Last week the British Property Federation hosted a round table with some interested parties from the UK Proptech association, estate agency sector and the legal profession designed to give some kind of a steer to DCLG on how the sector might inform changes they might make to the way the property market works.
It seemed pretty clear from the start that most see change in the estate agency sector as a good thing – we shall see, my view is that we are still a long way off seeing the best of how the online sector will engage with the high street.
Mortgage finance wasn’t discussed but there was quite a strong presence from the conveyancing sector and, to my mind, it proved more difficult to see how the profession could, or indeed wanted to, change to embrace modern ways of working.
In a sector that feels it’s become many agents’ deal progressor, yet pockets a smaller fee there still seems to be a feeling that, understandably, you get what you pay for but that the system seems to be working OK.
I suppose I’m lucky insofar as I have always worked in London where those buying seemed content to pay a bit more and speed was of the essence. Elsewhere the sector suffers from ever smaller lender panels, a lack of early engagement from estate agents and clients in preparing paperwork, an on going lack of post HIPs suggestions, a lackadaisical approach from local authority search providers, etc etc…
Suggestions that DCLG is considering abolishing referral fees brought a shudder to some, given it represents a comfortable and consistent income, and some kind of deposit scheme to tie in buyers and sellers was barley discussed.
The sad truth is that fast conveyancing isn’t exactly an oxymoron but does require effort, imagination and planning. Misleading headline quotes for acting don’t help and there seems a consensus that unless you’re paying something over £1k including costs etc you’re simply not likely to get the service. Sensible companies offering a good service will not be able to thrive and we all want successful companies representing us.
Frankly the sector is also very fragmented and best practice not always held up as a shining example because of professional jealousy – but it does make you wonder why guys like AVRillo, who have a proven system in pace that radically shortens the process, communicates when you might actually want to be spoken to and vetted ratings to die for, aren’t held up as an example to more.
Until the arrival of prop tech alchemy this is about as good as it gets and DCLG could do a lot worse than look at how they do it.