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Transaction times slashed and fall-throughs cut by new agents toolkit

The National Association of Estate Agents has launched its Sales Protocol Toolkit, in a bid to reduce fall-throughs and dramatically improve transaction times.

The kit, introduced at the NAEA conference yesterday, has been road tested with 200 completed transactions in the Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire areas with startling results.

The average transaction time dropped from as much as 40 weeks to only eight weeks, but the NAEA’s ultimate target is to get that down to a mere 14 days.


The association worked with other agents, conveyancers, the Law Society, The Property Ombudsman and NTSELAT to finesse the documents involved in the pack.

Simon Wilkinson, a partner at agency Wilkinson in Leighton Buzzard, is the NAEA board member who has steered through the pilot programme.

In an interview with Estate Agent Today at the conference he said that the launch of the toolkit marks the start of agents across the country operating it.

It works like this:

- a vendor is emailed a 16 page Property Information Questionnaire which they can complete either before the agent pays a home visit to measure and take photographs, or work through it with the agent at the property. This helps get the property ‘market ready’;

- at the same time the vendor is encouraged to instruct a conveyancer who will assist the vendor getting title deeds and other up-front information and identify problems - missing building regs documents and the like;

- once a prospective buyer has expressed interest, he or she then receives this upfront information, allowing them and their conveyancer to identify areas of concern - if any - or to have comfort that the appropriate documentation is in place; 

- a single-page Declaration of Offer subject to contract is then completed by the would-be buyer, giving conveyancer details, status on the sale of their existing property, and details of funding to purchase the vendor’s home;

- a single-page Memorandum of Sale is sent to all parties as soon as a sale is agreed in principle. This would include details of vendor and buyer, chain details, a link to property details and additional information about the property.

“In time - some time off but it will happen eventually - as much as 80 per cent of the details in this online paperwork can be automatically completed by the likes of the Land Registry’s Digital Street project and by portals which will carry a lot of this basic information on every property. The systems will be linked up” says Wilkinson.

The pack will now be circulated to NAEA members and has been designed to comply with CPRs.

  • Rob Hailstone

    Did the seller's conveyancer use the 16 page Property Information Questionnaire, or did they still have to use the Law Society TA6 questionnaire as well?

    No mention of any actual chain sheet, just chain details. Would that not also help?

  • Bryan Mansell

    Will the seller have to print the 16 pages or can they complete it online?

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    Sadly this is again just picking at the edges. The root cause of fall throughs in the majority of cases is that the legal system is simply too slow, with solicitors still being arrogant and unhelpful. In a chain of three, which is not uncommon, a single person using this system will still have to move at the slowest pace. Taking too long to exchange allows buyers way too much time to change their minds, circumstances to change and so on...all whilst the conveyancer is at home having their tea at 5.15, or off playing golf. How many homebuyers are going to pay a conveyancer to do paid work for them before going on the market? Well, they won't have to now as agents will be doing it for free! It is also quite dangerous ground for agents to tread! How many agents can really interpret a legal document...its a recipe for leaving you exposed to the law.

    Sadly, the protocol here just moves the onus of responsibility from solicitor to agent, meaning we will end up doing more of their work for them, rather than finding a way of compelling a solicitor to get their fingers out and act in the modern world. We already do enough yet the industry stake holders always point the finger of blame at the estate agent profession rather than the legal profession...will they ever change?...no, not until legislation compels them to do so.

  • Rob Hailstone

    I regularly interact with thousands of conveyancers. I don’t know any who go off playing golf during office hours or sit down for their tea at 5.15 (does anyone?). I do know many who work early, late and at weekends.

    As far as I am aware the agent won't be doing the work or taking on more responsibility, they will be starting the process that collects information and documentation that will be validated by the conveyancer.

  • Iain Harrison

    Agree with Andrew Richardson that the cause of the problem is the archaic legal system and solicitors/conveyancers who aren't up to the job of handling the number of transactions that they take on, plus they still rely on information coming into them before they'll do anything...we need pro-active conveyancers who get on with the transaction as soon as they have client instructions, searches can be submitted immediately which invariably saves weeks (we use conveyancers who have searches back before they've even had the draft contract paperwork in) but until all conveyancers/solicitors work like this we'll still be at the mercy of the slowest of them

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    All that is being said is to instruct a lawyer early, which is so common place now anyway, but surely not to now have the estate agent do more work and wear a legal advisers hat – that is scary for them - as:

    As a home seller, I would be furious if a non-lawyer EMAILS me a 16 page form to fill in because:
    (1) I want to discuss it with my spouse at a table, not have to print it off for one
    (2) I want LEGAL advice before/while filling it in (or my answers checked by a lawyer) as I know for a fact that when I send it back by email it won’t be read on screen to check my answers so I might be saying too much and lead to an abortive deal where it need not have aborted (or exposed on answers years ino the future where I need not have answered as I did)

    So….instead……just instruct a lawyer at the start, as IT COSTS NOTHING EXTRA - why would they think it would. When a lawyer is instructed is irrelevant to the fee. We wish conveyancers were not instructed only when an offer is accepted, as that always loses so many conveyancing firms at least 2 weeks while papers have to be found etc.

    So…can estate agents please tell their selling clients to instruct - Trethowans.com :o) - the conveyancer at the point of marketing, as we will not be charging them any more, instead we will shave weeks off the deal by being prepared and ready to go the moment a buyer has been found, having anticipated the legal issues and having answers ready.

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    I was at the NAEA on Thursday and they were going on about new forms ... so in a quite moment when button holed in the exhibitors area I said to a senior bod,

    'This just shows the disconnect that exists in the real estate space in the UK, and why we are going to have more dinosaur situations very soon.'

    Committees are staring at their navels while people like Riccardo Iannucci-Dawson who is 27 years old, has with his co-founder Craig Massey a man of my age - coded their way using proptech to a place where properties exchange in 168 hours - 7 days - yourkeys.'

    Later on I someone kindly said they could talk me through the new bits of paper that the NAEA are dreaming up and the RoPA group.

    I just said, ' do you realise right now within two miles of this building there are dozens of bright people solving all the problems, using mathematics, data, machine learning artificial intelligence, IoT, blockchain applications, the days of talk talk of the last century are being replaced by a technological revolution which is outstripping trade organisations, quasi institutions that help the real estate industry, and outstripping the Victorian pace at which the Brexit bound parliament can enact property legislation.'

    'Time for less dinosaurs, less ivory towers, less we know better because we are the property professionals and more - How do we make ourselves relevant to the needs of our clients and customers. How can technology be our friend, how can we digitally transform our businesses into fit for purpose vehicles that will make profit and help the industry move forward. Time to hang around the new kids on the block, who I meet daily in my work, as I take the time to find out what is really going on.'

    He went off to get some more sandwiches and a cup of tea ...


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