Conveyancing in focus – Derby

In the first of this series of articles we spoke to some of the estate agents and conveyancers in Derby city centre. With a population of circa 200k and sales volumes of 578 in Q1 of this year and 674 in Q2 Derby has a significant amount of business; the total sales volumes in Derby in 2010 accounted for 0.5% of all sales across England.

The aim of our research was to find out which conveyancers the agents in Derby are recommending and why?

Interestingly only one Derby estate agent recommended a local firm of conveyancers; the others all recommend the large volume conveyancers CPL, PPL and Barnetts. The top reasons for using these firms were ‘open 7 days a week’, ’late opening’ and the most common reason was ‘easy to communicate with’ with most communications being conducted via email. One agent commented they would not recommend local firms because, ‘they are difficult to get hold of and when they go on holiday the cases don’t get touched and nothing gets done for two weeks’.

Whilst the larger estate agency branches were all very willing to say which conveyancers they would use and the reasons why, when we tried to speak to the smaller estate agency chains it was a different story; most refused to comment despite assurances that the details would be kept confidential.

Today’s Conveyancer then went mystery shopping around the local conveyancers to obtain a quote. Quite frankly it was easy to see why these firms are losing the local business from their own City. Very few of the firms that we spoke to offered the name of the person we were speaking to — we had to ask. Only one firm tried to have a conversation with us and build any rapport. One firm were even quite rude as if we were an interruption in their day (bearing in mind we were under the guise of a new client!). Not one firm gave us any details of the service they offer or what we would need to do next to instruct them.

One firm did offer us a 10% reduction in their fees if we instructed before the end of month which suggests that perhaps conveyancers think that the only consideration for the Client is the price?

The legal fees for a Freehold purchase at £149,950 ranged from £349 plus VAT to £600 plus VAT but with potential clients being given no idea of what they get for this variation in price how are they supposed to know who to instruct?
One particular firm did stand out above the rest, not surprisingly this is the same firm being recommended by the local agent. The member of staff we spoke to was very polite and helpful, offered to either go through the quote with us over the telephone or send by email and asked us to call back if we had any further queries.  When we compared the Land Registry applications for September of the firms we spoke to this firm submitted over a third. Perhaps their quoting system is also helping them to win more business? The fees quoted by this firm were mid-range at £450 plus VAT but as they tried to build a relationship with us from the outset this is the firm that we would have chosen to instruct.
With the local firms in Derby doing little to try and win business that is knocking on their door they can hardly complain that they are losing work to the volume conveyancers.

If you are a Conveyancer based in Derby you can contact us directly for a report of how your firm performed when we asked you for a quote.

Remember that the person providing the quote is usually the first contact that a new potential client makes with your firm. It is imperative that you get this right to ensure that your firm is not losing valuable business.

Kelly Gillard is a non-practising Solicitor and former Panel Manager.

Today's Conveyancer