Calls for clarity on conveyancing services as regulator highlights ‘room for improvement’

A recent report from a legal regulator suggests that there is ‘clearly room for improvement’ for property professionals when it comes to providing details of cost and service.

This is according to Chief Executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Paul Philip, who was commenting on a study conducted by IFF Research and commissioned by the regulator. Looking at the experiences of over 1,500 consumers who had sold or purchased a property during the past two years, the research found that over three-quarters (76%) of consumers are satisfied with the legal services they received, concerns regarding the timeliness and quality of the information provided were acknowledged.

In terms of selecting a conveyancing solicitor, the most common methods used were through an estate agent or based on a personal recommendation at 27% and 25% respectively. However, the findings also revealed a shift towards consumers shopping around, with 40% of those surveyed claimed that they were aware of websites which allowed them to compare legal providers online. Of this proportion, around a third had used a site like this when choosing their conveyancer.

When it came to the factors considered by consumers, conveyancing specialism and cost were the top most important reasons for choosing a particular service provider.

For the 14% who stated that they were dissatisfied with the service they received, the most widely cited reason was inefficiency and slowness at 37%. Poor communications and mistakes were also highlighted as problems for 22% and 17% of the group respectively.

On a general level, around a fifth of those surveyed took the view that their solicitor had not explained the legal process clearly. For first time buyers specifically, this figure grew to 42%.

Commenting on the research, Paul Philip stated: “Buying or selling a property can be daunting, stressful and complex, especially for first-time buyers.

“The research shows that most clients are happy with the service they get from their solicitor. But there is clearly room for improvement, particularly when it comes to providing the detail on cost and service that people are looking for. This report will feed into our thinking on what sort of information we want to see law firms publishing.”

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