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Conveyancers demand sweeping changes to buying process

The Conveyancers' Association has called for sweeping changes to the house buying and moving system to create a "more certain and transparent process"

In a 40-page submission responding to the government's White Paper on how to modernise the house moving system in the UK, they CA outlines a 12-point reform programme - including a portal for house movers where they can find every document and chase up every element of the sale and conveyancing chain.

The 12 points are:

1. Centralise ID verification of all parties to a sale to reduce fraud and money-laundering;

2. Collate the property information and title information when the property is marketed, supported by a conveyancer's certificate covering any missing documents, to provide greater up-front information to buyers;

3. Require a local commitment at the offer stage, with a five-day cooling off period, through a conditional contract or reservation agreement;

4. Review standard conditions of sale to require completion funds to be sent through the day before completion;

5. Amend Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 to resolve "the unreasonable cost associated with the leasehold sales process";

6. Reduce additional enquiries through artificial intelligence during the collection of the property information;

7. Review the search process to create separate relevant searches to satisfy lender's and buyer's needs;

8. "Monitor and resource the performance of local authorities";

9. Provide a reliable lending decision in principle based on a 'hard' credit report;

10. Review the Council of Mortgage Lenders Handbook to remove anomalies and ambiguities which generate post-valuation queries;

11. Review statements within valuation reports to anticipate and avoid post-valuation queries;

12. Provide a secure portal for communication to protect conveyancers, estate agents and the home mover from fraud.

"We can see the evidence from other countries that by working together, these can be delivered" insists Beth Rudolf, the Conveyancing Association's director of delivery.

"Our vision of how the future looks, recognises that the industry needs access to a consistent level of digitised conveyancing, enabling the delivery of data packets and the interrogation of data, plus the need to create the beginnings of artificial intelligence. The technology exists" says Rudolph.

The association is to discuss the proposals at its annual conference next month.

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    Perfect.

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    I hope this does not add up to the ill-fated HIP coming back!

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    Hip's ill-fated? They worked and clearly the vested interests including the conveyancing lobby are now realising that the alternative - unnecessary delay and obfuscation - is not a sensible way forward. All vendors with the assistance of their estate agent should be required to make themselves "seller prepared". It takes only a few days to put a basic HIP together and at very little cost - a few hundred pounds - compared to the overall expense of moving home.

  • Martin Williams

    I agree.. the HIP was/ still is a good idea, our clunky old system was just not ready for it but the above would really help... but then in my experience a lot of agents are quite happy with the good old fashioned status quo because it helps justify their fee / existence, less work pre-sale for estate agents these days because of property portals and less work post sale because of a HIP !

  • David Bennett

    Convenient memories? HIPS worked, but went bad because many estate agents were buying in the pack and selling on to their vendors, often with a 100% mark up. Vendors were understandably savage when charged again, by their conveyancer.

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    I agree. HIPs were a good idea in that interested buyers were able to have documents examined before deciding to go ahead. Problem titles were often resolved before a buyer had been found. The searches were an issue if the property had been on the market for some time and not even indemnity policies could resolve that. HIPs were mostly criticised because they were high jacked by greedy HIP providers. I have tried to persuade independent estate agents to trial HIPs without the searches but it appears to be too much like hard work for them.

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    Al sounds like good common sense and practicality to me. Some great work done here, and I hope it happens and is made to work .

  • David OConnor

    If buyers are bound to contracted after 5 days that should be a good things.

    The downside is that the buyer & Seller will have to incur additional upfront costs.

    No system will be perfect; what would help is if all parties to the transaction respond promptly to queries & that conveyancers are correct resourced to give timely responses to queries.

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    Just my own views:

    1. be careful - electronic ID systems may prove a person exists, but not that the person in front of you is who they say they are
    2. collating is easy, it is then about reading the forms to make sure there are no gaps not just missing enclosures but likely enquiries as answers are vague or misleading - rarely done by selling conveyancers I feel
    3. Will distract from just getting on with the conveyancing
    4. Even now conveyancers fail to secure mortgage money the day before. Not a workable amendment.
    5. Make LPE1 the mandatory form with a set cost.
    6. Unworkable. Encourage conveyancers to actually read the documents to anticipate likely buyer enquiries. This means the conveyancers who have poor legal training need to be removed from conveyancing.
    7. Searches are good as they are. Many that exist are not appropriate to involve conveyancers in (flooding for example, and environmental too to be honest, but we do the latter none the less)
    8. Agreed.
    9. No objection
    10. Agreed.
    11. No objection, though valuers need to be paid more or of course they will cover themselves with vague expressions, disclaimers, and passing the buck to the borrower’s conveyancer
    12. No portal. Absolute red herring. Veyo! Robotic impersonal conveyor belt, dumbing down conveyancing – which is why standards are already so low, the quality of the human lawyer currently allowed to do the work is the root of the problem with conveyancing.

    NEW IDEAS:

    13. Claims and complaints must be published for all to see by conveyancing firms every year in order to be able to offer public paying conveyancing.
    14. Referral agreements, parties to them and payments made per organization per year, to be published every year, for all to see. To be able to offer public paying conveyancing
    15. Conveyancing quotes must identify:
    a. Are they a solicitor firm, and if not, which organization are they instead
    b. In all cases, WHO will be the conveyancer
    c. The conveyancer’s qualification
    d. A Senior Partner professional Undertaking to the above effect
    16. To be able to offer conveyancing, organisations are banned from acting for the buyer and seller in the same transaction
    17. CML Handbook to discourage use of legal indemnity insurances as that dumbs down the process/excuses shoddy conveyancing, and masks legal defects/wastes the public's money
    18. We need a new edition of the Standard Conditions to:
    a. penalise a seller – contract rate apportionment for every extra day - if more than 10 working days were taken to dispatch contract, transfer, requisitions, TA forms
    b. penalise a seller if the leasehold management pack is not requested within 10 working days of instruction
    c. penalise a seller if buyer enquiries take more than 10 working days to be returned in full
    19. CQS to be brought in line with the physical inspections carried out by Lexcel
    20. CILEX and CLC to bring in an equivalent accreditation, and inspection to 23.
    21. Conveyancing quotes must only be in two parts - to be able to offer public paying conveyancing :
    a. A COMBINED total for the conveyancers own profit charge e.g
    i. filling in a stamp duty return
    ii. acting for a mortgage company
    iii. repaying mortgages
    iv. additional enquiries asked
    v. unregistered title charge (that one makes me cross -smacks of a mediocre conveyancer)
    vi. leasehold title
    vii. Help2Buy
    viii. LSAP
    ix. bank transfer fees
    b. Third party expenses
    22. Estate Agents must not even mention (let alone dictate the choice of) any conveyancer that has to be used in their contract with a seller, or a similar condition imposed on the buyer for having their offer put forward.
    23. A single Online Mortgage Portal for collecting law firm data so lenders liaise with the Professional Bodies for what data needs to be kept/submitted.
    24. Professional Bodies to make a rule that conveyancers should establish which lender a client intends to use, and to warn them that they could face having to pay a second legal fee if the conveyancer is not on the approved panel, and to suggest they may wish to consider a conveyancer who is. This gives the client the choice - a more informed one so they really do know they could have avoided two fees
    25. Conveyancing Protocol to be adopted and made mandatory by all Professional Bodies, and amended so:
    a. Transfers and Replies to Requisitions to be sent out with the contract papers.
    b. Law firms should be encouraged not to wait for search money to be received.
    c. Law firms should be encouraged not to use letters if there are no enclosures
    d. NO exchange of contracts until the seller supplies a copy of their client signed contract and transfer – redacted for security of course .
    e. Sellers to always supply conditional planning consents, whatever the age (i.e not the buyer’s job)
    26. Review of the use of online case tracking and whether it is simply a way to avoid client interaction with ticks, instead of actually and personally alerting clients on a weekly basis of what is going on.
    27. HMLR to alert lenders when they receive an AP1/FR1, and then once registered

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