Wind back the clock a few years and the working relationships I had with most estate agents was productive, beneficial and enjoyable.
I am not sure that is the case with many conveyancer-agent relationships anymore. I hope I am wrong?
When I began working as a conveyancer in Exeter in the early 90s, I was lucky enough to have an estate agent contact, from my Bristol days, who had recently become the Regional Director of eight local offices.
He invited me along to one of their monthly sales meetings and allowed me ten minutes to explain why his eight managers should recommend me to their buyers and sellers.
He only insisted they do that once, after that, it was up to them.
At that meeting I did something that many conveyancers would be shocked at doing, I promoted (sold!) myself and the service I would provide.
I explained that:
- My clients and contacts would have a direct phone line to me and/or my secretary
- Calls would be taken between the hours of 8.30 am and 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday
- We would not close for lunch
- Weekend and evening appointments were possible
- Abortive fees would be capped at £50.00 plus disbursements
- Agents would be kept updated regularly
- Problems causing delays would be explained clearly
- Agents would be notified of exchange and completion promptly
- Whenever possible, agents would be paid on the day of completion
In return I asked that:
- Agents kept their chase calls to a minimum
- We agree a time and place for regular updates (usually at their offices)
- Friday morning chasing was prohibited
- Sensible exchange/completion deadlines were discussed and put forward
- Help was provided when needed
- Referral fees were not requested
Do you know what, more often than not it worked. Transactions were quick and as stress free as possible. Problems were resolved in the best way possible for the client. Deadlines were reached, clients moved and everyone got paid. Happy days!
Needless to say I received more recommendations than I could handle alone, so we employed more staff and as agents moved firms, even more new contacts were created.
The secret to all of this is in my opinion mutual respect, trust, honesty and good communication between agent and conveyancer. None of this is rocket science, is it?
*Rob Hailstone is the founder of the Bold Legal Group