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Conveyancers want 'log book' and 'home report' for each property

The Conveyancing Association wants the creation of a ‘log book’ and ‘Home Reports’ for each home on sale - reminiscent in principle to the ill-fated Home Information Packs as well as unsuccessful services such as the Veyo e-conveyancing project.

The CA has in recent months issued a so-called ‘white paper’ discussion document including suggestions to streamline the house-moving process; these have now been turned into what the association describes as a ‘strategic plan’ with three objectives - to create certainty for the house mover, to prevent fraud, and to create more effective communications between all parties in a house move.

One of its suggestions is the creation of a “secure communications platform” for each home on sale, that would contain a log book. The CA says it anticipates many (albeit unspecified) challenges that would have to be overcome to achieve this.

Another suggestion is the creation of “E-Home Reports” which would be “providing a comprehensive collection of information up-front prior to the property being marketed.”

Other proposals by the CA include:

- Enhanced ID verification: “helping develop a reliable product that reduces verification instances but increases certainty”;

- Reservation agreements: “providing a standardised agreement to reduce uncertainty and create home mover choice”;

- Completion certainty: “enabling completion monies to be sent the day before completion to make moving home easier for clients on the day of completion”;

- Leasehold reform: “reducing the costs and delays associated with leasehold transactions, plus helping develop a redress scheme and support fair terms in new leases”;

- Lending process improvements: “creating the ability for buyers to obtain a reliable Decision-in-Principle, plus reduce post-offer queries and improve communication with lenders”; 

- Better search data provision: “reducing costs and delays, plus creating a version of CON 29 [search document] relevant for lenders with optional borrower questions, and digitise relevant data.”

“In a number of key areas, progress has already been made” claims  Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association.

“I’m thinking particularly of leasehold reform where, thanks to the concerted efforts of stakeholders, the government has committed to a review of leasehold tenure, and where we have already begun the process of developing greater consumer understanding via our consumer guide on leasehold administration fees which provides consumers with the information necessary to ask the right questions before viewing a property” she adds. 

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    I would suggest the Conveyancing Association first makes sure the quality of its member firms is the best it can be.

    As for their suggested changes to 'conveyancing' there is a lot wrong with their proposals, and not a single focus on the quality of the human being doing the actual legal work - the quality of whom in the public arena is the lowest I have witnessed in over 20 years.

    This is why we deliberately recruit the very best conveyancers, who want to impress their employers with the service to the public (and thus climb the ladder within the business) and who are expert in property law, thus able to make instant prompt and expert decisions....meaning we can target an exchange of contracts within 4 weeks on all deals, in a chain or not, as we get our work done, and then we chase down everyone else.

    Changes to conveyancing......just make sure the focus is on the right ones.

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    As others have said elsewhere, if conveyancers got off their backsides and actually proactively chased a sale through instead of firing off a letter and sit there 4 weeks later with no response and then if they are chased by the client or estate agent begrudgingly send another letter it might actually make a difference.

    Have a diary system, use a phone and make a difference - Its really not hard, even the estate agents you loath manage to do it!

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    No point just criticising conveyancers, overall this is a positive move. Yes, we all know conveyancers who send of Q's and don't chase for the A's, or claim not to have heard 'anything' from the other conveyancers. Mainly this practice lies with those who charge by the hour rather than agree (as my own local high st solicitor has done) to offer an up front fixed quote with fees payable only if the transaction goes through.
    I feel that the main delays are due to messy paperwork ... incorrectly registered title, dubious indemnity insurance, lack of clarity re covenants, ill defined boundaries, evasive replies to legitimate questions .... and of course all parties being able to withdraw with no penalty right up to Exchange.

    The CA suggestions should address all of this.

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    There's no point doing anything unless ALL the information is provided up front. When I put my house on to the market which will be soon (start queuing up now!), I shall be providing an exchange-ready pack, almost identical to an auction pack, but with the addition of a full building survey and two independent valuations. The buyer can take it or leave it!

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    Its a nice idea in theory but to be honest Richard you are not the problem.

    Yes there is the occasional property with a bit of damp or movement but its the estate agent that renegs it not the solicitor and is sorted pretty quickly. In regards to valuations not much gets down valued.

    The problem is too many solicitors have too much work and do not invest in support staff. And their process have not changed since the 1970's.

    Despite all the work you put into your pack (or any pack a conveyancer wants at the outset in a reform) it will not change the fundamental issues in a profession that has not evolved in 40 / 50 years.


     
  • Rob Hailstone

    Here we go again Smile please, a complete misunderstanding of how conveyancers work and why they work like they do. Pointless me trying to explain, in a helpful and pro-active way, yet again! You have your blinkers on.

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    Rob,

    The issue is people like you. Undoubtedly you are hard working, and you feel you do a good job.

    But the issue is the direct users of your service (not yours directly but industry) are in the main horrified of the service they receive.

    If i was a lone voice i could be dismissed as a nutter or too high expectations.

    But i am not. The majority of both clients and estate agents feel as an industry conveyancers do not produce a service fit for 2017.

    You and any other conveyancer can deny it until you are blue in the face, and i am sure there are some good proactive conveyancers but the large majority offer substandard service.

    Until attitudes change the service will not.

    I have 20 odd years experience, independent, corporate and i own a firm myself. I think i am pretty well placed to judge. I do not profess to know the ins and outs of a lease but i do know from 1000's of transactions over the years the main that we encounter the same issues time and again and its more to do with being efficient as opposed to awkward or time consuming inquiries.

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    Smile please - Rob's a class act, care to reveal who you are?

    Two things though:

    A. Chasing

    The Conveyancer:

    You are right in that conveyancers fire off a communication (a dialogue has to start somewhere after all) but .…you focus entirely on the wrong party. You actually encourage chasing, rather than focus on the ones who should not have to be chased! The mediocre/slow conveyancers.

    I suspect there are vast numbers of conveyancers like me, who spend 60% (that's right 60%!) of too many files chasing/doing the other conveyancers work, when they should respond promptly.

    Slow conveyancing? Why?

    1. too many clients - because:
    a. they get their work by paying owning estate agnets, or paying huge backhanders to estate agents, the ones who only care about which conveyancers pay most, never about making sure the public also get a great legal service
    b. conveyancers offer the lowest fee in the home selling/buying process (despite carrying the greatest risk by far…career ending it is that risky) they have to make the maths work, and they have to act for many clients at one time. Most conveyancers have 60-100+sales/purchase active, and all could call on the same day….and most conveyancers can barely dedicate more than a few minutes to a client a day just to manage to keep up.
    2. The conveyancers are so junior/they feel they have no self-worth in the organisation, and so they lack interest in promotion of the employer. Impressing the client, doing much more than 9-5.
    3. The conveyancers are not trained well enough in property law / conveyancing law to be able to give instant answers, or even courage to reply, until they have to/an estate agent chases/a senior lawyer steps in
    4. Not familiar enough with conveyancing procedures to be confident/fast enough
    5. They dabble in conveyancing rather than have it as their bread and butter every day activity


    The Estate Agent:

    We work with impressive estate agents in Salisbury, and throughout the country. We even promote them on our website, and we keep adding to it.

    But too many Agents let their own side down too, just like slow conveyancers do as it is these Estate Agents who do not earn their big bucks to project manage the deal by chasing down the slow performing conveyancers. They give up once they have matched the buyer and seller. What use are they. They might call once every few weeks to ask for an update, sound disinterested when you tell them and then go back to sleep for another 3 weeks.

    Weeks can go by and they will not chase the slow lawyers……they put the deal together after all, and are dependent on the lawyers to get the deal done ……to get paid.

    So both Agents and Conveyancers should make sure we are doing our jobs 100% effectively else we better watch for signs of the formation around us of an ivory tower.

    B. Fit for service

    My gut was to retaliate at your 2017 comment, but I have been saying for some time that in my view, conveyancing standards are at their lowest in over 20 years.

    We constantly have daft portal or IT solutions proposed as some sort of cure, widespread agendas from memberships who need to look to their quality first, and yet not a single focus on the quality of the human being doing the legal work. Improve the quality of the conveyancer and you will vastly improve conveyancing, almost to the point where nothing else needs to happen.

    Too many vested interests/profiteers /leaches on the public’s wallet for that – unless someone brave steps in.

    However, Agents are not immune either, as the onset of online agents demonstrate. True, I would not recommend an online agent to a family member or friend, let alone a client, but the public think something is wrong with the traditional model, so again, Conveyancers and Agents must not be blinkered.

    Quality teamwork – Agents and Conveyancers. Let’s get the deals done!

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    Smile please. The whole point of an auction type pack is that it is exchange ready and that means exchange can happen immedaiately. Just like it does in the auction room on the fall of the gavel. There is nothing that a buyer's solicitor has to do except check through the paperwork which can usually be done in a couple of hours.

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    Rob may well be a class act Tim, but as you have highlighted its the industry in general i and many others have an issue with.

    We can discuss all day bad conveyancers, bad estate agents but upshot is once a sale is agreed it is on average 12 - 14 weeks to completion and that is far too long.

    Hate to repeat myself but it is the conveyancers that hold it up for all the reasons you have highlighted above.

    It not a personal attack on you or Rob, but denying there is an issue within the process and most of it is attitude or lack of proactive means as opposed to new tech is the real issue.

    I for one do not remember sales going through at any greater speed when we had HIPs - All it did was stop people coming to the market which is why they were abolished.

    If i could start a conveyancing firm tomorrow i would hike fees up by at least 50% invest in advertising (not a doctors waiting room or small advert in the paper, proper advertising). Give each conveyancer at least one assistant. implement a CRM system which highlighted whats needed to be done when. Make my conveyancers use the telephone for outbound calls. Build relationships with the agents (not monetary) to help chase outstanding documents.

    Conveyancers no doubt have to be process driven but the also need to look at service which whether you like it or not is sadly lacking as an industry.

    Richard, good luck with your home made exchange pack, let us know how it goes. But do not be surprised if it is not as smooth as you imagined

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    Smile Please (anonymous) -

    It is a personal attack, as you do not clearly distinguish between some and all conveyancers, and you divert attention away from the estate agent.

    How many weeks/months does it take an estate agent to do their role.....to find a buyer? Actually, the critique is not so much the time it takes, but has there been any unnecessary delay/slowness.

    Curiously - and I may try it one day - when I am instructed at the same time as a property is placed on the market...how many times do you get a call from a conveyancer to say:

    "Can I have an update please?"

    "So, have you loaded up the Rightmove adverts? "

    "Have you given my client feedback on viewings?"

    "How much interest has there been this week?"

    "Not sure the offer is form a good enough buyer as...."

    Never, not once I bet. I would not dream of actually making such a call. Because it is your job, and you are meant to know best. You also can only work at the pace your other customers allow you to.

    But what I do know, is that there are slow Agents, just as we both know there are slow conveyancers. By the time we get given the deal to make legally sound, you may well have wasted months finding a buyer.

    So in both our own industries, we just need to make sure the Agent and the Conveyancer are the best they can be at what they do.

    Your ideas for a conveyancing firm - e.g increased price? It won't work, as the quality of your conveyancers' will let you down, every single time. As I bet you won’t employ quality. I bet you'll put profit first. You will need to buy work like the volume outfits do as it would not otherwise come to you - as......your ideas are nothing new.

    If we address my reasons above for why we have slow conveyancers, and slow Agents, then we really do get an improved home moving process.

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