In our 2017 Little Blue Book of property trends, we showed how 30% of property ‘sales’ ended up falling through in 2016. To help you get more deals over the line, we asked conveyancer Peter Ambrose for his thoughts on how agents can help reduce the amount of deals that fall through.
Why do some estate agents have consistently higher success rates than others? The agent-conveyancer dynamic is one of the things that affects a deal’s chances of success. An agent is in a unique position to help set client expectations, remove obstacles and ensure that transactions move through more efficiently. Here are a few ideas, from a solicitor’s perspective, on how you can use that position to help more deals get over the line and reduce the number that fall through.
Obviously, the longer the deal takes, the more likely it is to fail, so agents that focus on reducing delays are more likely to be successful. This starts from the beginning. Explain to clients up-front that they’ll be asked for all the property documentation and identification documents. Getting this paperwork together early on can eliminate weeks from the transaction.
During the chain-checking process, ensuring each client has complied with their lawyer’s requirements can eliminate weeks of delays. This could involve returning accurate documentation, signing transfers and contracts or sending deposit money. Again, in our experience, those agents who can preempt the lawyer’s requirements save time on deals and have greater success.
Smart, effective and timely questions will get better results than being overly forceful. Agents who focus on understanding the detail of the transaction and who take the time to find out which side the roadblock is on, are typically more successful. Agreeing realistic and achievable timescales with all parties significantly reduces fall-throughs. If you’re not working to the same deadline, this can quickly alienate you from the lawyer which often causes frustration, miscommunication and ultimately deals to collapse. Keeping both clients and lawyers motivated and calm helps avoid panics and failures.
In our experience, the most successful agents have a trusted, co-operative relationship with conveyancing lawyers. Indeed, figures from those agents who track when recommended lawyers are on their cases prove that those deals have a higher success rate. Unfortunately, the rise of the lawyer panel where an agent is typically unable to choose their preferred lawyer does undermine this process. Agents that fail to put a value on the choice of lawyer are putting themselves at a disadvantage.
We have seen the smallest of issues derail deals, which can sometimes be avoided by agents being proactive and pre-empting problems by working in partnership with lawyers. This is particularly key when it comes to managing expectations effectively. My advice is clarify, clarify and then clarify again.
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