It’s no secret that the expectations of the modern homebuyer have changed dramatically which has made the sales process a very different beast for all involved. Peter Ambrose, founder of award-winning conveyancing firm The Partnership shares his insider insight into the biggest new challenges faced by conveyancers and how property solicitors must adapt.
I’ve been working in conveyancing for upwards of ten years, and in my experience, people are much more demanding now. It’s ‘the Amazon effect’. Clients are quicker to ask questions and challenge your advice. People are also much quicker to jump to conclusions which can be dangerous. Transactions are without doubt more difficult than ever before. This is a significant trend that has emerged over the last 2-3 years and it’s a challenging one to manage. You have to be very careful how you approach situations and be mindful of the information you give out to clients.
Of course, transparency is really important, but I think there must always be a balance. Conveyancers must be clever about how they communicate with their clients: too little information and your client feels neglected but too much can overwhelm them and end up complicating things further. What really helps conveyancers and estate agents alike is technology or platforms that can assist in client communications. Technology like mio is fantastic for mitigating customer concerns about the sale not progressing because they can see it right before their eyes. Although primarily for estate agents and home movers, mio can help the conveyancer because it means there’s fewer phone calls for them to deal with, making the overall conveyancing process much quicker. People these days like to have something at their fingertips to track progress – it’s just what we are used to. Of course, technology does not do your job for you, but with something like mio in your back pocket you can free up your time to dive into some of the more complex legal aspects. And, at the end of the day, clients don’t want to delve into this too far – a simplified and digestible view of the chain is often all you need to maintain client satisfaction.
As a solicitor, your relationships with clients still need to be managed with care. Let’s not forget that this process is one of the most emotional and stressful events of their life, so you need to be empathetic and be prepared to spend more time with them. Knowing where to invest your time is key. Technology is essential for cutting down on admin and reducing the volume of client queries and minor questions which means you can spend more time solving the problems and explaining the data. The role of the conveyancer should be split between interpreter and communicator.
What is the future of conveyancing?
I see that in the future, the lawyer’s role and the estate agent’s role will come closer together. Both will handle and interpret data, and deploy it calmly and understandingly to the client. In these difficult times, conveyancing lawyers need to have interpretation, people management and social skills that match their legal technical skills. If you free up communication time using technology like mio, you have more time to dedicate to the technical skill involved in the conveyancing process.
Technology and AI are undoubtedly the future but there needs to be a willingness from solicitors to embrace change. We’re seeing it already in this industry with Land Registry and Local Authorities but there’s a distinct lack of good quality software for law firms. Some firms still haven’t adopted a case management system and are working in exactly the same way as ten years ago. There is a huge opportunity for technology to revolutionise the process and significantly improve it until solicitors are willing to really change up how they work, the technology lag will continue.