Conveyancers are shouldering an ever-increasing weight of responsibilities, but are hesitant about raising their fees, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) was told.
Clients do not understand the conveyancing process, and this held back moves to increase fees, a roundtable hosted by CLC heard.
Participants discussed how understanding where data comes from is critical to the push for upfront information as a way to speed up the process.
Peter Rodd, the residential conveyancing representative on the Law Society Council, argued that prices have become even more distorted as more responsibilities are loaded onto conveyancers.
“We now have the question of climate. To what extent is the conveyancer going to be responsible to their clients for advising on those issues and the possibility of flooding?”
Stephen Ward, strategy director at CLC, said: “Lawyers have found it very difficult to describe to their clients the value of what they do. You can list out the prices, but what is the value?”
Rob Gurney, a former licensed conveyancer and current managing director of Ochresoft, part of Landmark Information Group, said Landmark estimated conveyancers’ responsibilities have doubled in the last 15 to 20 years.
“The expectation of the consumer is impossible to meet, whereas, 15 to 20 years ago, we could meet it,” he said.
Paul Bennett, partner at Bennett Briegal, said many conveyancers are itching to increase their prices but remain worried about the impact.
They need to explain what they do and ensure the communication is clear. “Be brave and charge for the work that you do,” he said.
Those who have increased fees by relatively modest amounts initially “have gone on to raise those fees again and again over the coming years”.
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