Through the Conveyancing Process and Wave Goodbye to Common Sense’ had reasons to be delighted.
The effervescent and enthusiastic Tulisa, acting upon a red-hot lead from her Punter Procurement Department (the PPD), had persuaded first-time buyers Mr Poor and Miss Unfortunate (not their real names) to use the conveyancing services provided by their sister company and multi-award winning volume conveyancers Your-Call-is-Important-To-Us.com.
The reason for her delight was two-fold:
Tulisa would not feel the wrath of the PPD and the immediate threat of remedial training in a foreign land had receded, but more importantly,
Tulisa knew that the Poor and Unfortunates had appointed conveyancers that were the future of conveyancing.
Luckily, a work of mostly fiction.
Just as Estate Agents are not all the same, it may come as no surprise for you to learn that not all Conveyancers are the same either.
"Just as Estate Agents are not all the same, it may come as no surprise for you to learn that not all Conveyancers are the same either."
Welcome to Chapter 4 of our Series, your Conveyancing Questions Answered All in One Place.
We’ll do our best to help you choose the right Conveyancer for you and if we have done our job properly keep you out of the clutches of the eager Tulisa.
What to look for when choosing your Conveyancer
The internet has changed how we now search and shop for products and services.
People now, as well as asking friends and family, more and more, use the Internet to gather information, social proof and make better-informed decisions.
Legal Services and in particular choosing a Conveyancer are no different.
The Estate Agent no longer holds all the informational cards on whom you should instruct on your move.
How to choose the right Conveyancer or Conveyancing Solicitor for you
We touched on how you should go about choosing the right Estate Agent here.
Those same principles apply.
Here are some clues:
Again first-hand knowledge or recommendation from friends and family should be your first port of call. Simple.
"Again first-hand knowledge or recommendation from friends and family should be your first port of call. Simple."
2. How Helpful Was The Conveyancers Website?
Can a law firm website actually start helping before you ever ask them for help?
A good gauge would be to see how generous each law firm is in giving you answers to your questions already through their website. A bit like this series of posts.
There are a few Conveyancing content-rich websites which act as good helpers to answer questions and explain the Conveyancing process
Moving house is a big undertaking. There are many moving parts – literally!
You probably have 4 or 5 questions about moving home and the Conveyancing process up your sleeve already.
Many Conveyancing websites have moved on from the days of static brochures and some scant detail of the Senior Partners’ equestrian pursuits.
Do some Google searches and browse some Conveyancing Websites to see what you can learn before having to decide which Conveyancing firm to choose.
"Do some Google searches and browse some Conveyancing Websites to see what you can learn before having to decide which Conveyancing firm to choose."
A small number of Conveyancing law firm websites will not just have blog posts like this but will have additional interesting information set out in video, infographically, spoken and in engaging pictorial way.
3. Is the Law Firm a Member of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme?
As a gimme look for the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) as an entry point, and also is the firm a member of the Conveyancing Association?
You can now look for a Conveyancing quality mark under the Conveyancing Quality Scheme.
The Conveyancing firms that attain the quality mark are truly Conveyancing Specialists. Not all Solicitors can use the CQS mark. More about the Conveyancing Quality Scheme and the Conveyancing Association later in this series.
4. Avoid Estate Agents Who Push Conveyancing Down Your Throat
There are Estate Agents who recommend Conveyancing firms and those that refer Conveyancing firms.
The difference can be important.
"There are Estate Agents who recommend Conveyancing firms and those that refer Conveyancing firms. The difference can be important"
There are some Estate Agents who are paid by Third Party Intermediaries or Conveyancing Law Firms to refer Conveyancing to them.
Corporate Estate Agents (as opposed to Independent Agents) are the main culprits.
Corporate Estate Agents either have a sister company which carries out Conveyancing (I call them factory Conveyancers) or are paid £100s of pounds in referral fees by third party panel managers who then pass on the referral to their pet Law Firm.
If your referred Conveyancers are many if not hundreds of miles away (or in another country) then this is likely to be the case.
The Estate Agent should disclose at the outset that they will receive a referral fee.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with an Estate Agent being paid for promoting the benefits of a particular Conveyancing firm.
The benefits for you can be a more streamlined Conveyancing transaction with protocols of agreed service standards; telephone communication, automatic SMS updates and email notification of key stages, and enhanced cooperation.
Unfortunately, in the real world, there is much evidence that some Estate Agents merely go to the Conveyancer or intermediary panel who pay them the most.
This problem has been made worse by the so-called “online Estate Agents" who can forcibly push their Conveyancing solution in return for as high as 42% of the overall Conveyancing fee by way of their fee.
We think this is a huge conflict of interest - avoid.
If ever your Estate Agent demands you must use “their Conveyancers” they are referring not recommending. Take note but don’t be browbeaten.
"If ever your Estate Agent demands you must use “their Conveyancers” they are referring not recommending. Take note but don’t be browbeaten."
You are in control and can make the right choice by doing a few background checks on any Conveyancers given to you by the Estate Agent.
5. Are Conveyancers from Mars and Clients from Venus?
You remember that book about men and women coexisting and behaving as if they were from different planets, don’t you?
The list of usual suspects, as it were; no proper communication, inability to mind-read each other, that sort of thing.
Well, it occurred to me reading various published reports and guides issued by the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) – the port of last resort for legal complaints - that some Conveyancers (men and women) and some clients (men and women) could indeed inhabit those distant planets.
The LeO published a report in 2014 entitled “Losing the Plot: Residential conveyancing complaints and their causes.” You can read the full report here
It’s rather fitting perhaps that emotional intelligence should be at the forefront in a Conveyancing transaction. The LeO report acknowledges that buying a house is a “deeply emotional experience.” And “given the emotions involved it isn’t always easy to resolve these complaints.”
And to prove we are seasoned intergalactic travellers between Mars and Venus and happy to inhabit both worlds read guide on what to expect from your Conveyancers
If you agree that moving home is often a deeply emotional experience and you are not a fan of impersonal service, you should avoid the Conveyancing Factories.
"If you agree that moving home is often a deeply emotional experience and you are not a fan of impersonal service, you should avoid the Conveyancing Factories."
You know the thing: You are in a queue –your call is important to us, we will put you through to your case handler shortly.
Some are obviously better than others but problems often arise in Conveyancing transactions and you need an experienced Conveyancer to problem solve and be proactive in finding a workable solution for you.
The motivation to get you the best Conveyancer for your move has been eroded over the years by corporate owned Estate Agents. These Estate Agents own their own firms of Licensed Conveyancers and “push” Conveyancing to their sister companies.
This option is also usually the most expensive.
It involves high-pressure tactics to get you to sign up to the Conveyancing service as soon as possible or face the prospect of being pestered until you make a decision.
7. Not All Conveyancing Websites are Law Firms
The internet has spawned many websites based around Conveyancing.
They are not law firms and simply put you in touch (and be paid handsomely by) bona fide Conveyancing firms.
Quick Tip: Cut out the middleman and go to bona fide Conveyancing law firm websites directly.
How Will You Know Your Conveyancer Can Walk the Walk And Not Just Talk the Talk?
When you choose a Conveyancing Solicitor or Conveyancer to help you move home, you might reasonably expect that all of them would be technically competent.
A great strength of our Conveyancing system in England and Wales is that the regulation is extremely tight and has the best compensation scheme of any of the professions if things go wrong.
Many surveys confirm high satisfaction levels in a technical sense
Let’s face it – it’s a given that your chosen Conveyancer will be technically competent – it is no longer a differentiator when making your decision.
What about a commitment to deliver top-notch service?
What about those soft skills of listening to you, treating you as an individual not a case number and what about empathy and place to go when things are not going exactly to plan? The ability to truly hone in on the Conveyancing service YOU want (rather than you need) which can make your Conveyancing journey as smooth and hassle–free as possible?
In other words, what about service level competency?
10 Signs Your Conveyancer Walks the Walk and Not Just Talks the Talk
1. Word of Mouth
We’ve mentioned it before.
If friends, family or colleagues who have been moved home recently recommend their Conveyancing solicitor to you, chances are that the law firm has passed the “Walk the Walk” test in their eyes.
Conveyancing testimonials are also readily available on some law firm websites Google also provides its star ratings derived from Google reviews.
Social proof is more and more relevant when deciding who to choose
2. Check for Complaints
Disgruntled clients complain about poor or non-existent communication, and voice their frustration to anyone who will listen. These complaints are amplified on the internet.
Put the recommended or more likely referred law firm name into Google followed by the word “complaints”. You may find some interesting reading and give you a heads up for serial offenders
3. Plain English
Will they explain the Conveyancing jargon and promise to use plain English – you know to banish once and for all that hereinbefore mentioned mularkey?
You can see how we tackle Conveyancing Jargon here:
4. “Your Call Is Important To Us”
If your Conveyancing firm says they value your call when you ring yet do not have anyone to answer the call and you are put in a queue, you may wish to think again.
If you can’t get through on the phone nor can other Solicitors, that can delay the day you move into your new home.
Avoid like the plague.
Will your need for reassurance and peace of mind by being kept up to date be fulfilled?
Will your law firm respond to you within what you consider to be a reasonable time?
Your law firm should allow you to choose how you wish to be contacted; by letter, email, text or in person or even snapchat if you chose?
First or (*cough*) second class post is fine if that’s what you want not because it’s the way your Solicitors have always done it.
Will you deal with the same person or will you be passed from pillar to post?
Team work is important but if you need to speak with your Solicitor or Senior Conveyancer will that request be granted without a big song and dance.
7. No Nasty Conveyancing Final Bill Shocks
Will receive any nasty bill shocks at the end of your move?
Modern communication makes contact simpler.
Research has shown that geographical attractiveness i.e. local is not as high a priority as it used to be when choosing a lawyer.
But, if problems occur in your Conveyancing transaction you may need to see your solicitor face to face; not easy if your lawyers are at the other end of the country or indeed in another country.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.
In a Conveyancing context can your Conveyancer put themselves in your shoes and understand what your needs are, what type of client experience you want and not what your Conveyancing Solicitor thinks that experience should be.
Client satisfaction should not be an alien concept but embedded deep in the DNA of all Conveyancing firms.
10. First Impressions
We know what good service looks like and often it gets overlooked. More easy to know what bad service looks like.
Courtesy and engagement are rarer than you might think.
If you like your Conveyancers or Conveyancing Solicitors and they are nice people, your transaction is likely to go much more smoothly. Fact!