Conveyancing lawyers are threatening to derail the housing recovery because they are not recruiting to cope with increased demand from buyers, according to a new umbrella group of agents.
Situ, a property company launched by the leaders of five major agencies in the West Midlands, claims many conveyancing departments are under-staffed, causing a delay in agreeing completions and heaping frustration upon buyers and sellers.
Vendors expect to move home quickly once they have agreed terms but it's generally taking 12 to 16 weeks because of the lawyer time-lag. I expect it's a staffing and cultural problem says Philip Jackson, a member of Situ and director of Maguire Jackson.
Many solicitors until very recently haven't acknowledged the sharp rise in residential sales and have been caught out with too much work and not enough time he claims.
Situ consists of Maguire Jackson, Hunters, Knight & Rennie, Payne Associates and Oulsnam. The grouping says Land Registry data confirms the scale of the problem.
It reveals that between August 2013 to November 2013 sales volumes averaged 75,114 transactions per month across England and Wales - a 25 per cent annual increase from the same period a year earlier when volumes averaged 60,272 per month. Land Registry figures also predict this will rise to 80,000 transactions per month during 2014.
Solicitors and estate agents have seen a sharp rise in instructions. As estate agents, we are building our teams but the lawyers aren't following suit. They need to pick up the pace or will become labelled as the brakes of the housing market says Andrew Oulsnam of Oulsnam, one of Situ's members.