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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Would fewer emails and more lunches boost agent and conveyancer relations?

Referral fees, lack of trust and too much email have been identified as barriers to greater collaboration between conveyancers and estate agents.

Property data company tmgroup sought views on how agents and conveyancers can work together better ahead of a panel it is hosting on the subject next week.

The panel will feature Rob Hailstone, founder of the Bold Legal Group, Nicola Gooch, partner at Irwin Mitchell, Angelo Piccirillo, chief executive of AVRillo Conveyancing, Beth Rudolf from the Conveyancing Association and Tom Gilbert, head of EA services at Sort Move.

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Joe Pepper, chief executive of tmgroup asked the panel: “What's been the real sticking point in achieving collaboration in recent years?

Hailstone suggested referral fees have driven a culture of business relationships instead of personal ones.

He said: “For a number of reasons; referral fees are far more prominent now than they were in the past, and more reliance has been placed on them, creating a more ‘strictly business’ relationship than a personal one.”

Hailstone also highlighted the fact that conveyancing has become more involved, and as a result, slower, and frustrating for estate agents amongst others, as well as the lack of face-to-face contact, including very few visits to offices or business lunches.

He added: “Will this situation improve? Without doubt.

“The forthcoming changes to material information means that conveyancers and estate agents are going to have to work more closely together than they have done in recent years. 

“That can only be good for all parties, clients, agents, conveyancers and good for transactions. 

“Ultimately, reducing fall through rates and transaction times. I now believe that some kind of property transaction pack will be created before a buyer has been found, and that has to be a good thing.”

Piccirillo highlighted suspicion and lack of trust as issues, adding: “Collaboration is key to a less stressful and faster conveyancing transaction for the client, lawyer, and estate agent. 

“The most significant sticking point in collaboration is the lack of communication and commitment for conveyancers to work more closely together with other conveyancers and the estate agents.

"Is this due to lack of trust, suspicion or time, and resources? All four.

"Should that stop change to a more collaborative approach? Of course not.

“We must all do more to change the approach of the two biggest interested parties in the moving process – the conveyancer and the estate agent – to stop being suspicious and start trusting the system more. 

“We are on the same side.

"Our ultimate objective is to get the client moving – crucial when the abortive rate is around the third mark.”

Rudolf added that the industry needs to tackle the myth that consumers don’t want to update the rest of the chain”

She said: “I could deliver my best service to consumers when I was able to collaborate with estate agents and provide regular updates. 

“People will be extraordinarily patient so long as they know what the situation is.

“However, the moment they lose sight of that, then the feeling of control is gone and they start getting stressed. 

“There is a concern that consumers might not want to update the rest of the chain – but this is a myth. Yes, there will be some bad actors who don’t want people to know that they are delaying, but these are few and far between.”

The widespread adoption of email was also raised as an issue by Gooch.

She said: “Modern technology is a wonderful thing, but the widespread adoption of email in particular has come at a real cost to collaborative working. 

“Increases in workload, coupled with the ease with which we can send emails, has significantly reduced the amount of time we spend actually talking to each other. It is very difficult to build a constructive, collaborative, working relationship over email. You miss too many vocal and visual cues.

“Collaboration relies on trust and trust is developed through human connection. 

“Email will always have an important role to play, but we need to adopt a wider mix and range of communication methods including telephone or video calls and in person meetings if we are to build the trust needed for a genuinely collaborative property sector.”

Gilbert added that a blend of technology and good old fashioned customer service is needed.

He said” “The real sticking point continues to be the archaic process to transact property in this country. 

“Everybody is fed up of it, in particular for leasehold – including clients, they seem to think that it should only take a couple of months to progress.

“In 2022, why doesn't it? But if we look at the pandemic era we have seen both the best and the worst in this industry. The best when everybody came together to support one other during the most difficult of times within our generation and fully complied when our doors, be it physically or virtually, reopened.

“The worst when the market buckled because there simply wasn’t the resource available to cope with the stamp duty gold rush and unfortunately the blame game continues to appear vitriolic at times and once again we have seen an exodus and renewed focus on mental health. Is it any wonder the consumer has such a dim impression of our industry?

“Now really is the time for our beloved industry to come together and truly collaborate. Through a blend of technology and good old fashioned customer service with neither setting out to replace the other.”

The webinar takes place on Tuesday 24 May at 12pm and agents can register here.

  • icon

    Shame that the estate agency industry isn’t represented on this panel in what is being touted as a collaborative meeting.

  • Rob Hailstone

    Very difficult to get agents to join in sometimes. I have a joint agent/conveyancer online forum (kindly promoted by EAT a short while ago), where agents and conveyancers can get together and discuss various issues. Still very low on agent participants though.

  • Maurice Kilbride

    Not sure returning to the good old days of business lunches will improve colllaboration! I mean, who has the time for starters? I agree on the trust and suspicion issue, but from an agents perspective, I find the majority of solicitors/conveyancers are not particularly good communicators, they don't seem to like or perhaps want to be othered by agents and sadly many still see us as something they scrape of the bottom of their shoe. Improving the technology in a sales transaction will help, better education for both agents and solicitors of what the other does would also be a benefit and in defence of solicitors, alot are under paid and have huge case loads, so I get they are swamped. However, we have found one, who is brilliant, a great communicator, very proactive, works closely with us and the clients, asks for our help and where she is acting, on average the transaction time is 6 weeks shorter! so perhaps there is a lesson there?

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    Exactly right… but it is still an industry that is stuck in the 1970’s,. The majority either close at 5pm or won’t take calls after 5, lock the office for lunch at 1. Agents see conveyancers as part of “team client” but it is often a one way street.

     
  • Algarve  Investor

    There's got to be some way of improving the system for all parties. Perhaps more conveyancers who have been agents and more agents who have been conveyancers might help in understanding the pain points, frustrations and main reasons for delays and issues.

  • Richard Copus

    If you can't find an hour or so for a business lunch once or twice a month there's something wrong with your model. The occasional face to face to meeting improves relationships and understanding which helps to speed up processes.

  • Alan Howick

    Perhaps stopping the 'bribery' for intro's would discourage agents and brokers sending locally based sellers and buyers hundreds of miles up the road to do a simple conveyance. What is 'food & drink' for a local lawyer becomes a mystery for someone up in say Halifax or Leicester. And the chap next door who you have worked with for years answers emails and returns telephone calls, cannot say that for Red Team up north. No need for lunches although a quick beer or glass of wine after six would be enjoyable. Alan Howick - an agent for far too long.

  • Richard Copus

    Like the MCC tie Alan!

  • Rob Hailstone

    "If you can't find an hour or so for a business lunch once or twice a month there's something wrong with your model." Agree Richard

    "Not sure returning to the good old days of business lunches will improve colllaboration!" It doesnt have to be a lunch, a coffee, or early evning drink as has been memtioned. But occassionl face to face cannot be beaten.

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    A beer after work I would do .. I could not be bothered to go a lunch and listen to all the pontificating

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