Consumers are generally happy with high street conveyancers and by contrast very cool about the idea of going to a big brand to help them move house, a major new opinion poll has found.
The YouGov survey of 1,959 people who had bought a house in the last two years found that 30% said they would not trust a big brand with their conveyancing, while 25% believed the brand would outsource it to a law firm anyway “so there’s no point”.
The survey, commissioned by legal indemnity insurance specialists First Title – which has urged high street conveyancers to show more confidence in themselves – said that a further 19% agreed that “I wouldn’t want to buy legal services where I buy my groceries”, a view held particularly by women.
However, 27% of consumers were open to the idea – most said “they do banking so why not legal services?”, while more convenience and better customer service were also cited.
The survey found the desire to use someone local was the biggest factor influencing consumers’ choice of conveyancer (29%), followed by using the family solicitor (24%), estate agent recommendation (23%), and recommendation from family and friends (21%).
Only 10% said they shopped around for the cheapest option, and just 4% looked for recommendations on the Internet.
While most respondents were unconcerned about using a conveyancer selected by their bank or building society, 30% said they would less confidence in the level of legal service in that instance, double that who said they would have more confidence.
YouGov reported that “on the whole, participants’ expectations of their conveyancer were met, and most felt they had received a good service. Nearly seven in ten (68%) said their conveyancer did a professional job, and more than half (55%) said that they looked after their interests well”. Fewer than half of respondents (44%) felt the person handling their case was well-informed and helpful, however.
The survey found that advice about potential problems – such as the limitations of the survey chosen, absent planning permissions, and protection against seller misrepresentation – was “thin on the ground – and worryingly a third of respondents said they were not warned about any of the [nine] problems listed”. Around two in 10 said they found previously undisclosed problems with the property after completion.
On a scale of one to 10 (10 being very satisfied), 71% of respondents scored the house-buying experience at seven or higher.
Phillip Oldcorn, a director of First Title Insurance, said they had undertaken the survey to discover if some of the negative perceptions among conveyancers – such as that consumers want their legal services online and are mainly motivated by price – were actually true. “It wasn’t the case at all that people didn’t care about high street solicitors,” he said.
The message to solicitors from the survey was “to have more confidence in yourselves”, he argued. “Don’t slash your throats at the first sign of price competition. Your service is your service.”
Mr Oldcorn added that risk management is “not going on as it should”, especially as the risks that can arise in conveyancing are a blindspot for consumers.