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Conveyancers want government hand-out to modernise house buying

A conveyancing body says it wants the government to allocate “a small fund” in next week’s Budget to promote research into how house buying can be reformed.

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers demands the government addresses “one of the most archaic legal transactions - the house buying process.”

The organisation does not specify how much public money it wants to see put aside, but a statement from its director of strategy, Stephen Ward, calls for three outcomes from Wednesday’s Budget.


“[Firstly} The allocation of a small fund to drive R&D for wholly new approaches that the private sector can then deliver and export in finding solutions for improving the availability and comparability of information on price and service for consumers;

“[Secondly] Incentives for conveyancing providers to invest in new IT to provide better, more secure transactions;

“[Thirdly} Help for the industry in preparing for the outcome of Department of Communities and Local Government work on improving the conv

Ward adds that: “The conveyancing market has never been in more need of attention and next Wednesday’s autumn Budget presents Philip Hammond with a real opportunity to let the genie out of the lamp and demonstrate a real commitment to innovation in the property transfer process.”

Poll: Do conveyancers really need public money to modernise their processes?


  • icon

    Raise the standard of the actual conveyancer - that is the single biggest issue at the moment with conveyancing: even the office cleaner can be badged as conveyancer, requiring zero legal skill.

    Improving the conveyancer will lead to faster decisions, superior understanding of conveyancing process, and proactive speed.

    (The pushing of more and fancier IT is a complete red herring, as give a mediocre conveyancer all of that and..you still have a mediocre conveyancer, now with fancy IT.)

    So...leave unchallenged the low skilled (often volume factories paying enormous referral fees as the only way to attract work) and property sales will always have that type somewhere slowing it down.

  • David Bennett

    It's like everything in life - you get what you pay for. The long recession has encouraged us all to look for 'cheap' - services, insurance, shopping etc, which is usually poor value. Conveyor (no pun intended) belt conveyancing is a good example of this.

    We don't need any more research into the home selling process. Just reform HIPs!

  • Peter Ambrose

    Absolutely right Tim.

    The fundamental problem with the current process is shortage of skills and too high caseloads and the two are closely related.

    The reason for the skill shortage is because more experienced lawyers don't have the time to train the inexperienced. We see this first hand with newly qualified solicitors who often have had very poor, if any training.

    The more experienced lawyers are too busy on their panel-induced hamster wheels doing Conveyancing for £200 to help them.

    If the government wants to improve the process, technology won't solve it, but greater clarity on who is being paid to do what, might be a start.

    Quite simple really.

  • Peter Ambrose

    Only one slight disagreement Tim.

    I call it the "Factory Myth".

    There are lots of small lawyers that do panel work, which is actually WORSE because they don't even have the case management systems to cope with £200 fees.

    Which is even more damaging to the home buying public.

  • Martin Williams

    The future is Block Chain... 90% of transfers are just systems anyway... won't need solicitors then. probably won't need estate agents... Rightmove buy Purple Bricks and start doing their own conveyancing... bob's your uncle !


    Blockchain - don't kid yourself

    Knowledge of property law/conveyancing procedure is far too low in so many conveyancers, as the UK system has been allowed to get that way. Fix that, then introduce your fancy IT if you must - as Blockchain is just another 'way of doing things'; which is not actually addressing the cause of why conveyancing is so mediocre out there at the moment.

    It is the conveyancer's knowledge of the law and conveyancing procedure which need addressing - asap

  • Christian Woodhouse

    I agree Blockchain will revolutionise the process and I'm pleased Land Registry are looking into this already. However, that's a good 5-10 years away so you need to think about what is possible for the majority of transactions in the short-term too. Having a Digital Home Reports up-front will help buyers make informed decisions from the outset so they don't get a shock when they get their searches back.
    I'd be interested to hear if any estate agents would try selling properties with a Digital Home Report.

  • Christian Woodhouse

    I totally agree that consumers need to have easy access to pricing/services but there are already Conveyancing Quote/estimate tools out there but there are a multitude of reasons, some easier to resolve than others, why law firms don't publish their fees.

    Going back to my previous comment, DCLG & GDS just need to keep providing more Open Data to allow private firms to innovate and create services to make the process more efficient, not necessarily faster just more efficient. Although the likelihood is that it will become faster.

  • Peter Ambrose

    There are lots of quoting tools out there.

    I wonder how many of them show the fees that the panel management company is charging the lawyer for?

    This is the heart of the matter - the Competition and Market Authority is demanding greater transparency on fees but it's not the lawyers who are providing these but the intermediaries.

    Time to change where the anti-competition authorities shine their spotlight don't you think?


    Christian Woodhouse

    It would be easy for quote tools to show the referral fee but why would the conveyancer want to highlight the fact their referred work is X hundred pounds more expensive than if one were to go direct? Its a viscous circle and once you're in it, its hard to get out of.

    I don't have a problem with introducers making money from the lead being passed to the conveyancer but the consumer should know about it. There's a lot at stake, afterall this is how Purplebricks makes a lot of its money and I believe it also makes up approx 1/4 of an estate agents revenue.

    Making these referral fees visible will change the dynamics and hopefully give the conveyancer back some control over where it's work comes from.


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