Diary of a High Street Conveyancer; 1st November 2021

I was disappointed to read a report this week that conveyancers are now reducing their fees. The report contained a quote which said that as pressure eased on the system after June, conveyancing costs have dropped.  

My instant reaction was no! No! NOOOOOO! 

Followed by WHY?

We have all worked so hard over the last eighteen months, and we have seen so many reports on LinkedIn and other forums that the pressure that conveyancers have been under has been intense. We have been under the spotlight, and there can be no argument that conveyancers have worked long hours, without taking a holiday, just to ensure that clients are looked after properly and that the clients were able to make savings on SDLT where possible.

It was reported that fees had increased, which I strongly believe is a good thing, and (say it quietly) that firms were turning away work, or at least being more choosy about the work they were doing and at what price.

I had hoped that the industry had appreciated the pressures that solicitors’ firms were under and that the solicitor is the gate keeper of the transaction. You can buy and sell a house without an agent but you will always need a solicitor.

And what makes me very cross about this report is that it refers to the fact that estate agents achieve nearly one and a half times the fees that conveyancers achieve.

What the report did not mention is that some estate agents still charge a percentage of the price they achieve for a house. And in a rising market, that means that the fees increase. And if the market is as busy as it is now, with a reported nineteen buyers for every property, then a property can be sold before it is even listed and before any monies are spent on preparing sales particulars, albeit standing fees such as the portal costs remain. The agent does less but earns more. And that fee increases in a rising market for no extra work on the part of the agent.

A quick Google search reveals conveyancing charges advertised at £400 plus VAT. To the public, this gives the impression that conveyancing is easy and can be done cheaply.  Well, we all know that £400 is probably not what the client will pay as there will be ‘add ons’ for such things as having a mortgage, being a leasehold property, etc, but to the person carrying out that search, it devalues the job we do.

So my plea to the profession is please keep the prices high. We are worth it, and there is no point in having been able to increase our fees in a busy time, only to drop them when the market could be slowing.

Look at the maths of the situation; firm A charges £500.00 per transaction; firm B charges £1,000.00. Therefore Firm A needs two cases for every one case that Firm B does, but more importantly, Firm A needs twenty cases for every ten that Firm B does. Why put your staff under that pressure?

Keep the prices high.  Show your worth.  Show the public that conveyancing is a skill , and comes after many years of experience.

As one commentator said earlier this year – be brave and double your prices.

 

This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.

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