The Solicitors Regulation Authority will ask 1,000 people about their conveyancing experiences to help improve the regulator's understanding of the market.
The regulator announced today that it will use the public's views on the legal aspect of their house purchase or sale 'to help shape the way it regulates'. Former clients will be asked about access, choice, quality and cost. The study will highlight good and bad practice, and specific areas of concern.
Crispin Passmore, SRA executive director, said: 'The research will play an important role in increasing our understanding of the conveyancing market. We want to know how it is changing, and how changes elsewhere - such as fixed fees and technology - will affect the experiences of solicitors and those who use their services.'
Between November 2015 and October 2016, the SRA paid out more than £1m from the Compensation Fund to replace stolen funds that were intended for house deposits. Three-quarters of cybercrimes reported to the regulator last year were some form of 'Friday afternoon' fraud on conveyancing practices.
Three-quarters of firms interviewed for a thematic study published in 2013 regarded the client care letter as the main way to give clients good information about costs.
In the same study, firms also stated that they did not provide upfront costs information. Two-thirds felt that when a consumer was unhappy about the conveyancing cost, it is because the firm they used quoted a cheap headline figure which did not accurately reflect the final bill.