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Upfront material information pilot cuts conveyancing time in half

A year-long pilot of using upfront material Information by conveyancer Thomas Legal and search provider Conveyancing Data Services, a part of tmgroup, shows transaction times reduced by up to 80 days.

The 12-month pilot in England, completed with a partnership of six offices from a leading, global, independent estate agent, included more than 120 property sales. 

The time taken from heads of terms to exchange was reduced from the national average of 133 days to between 63 and 83 days, the brands said.


For the agent, the difference in transaction time for properties from sale agreed to exchange in and out of the pilot was 51 days.

The results support similar findings north of the border, where the Scottish Home Report has already seen average property transactions now take four weeks less than in England and Wales, and fall-throughs reduce by 60%, according to tmgroup.

As part of the trial, CDS pulled together data from sources including Land Registry and local authorities. Once complete, this information can be exchanged with all authorised stakeholders to get the seller’s legal preparations underway while a buyer is being secured. It also provides material facts disclosure to potential buyers to inform their purchase decisions.

Richard Pickles, tmgroup’s sales director, said: “By providing information more transparently, earlier in the conveyancing process, and in a format acceptable to both sides, the pilot proves using upfront material information could bring about the change bodies like the Home Buying and Selling Group have been urgently calling for. I am not at all surprised by the results.”

Simon David, chairman of Thomas Legal, added: “Obtaining search information at the point the property comes on the market already puts us up to four weeks ahead of the game. 

“Critically, when a buyer is found, that search information can be supplied by CDS in the buyer’s name. This helped us overcome a huge potential stumbling block. 

“Another potential issue, that of local authority searches expiring after 6 months and potentially before exchange, has also been avoided by CDS agreeing to refresh search details after 6 months at often little and sometimes zero additional cost. “That was another huge tick.“

The pilot is now ongoing and expanding, with16 of the estate agent’s offices currently involved both in London and nationally. 

David added: “For agents, using upfront material information means buyers are more qualified, transactions are completed quicker and commission comes sooner to improve cashflow. We believe, as in Scotland, we’ll see less fall through too.

“From a conveyancing perspective, a well-run, tech-driven law firm can put more junior members on cases because using the material information you can assess the risk related to a property transaction right at the beginning. This means more qualified solicitors can focus on the purchase work – typically the higher ticket items. That makes good commercial sense.
“In conveyancing terms, embracing using upfront material information means getting agreed terms and the swathe of forms that sellers find so tiresome completed quickly and without fuss using the best tech available. 

“For the past two years especially, local authorities have struggled to deal with enquiries and law firms have had too much work on their plates which has slowed the conveyancing process right down. The current timescale of complete uncertainty is no good to anyone. Here is a proven solution.”


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