A major survey of 4,500 home movers has found that only 13% chose the conveyancer offering the cheapest fee. The survey also found that people were more likely to recommend their estate agent to friends than their conveyancer.
Home movers in their 20s were most likely to go for the cheapest quote, but even then the proportion was only 25%.
The Home Moving Trends survey, by the Property Academy in partnership with TM Group, found that those who did choose based on price were much less likely to recommend their conveyancer to friends – 24% compared to 45%.
People buying or selling homes worth less than £125,000 were the most likely to be motivated by price, but more than 80% did not go for the cheapest fee.
Researchers said firms did not need to “advertise the lowest fees to win business” and “driving prices downwards could lead to expertise and knowledge being conceded by the conveyancing sector”, with the “unavoidable consequence” that more junior staff would be handling cases.
“This would undoubtedly impact on the quality of the work being undertaken and would open firms up to unnecessary risks.”
The survey found that 42% of conveyancing clients would be prepared to recommend their conveyancer, if asked, compared to 50% who would recommend their estate agent.
The most common way conveyancers were found was by estate agent recommendation. A total of 38% used this method, compared to 32% who were previous customers of the firm and 21% who were recommended by a friend.
A similar survey carried out by TM Group last year showed that recommendations by estate agents were more common (46%) and advice from friends less (only 14%).
Researchers said there was “work to do” for conveyancers to increase their level of client satisfaction and “actively encourage referrals and recommendations”.
They suggested that firms should encourage clients to recommend them and provide testimonials on their website or in their brochures to help convince people to get involved.
Home movers aged over 60 were almost twice as likely to recommend conveyancers as those under 30.
Seven times more home movers found their conveyancer by searching online, compared to responding to a local advertisement – 7% compared to 1%.
Researchers said home movers were positive about the levels of professionalism and communication skills they encountered.
“Nearly half of home movers thought that their conveyancer exhibited ‘excellent’ professionalism and, intriguingly, the ability to avoid jargon and speak plainly – something that solicitors have habitually been charged with being poor at.”
However, they were less complimentary about “speed and proactivity” and “problem-solving”.
The survey found that nearly three quarters of respondents (72%) wanted to be updated at least once a week on their conveyancing transaction, even if there was not necessarily anything to report.
Researchers that it was “understandable” that clients waned to feel that conveyancers were “on top of things”, but this could be achieved by e-mail, which most clients preferred to contact by phone.
Ben Harris, TM Group’s sales and marketing director, said the importance of third-party recommendations in choosing a conveyancer “really puts the onus on law firms to improve communication with estate agents and clients”.
He added: “If you are marketing your firm based on your superior local knowledge, be aware that there are often more important attributes that home movers are looking for when shopping around – demonstrate your proactivity, professionalism and communication.”
For the full survey, click here.