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Agents and conveyancers – It’s not rocket science

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

rh@boldgroup.co.uk

  • Darren Middleton

    I see this as an issue on both sides of the fence. On one hand you have estate agents who are under increasing pressure to progress deals through as swiftly as possible, but on the other hand we come across so many law firms where it is almost impossible to speak to the lawyer handling the case and the conversations have to go through a gatekeeper. Obviously, I might be biased towards the estate agents point of view on this, but it could be as simple as a small education process on both sides and perhaps confirming the position of both parties as the sale is put in hand. Neither party wants to waste time with needless contacts, so if agents can be constructive with their contact and only contact with relevant questions and not the standard "Can you give me an update please?" kind of approach, but lawyers also need to play their part and perhaps read the guidelines you set out Rob, as they sound perfect to me. At the moment, we have a bit of a vicious circle, where the agents keeps chasing and the lawyer doesn't respond. This will only continue unless sensible conversations are had.

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