Ask An Expert: Quotation Communication Tools And Property Sector Resillience

The property market has been forced to stall as the UK fights the ‘invisible enemy’ and some forecasts predict contraction in transaction of up to 50 per cent in 2020.

However, many conveyancers have highlighted their resilience and determination in difficult conditions with reduced employees creating increased workloads as more staff are furloughed to cut costs. With the property market in a period of uncertainty following lockdown, we ask Yvonne Hirons, CEO of Perfect Portal, what the impact has been for law firms using quotation and communication tools.

With a finger on the pulse at the start of the transaction, what have you see in terms of the number of requests for quotations from potential homemovers?

We have definitely seen a reduction in conveyancing quotes being generated across all our firms. In March, we saw a 15% reduction and in April, we witnessed a further 75% reduction of conveyancing quotes being generated. That being said, there is a rise in other areas of law. We have seen increases in Wills, Matrimonial and Lease Extensions.

Clearly the anticipated slowdown in the property market has seen an opportunity for firms to gear up to win work in other areas of law while the market is quiet.

What has this meant for competition? Are firms reviewing their prices to try and win more work?

Our firms are actually increasing their fees.

This may be due to the fact there is less work so they are using this time to review their costs and charge more for their services where they can. We certainly haven’t seen any of our firms reducing their costs, although we have had one or two firms offering special pricing for NHS workers.

The focus now seems to be switching to what the “new normal” looks like and what firms could/should be doing to prepare for the re-start of the market, whatever that might look like! Are you seeing any evidence that firms are encouraging vendors to get “sale ready” to enable a smoother move?

The feedback from our firms is that they are extremely busy and do not need to encourage their vendors to get ‘sale ready’. I think because a lot of the conveyancing staff have been furloughed, there is more pressure on the remaining staff to deal with the caseloads and I only spoke to one of our clients this morning who said she is working longer hours just to deal with the incoming calls and emails.

The million dollar question… how are conversion rates holding up in the current climate?

Conversion rates are definitely higher (in fact some of our firms that are generating over 60 quotes a week are converting close to 90% at the moment). I would say this is due to a lower number of quotes being generated but also clients being more serious about buying or selling.

Today's Conveyancer