Conveyancing 2012 Results

1 November 2012

A successful survey in which over 200 responses were received. Thank you all of you who participated, we hope very much that you will find the results as interesting and illuminating as we have. Before we turn to the analysis of the results, a quick note on the methodology we used to filter down the results, and the graphs we chose to present the most accurate picture possible.

  1. Responses were collected and divided into their relevant regions.
  2. Then sorted according to their IP Addresses (Survey Monkey, the software which we used to conduct the survey collects the IP Addresses of respondents, we can't know however who you are though) - those that were the same were highly likely to have come from the same firms, and in fact the high correlation between answers confirmed this fact. As an interesting aside, a few of the more careful respondents read through the survey and did not answer anything, then re did it, this time answering the questions.
  3. A number of respondents did not respond at all apart from answering the first question, other responses were non-sensical, these too were excluded.
  4. The remaining data generated the graphs below.  However because of the insufficient responses from a number of the regions, we have decided to publish only the countrywide and not the regional results.
  5. Not every question in the survey has been used verbatim.


About you and your firm

1. In which area do you practice?

With Cape Town and Pretoria leading the pack the national results will be skewed.  


2. How many partners does your firm have?

What is interesting to note here when compared the results to the 2010 survey is that the number of sole practitioners has stayed relatively constant.  Yet firms are getting bigger, with the proportion of firms with more than 6 partners growing especially.


Cost Recoveries

3. What amount does your firm recover from clients for Postages and Petties for ...Transfers, Bonds and Cancellations.

The following points apply here and to other graphs in this format. I divided the responses into the Lower ¼ (the amount below which a quarter of respondents fall); a Median point (half fall beneath this value and half above); ¾ (3/4 fall below this point) and High (the most any firm claims/charges etc).  In 2010 the average recovery on a transfer was R450.00 and today it is R500.00 reflecting a  10% increase over 2 years, which is in line with normal inflation.  In 2010 the maximum on a transfer was R1000.00 and,today the maximum is R1250.00 showing an increase of 25% from 2010 to 2012. 

With bonds we see the same low and average pattern as transfers.However, there seem to be some constraints on the higher end which stayed the same, this is probably because of the competitive nature of the market and the fact that banks might also influence this as some institutions prescribe what the attorney may charge.


4. What amount does your firm recover from clients for Deeds Office searches?  

Evidence here of a price competitive market with the average charge for a deeds search still at R100 and the highest recovery falling from R700.00 in 2010.


5. What amount does your firm recover for Electronic Bond Instructions? 

The average cost for an electronic bond instruction is R129.00 which is about the same as in 2010, with the highest recovery dropping quite a bit from R1000.00 in 2010 to R650.00.  The  minimum recovery by some firms is R40.00,  which is a serious under recovery of the actual cost, and they should perhaps adjust it.


6. Have you increased the last published conveyancing tariff to keep pace with inflation?  If "Yes" by what percentage?

One of the things we often hear from practitioners is how infrequently new fee guidelines are issued by the law societies.  Be that as it may, firms are still very reluctant to  charge anything more  than the fee guideline, in fact quite the opposite.  The majority of firms are giving discounts. 

As we see the RED BAR shows the percentage of firms who DO NOT charge more than the fee guidelines, and the BLUE BAR shows the percentage of firms WHO DO charge more, while the GREEN BAR shows us  the PERCENTAGE BY WHICH THEY INCREASE the fee. 
Compared to 2010 we see that the percentage of firms who charged more dropped from 20% in  2010 to 13% in 2012. While the percentage by which they increased their fee only went up by 1% over the two year period from 10.6%  to  11.6%.
It is clear therefore that the conveyancing market is under pressure to keep costs as low as possible.  


7. Do you charge a minimum fee for the following: Bonds, Transfers, Cancellations?


8(1) If you discount fees, by what percentage do you normally discount them? (If you never discount, please enter a 0)

Almost 90% of firms now discount fees at an average rate of 18%, compared to 80% of firms discount fees at an average rate of 20% in 2010.

8(2) What percentage mark-up do you add to the transactional billing charge?

The number of firms who DO NOT mark-up the transactional billing fee, decreased from 87% in 2010 to 71% in  2012 which means that  today 29%  of firms mark-up the transactional billing fee. The blue bar shows us the minimum mark-up in 2012 is 10% - 8% higher than in 2010, the red bar shows the average mark-up  currently is 26% - 9% more than in 2010 and the green bar shows us the maximum mark-up is 158%, an increase of 58% from 2010.


In short, fees have been reduced on the one hand but the transactional billing charge has been increased on the other.  


More about your firm

9. Conveyancer/Secretary ratio.


10. Have you started recruiting secretaries?


11. On average what do your firm's secretaries earn? 


 Bridging of rates and taxes

12. How many active matters on average does a secretary in your firm deal with in a month?


13. The answer to the following two questions:

How many transfers on average does your firm do per month? and 

In how many (number) of these transfers on average is the rates and taxes amount bridged (paid by someone other than the seller)? Gives us the following graph:


14. Of the number bridged, what percentage is bridged by ... Your Firm, Bridging Company, The Purchaser, Other?


15. Does your firm or conveyancing secretaries accept commission payments from bridging companies?


16. Does your firm or conveyancing secretaries accept any incentives other than commission from bridging companies?


17. What is the average ANNUAL interest rate being charged by companies for bridging of rates?


18. In your opinion what is most important in selecting a bridging finance partner?

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