Andrew Lloyd, Managing Director at Search Acumen
In just a few weeks, conveyancers in England and Wales will be compelled to publish their fees as part of new Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) transparency rules, in an effort to give customers more clarity. We have no doubt whatsoever that this a good thing.
The rules will help consumers find the information they need to make an informed choice of legal services provider, including understanding what costs they may incur before they proceed. The changes will impact residential conveyancing including freehold sale or purchase, leasehold sale or purchase, mortgages and re-mortgages.
Price transparency will benefit homebuyers by giving them greater clarity and certainty about the finances involved in choosing a conveyancing provider. Any fearmongering that this rule will spell the end of quality conveyancing is overstated. If the change is managed effectively, we believe the industry can harness its increasing access to data alongside renewed competition on fees to strive for new levels of customer service and satisfaction.
Some conveyancers have been vocal in their concerns that transparency will hurt their business. They may think that the lowest price will now always win, and the new rules will kick-start a race to the bottom which could hurt the sector and ultimately homebuyers.
But a recent YouGov survey of almost 500 homebuyers in England and Wales found that a recommendation by an estate agent was the most popular primary factor behind their choice of conveyancer (26%), with 20% choosing to use a lawyer they’d worked with before, and 18% relying on recommendations from family and friends.
A further 15% made their choice based on a firm’s general reputation and only 21% of those asked chose their conveyancer on price. The findings suggest that homebuyers understand the importance of having a trusted and reliable ally at their side as they navigate the twists and turns of the property transaction process.
So transparency in the conveyancing sector is a key ingredient to a trustworthy relationship with customers. Those firms that are open and transparent in their dealings with customers are primed to engender loyalty, repeat business and referrals – the real drivers of successful conveyancing.
Understandably many conveyancers – who we know from our Conveyancing Market Tracker are having to do with less in the last few years – are baulking at the idea of more regulation and more burdensome administration. And we share their pain: there is nothing worse for this sector than more paperwork.
But it needn’t be onerous to adhere to the new SRA regulations. We have all the data necessary at our fingertips to share instant price quotations. For example, Search Acumen has designed and launched a free ‘Conveyancer Fee Calculator’ for our customers to quickly and accurately calculate the fees associated with a sale or purchase of a property for their customers.
A quotation generator can be simply added to a website and offer homebuyers direct access to an instant online quote via a ‘get a quote’ button. This functionality will provide complete transparency to existing and potential customers, with no paper-pushing involved.
The service provides immediate results to help conveyancers respond quicker to customer enquiries and ultimately increase the chance of winning new business.
It’s a well-known fact that buying a home is one of life’s most stressful experiences. So homebuyers will not scrimp on a conveyancer if they know that they are paying a fair and transparent price in return for a good quality service. By offering homebuyers quick and easy access to quotations at the touch of a button, forward-thinking conveyancers can adhere to the new rules and show they are on consumers’ side – without burdening themselves with piles of painful paperwork.
 According to Search Acumen’s Q2 2018 Conveyancing Market Tracker, over the last four years, firms which typically process over 50 transactions per month have grown in numbers, while the number of those processing under 50 have declined