What PurpleBricks And Solicitors Have In Common
Bizarre I say it, but the M62 got me thinking the other day. As I was cruising down the motorway, there was pristine tarmac all clearly laid out in front of me and with limited traffic I was making good time – a bit like a property transaction in the lead-up to going Under Offer.
However then completely out of the blue and for no apparent reason, the speed limit immediately dropped to 30 miles per hour for roadworks. What ensued was a maze of contraflows, speed cameras, plus health and safety paraphernalia. There were of course no roadworkers to be seen on site.
As I thought of it, this is exactly what happens in a property transaction when one works from Under Offer to Exchange of Contracts. This is where a perfectly put together agreement between buyer and seller in the hands of two conveyancers, can now be unceremoniously thrown into a dumper truck.
The Process Of Conveyancing
As the conveyancers wade into the process, they roll out their heavy-duty excavators, switch on their orange beacon lights and start to create what feels like giant craters in a proposed transaction, which then need navigating around rather than falling in to.
Now don’t get me wrong, conveyancers are there to act in their respective clients’ best interests, however when I am advising clients that the process of conveyancing will take between three and four months on average currently, one has to question what is going on. Not so long ago, 28 days was the standard!
The world has gone highly litigious in all walks of life and I can appreciate why many conveyancers are on the paranoid side of the fence. As such their professional indemnity insurance has gone up significantly in cost and some companies have stopped conveyancing altogether, as they perceive the risk and cost too great.
The Race To The Bottom On Fees
Over the last decade, I feel conveyancing has gone the way of PurpleBricks. Mass volume, stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap type attitude – and we all know what happened to PurpleBricks (it went from being valued at £1.4 billion, to being sold for £1 if you weren’t sure). I believe this race to the bottom on fees is a key factor in why the quality and speed of legals is so poor. This impacts not only on conveyancers themselves, but estate agents, buyers and sellers. Those involved in the process are not getting what they want, as low conveyancing fees means a stripped out service with no winners on any side. Under this type of business model, one then needs to call into question who is acting in their clients’ best interests?
The Poisoned Chalice
I have always said that conveyancing is the poisoned chalice and it is a very tough job indeed. Large amounts of money, high emotions and a deal which has taken numerous hours to piece together, now means that conveyancers need to get this over the line as soon as possible. The longer the process takes, the greater the stress for all involved. Solicitors equally get paid regardless of whether the deal transacts or not. Estate agents, buyers and sellers get nothing if it falls through, which again doesn’t help the process and why relationships with conveyancers can be very strained at times.
Choose Your Conveyancer Carefully
The key with your transaction is to ask exactly who the estate agent would personally use themselves for the conveyancing and to ensure that they are low volume and quote a sensible fee. If there is even a slight whiff of a referral fee, immediately walk away.
Come on conveyancers, you need us and we need you, but no one wants a cowboy wrecking ball service.