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Graham Awards


Conveyancer attacks “outdated” and “age old processes”

The director of a conveyancing technology company has hit out at what he calls “an over-reliance on outdated processes” and “age-old search delays” for hold-ups in processing transactions in the housing market.

Andy Sommerville, director of Search Acumen, says the now well-publicised combination of pent up demand from the spring lockdown and the stamp duty holiday have presented conveyancers with challenges. 

Sommerville says the SDLT deadline of next March, in particular, has meant that public bodies have been swamped with requests.


And in a strongly-worded statement he says this has meant organisations including local councils and HM Land Registry have struggled to keep up. 

He says: “Further, an overreliance on outdated processes has meant that age-old search delays are rearing their ugly head – slowing down the transaction process and threatening to hamper the benefits of the stamp duty scheme.”

Sommerville continues: “It is time the government acted decisively by tackling recurring delays in the property market through proper investment and an acceleration of its digitisation programme. While this won’t be resolved by March 31 2021, an industry-wide change in mindset is required now – not to mention a new approach to leveraging the available technology to harness the data at our fingertips.

“We saw evidence of an increase in firms adopting digital practices as a result of the pandemic. What’s needed now is commitment by all parties to collaborate, adopt the right technologies and build a more efficient property market. Only then will we be able to identify risks upfront, reduce uncertainty and progress transactions more effectively in the long term.”

His comments come after Search Acumen produced a market snapshot of the conveyancing sector, saying it has “regained its footing” in the third quarter of the year as demand returned to the property market.

The snapshot report says: “The [Search Acumen tracker] shows conveyancing volumes rose sharply by 105 per cent over the last quarter, climbing to 169,143 registered transactions in Q3 2020, up from 82,385 in Q2 2020. July was the busiest month, with 61,587 transactions completed.

"The surge can be largely attributed to the re-opening of the housing market following the spring lockdown, with the government’s stamp duty announcement likely to drive higher transaction volumes during the remainder of the year as consumers looked to take advantage of tax savings.”


    I wholeheartedly agree. The universal digitisation of LLC and Con29 data is vital and would allow the search process to be concluded in 5 minutes rather than 5 weeks. When considers that 98% plus of Searches contain nothing that is even worth advising the client on it is ridiculous that this element of the process is causing such delay.

  • Lenny White

    The situation will never change (peaks and troughs excepted) until England goes through a Land Reform Act to enable offer acceptance to be legally binding as it is in Scotland and as it is with property auctions in England.

    The amount of damage emotionally and financially to the consumer public would be unacceptable in any other market caused by falling chains and failed sales.

    It is an embarrassment to our legal system.

  • Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    in the meantime better collaboration between conveyancer and estate agent is required to enable the delivery of more information up front to better prepare home movers and help transactions get on a firm footing.


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