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Agents unfairly blamed for failings of 'antiquated conveyancing system'

The founder of a new online sales assistance service says agents are often unfairly blamed by the public for failings in "a fragmented, antiquated and fundamentally broken conveyancing system."

Tom Holmes - a former staff member at HouseSimple - now works on PropTech conveyancing startup Keyzee. 

In an article on the changing agency landscape, which he has shared with Estate Agent Today, he says online agents backed by large marketing budgets and supportive reviews have attempted to disrupt the traditional business models surrounding sales and lettings.

But he insists the moving process will remain unfriendly for consumers without conveyancing changing too.

Holmes says that good agents routinely intervene to help push the legal aspects of a deal along but "in reality they are at the mercy of the conveyancers acting for either side — yet will still have to bear the brunt of the discontent from their clients for the frustration they have to endure in achieving their goal of actually moving house."

He adds that there is much in the current conveyancing process that adds little value to anybody and "which could be dealt with much more simply (and quickly) or in some cases just left out completely."

Homes says: "In addition to the fact that the majority of conveyancing transactions are dealt with according to a standard format — the Law Society Standard Conditions of Sale — the arguments for fundamentally reimagining and automating this process are overwhelming"

The United States has tackled 'disruption' of the sales process more effectively, he suggests, because realtors must not only market a property but also act for their clients in the legal transfer of a title once a sale has been agreed.

He says that companies like his, creating a system of automated conveyancing and providing it to estate agents, the agents then have additional influence over transactions without the costs of becoming conveyancers or partnering with existing conveyancers. 

"The benefits to both agent and client are significant — not least in the experience of having a single point of contact for the client and an agent who owns each of their clients for the entire home moving journey" he claims.

You can read Holmes' article in full here.

  • Rob Hailstone

    Below is part of a blog written by Sally Holdway (Founder Keyzee and legal futurist):

    "I attended a property auction this week. When the hammer falls, the buyer is legally committed. The property is theirs, warts and all. If there is a nasty restrictive covenant, or a local search entry about a breached planning condition, tough luck. None of this seemed to bother any the 300 or so people sitting in the auction room, or impact the 85 properties which were sold within a 2 hours period of frenzied bidding activity.

    How many times does Martyn off Homes Under the Hammer chastise a buyer for not reading the legal pack of an auction property. How many times does he return ‘later in the programme’ to find that the buyer has still managed to secure themselves a nice profit of £50k despite this glaring error?

    First point, property auctions, on the whole, undergo the conveyancing process. An auction pack is prepared (documents of title, searches, enquiries etc) and (despite what Martyn might say) most buyers have had that checked over by their own conveyancer before they make a bid.

    Second point, most legal problems can be resolved over time and with additional cost. Far better and safer to resolve them before you commit to buy. However, some legal problems can’t be resolved. Why take the risk when a huge amount of money is at stake?

    If auctions prove one thing, providing information up front is one way to speed up the conveyancing process.

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    "If auctions prove one thing, providing information up front is one way to speed up the conveyancing process." So very true and generally speaking, so very easy to do too. We need either another exchange ready 'home information pack' but without a survey or better, one with a survey but this time around the mortgage providers obliged to accept the word of a properly licensed, qualified and insured surveyor. Rogue surveyors would soon be struck off, their insurance paying out any lender losses.

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