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Graham Awards


Conveyancers outperform agents for recent customer service say ESTAS

The customer service performance of conveyancers has improved in recent months according to the ESTAS review platform. 

The long-standing and sometimes-heated debate between conveyancers and estate agents has continued apace in recent times as the stamp duty holiday and surge in buying have combined to create transaction delays and backlogs for a wide range of reasons. 

Now the ESTAS has collated some 10,000 customer reviews over the first lockdown period compared to a similar three month period up to the end of October - and it says conveyancers are seen as doing a better job than before. 


ESTAS founder Simon Brown says: “We compared the service ratings submitted for the three months of the first lockdown (March 24 to June 23) and compared these for the three months from August to October when the market went into overdrive.”

Using only those reviews from customers who had completed on a residential transaction, the results show that conveyancer clients - buyers and sellers - were slightly happier with their conveyancer in the last three months than in the first lockdown period, up by 0.2 per cent. 

However both buyers and sellers were less happy with the service provided by estate agents in the same period - especially buyers who were 2.32 per cent less satisfied, with sellers 1.67 per cent less satisfied. 

“We can clearly see the difference in activity levels by the number of reviews generated, we received 3,099 reviews from March to June compared to 6,928 reviews from August through to October” adds Brown.

“I understand agents' frustration as they can see their pipelines getting long and longer and this is putting huge pressure at their cashflows but I think customers have more sympathy with their conveyancer than people give them credit. They know the market is extremely busy with the stamp duty holiday so they understand there will be delays in the process.”

Brown also claims the statistics “are in complete contrast to the picture that is being painted in the trade press currently.”


However he then goes on to say that the ESTAS data shows that over the whole period - the combined six months of the first lockdown and the period since then - agents’ customer service ratings were typically slightly higher than conveyancers.

Agents had an average rating of 89.84 per cent and conveyancers on 87.42 per cent. 

Rob Hailstone, chief executive of the 700-strong Bold Legal Group, says: “This data shows that conveyancers are doing everything they can to get deals through but they are having to deal with numerous bumps in the road not of their making. For example, delayed searches, surveys and mortgage offers, management packs, and having to hold on the phone for up to three hours at a time to chase up mortgage funds. However, this is not really the time to finger point, this is the time to be working together.”


    Good to see the law firms improving - we needed to! The truth is that both agents and law firms have been put under extreme pressure by the last few months. People outside our industry do not appreciate the customer service challenges that come from operating in the area of house moves. I know from personal experience that there is more pressure exerted on their lawyer by a conveyancing customer (who may be paying £700 for the entire transaction) than on a corporate lawyer by a corporate customer (e.g. a general counsel) who may be paying £2m in fees. The reason's simple: it's your house! The most important decision you make and the most loaded with financial and other stress. Both agents and lawyers have to contend with this at volumes that would make a corporate lawyer have a nervous breakdown!


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