Right now, conveyancers across the country are flat out, if not burnt out
While it’s great to see the property market booming and our industry thriving, every conveyancer I speak to informs me that they overloaded with work right now.
Considering we are the highest qualified and regulated part of the property eco-system, when comparing our stress levels and risk factors with those of estate agents, surveyors, mortgage advisers, mortgage lenders and removal companies, we sit uncomfortably at the top.
We take on more risk than any other profession involved in the chain. Running a gauntlet of negligence at every step along the way. Having to fulfil ever-increasing compliance checks, identifying entries detailed on the legal title, observing individual mortgage lender requirements, survey results, estate agent particulars, protocol forms… the list of requirements and risk goes on and on and on.
As an industry, we need to take responsibility for the situation we have created. We have behaved like we can offer a ‘one-size fits-all’ service, knowing full well that’s not how conveyancing works and that every single transaction we take on is unique and comes with its complications.
Right now, conveyancers across the country are flat out if not burnt out. Many with too much work, expected to manage an unrealistic number of caseloads. So, how can we use this time to reverse the damage we’ve done to the value of our service and industry?
Training, training, training
Investing in staff sits at the heart of any good conveyancing business, especially if we are to avoid sloppy mistakes and risk of negligence. A rigorous and continuous training programme that ensures our staff are fully up to speed on all conveyancing matters in an ever-changing market. Our new generation of conveyancers should
have an even stronger understanding of the processes in place to protect the lender, their client, and (most importantly) their own wellbeing.
Take it slower
We need to slow down, to protect ourselves and our reputation. The risk of taking on too much work results in an increased possibility of negligence claims, which in-turn, affects indemnity insurance. Large and unmanageable volumes of work ultimately slows the process down as conveyancers find themselves firefighting phone calls and emails. By taking on too much work and delivering sloppy results will only result in regulation intervention and potential disciplinary action. It also puts the wider industry at risk of not obtaining indemnity. By slowing down, we can focus on delivering the service our clients deserve, without room for error.
Manage cash flow effectively
We haven’t had the easiest of starts to the year with the effect of Covid-19 on the housing market. For many, cash-flow has been compromised as we’re not paid until completion and the average time scales are currently being reported in the region of 16 – 20 weeks. At Aconveyancing, we are keeping a tighter eye on cash flow at the moment, juggling inevitable recruitment costs with the investments that go in-hand with a growing business. As conveyancers, we need to channel our eye for detail into our own P&L’s, to ensure we’re keeping afloat.
Know our worth
Don’t be afraid to raise your fees to reflect the value of the service you are offering. I am often presented with files from a property sold 10 years ago, where the house has doubled in value and the conveyancing fee is pretty much the same, despite the increased complexity and risk in the industry. It’s time for us to take a collective step-up, know our worth and start setting fees that reflect the skill, hard-work and potential risk that a conveyancer deals with.
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to put urgency into perspective. Take time with transactions if you have to, especially complex cases, no one loses their regulation by being too cautious.
Natalie Moore is founder and director at Aconveyancing, with offices based in Tamworth and Solihull, www.aconveyancing.com.