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Tim Higham
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my expertise in the industry

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Tim Higham
Just my own views: 1. be careful - electronic ID systems may prove a person exists, but not that the person in front of you is who they say they are 2. collating is easy, it is then about reading the forms to make sure there are no gaps not just missing enclosures but likely enquiries as answers are vague or misleading - rarely done by selling conveyancers I feel 3. Will distract from just getting on with the conveyancing 4. Even now conveyancers fail to secure mortgage money the day before. Not a workable amendment. 5. Make LPE1 the mandatory form with a set cost. 6. Unworkable. Encourage conveyancers to actually read the documents to anticipate likely buyer enquiries. This means the conveyancers who have poor legal training need to be removed from conveyancing. 7. Searches are good as they are. Many that exist are not appropriate to involve conveyancers in (flooding for example, and environmental too to be honest, but we do the latter none the less) 8. Agreed. 9. No objection 10. Agreed. 11. No objection, though valuers need to be paid more or of course they will cover themselves with vague expressions, disclaimers, and passing the buck to the borrower’s conveyancer 12. No portal. Absolute red herring. Veyo! Robotic impersonal conveyor belt, dumbing down conveyancing – which is why standards are already so low, the quality of the human lawyer currently allowed to do the work is the root of the problem with conveyancing. NEW IDEAS: 13. Claims and complaints must be published for all to see by conveyancing firms every year in order to be able to offer public paying conveyancing. 14. Referral agreements, parties to them and payments made per organization per year, to be published every year, for all to see. To be able to offer public paying conveyancing 15. Conveyancing quotes must identify: a. Are they a solicitor firm, and if not, which organization are they instead b. In all cases, WHO will be the conveyancer c. The conveyancer’s qualification d. A Senior Partner professional Undertaking to the above effect 16. To be able to offer conveyancing, organisations are banned from acting for the buyer and seller in the same transaction 17. CML Handbook to discourage use of legal indemnity insurances as that dumbs down the process/excuses shoddy conveyancing, and masks legal defects/wastes the public's money 18. We need a new edition of the Standard Conditions to: a. penalise a seller – contract rate apportionment for every extra day - if more than 10 working days were taken to dispatch contract, transfer, requisitions, TA forms b. penalise a seller if the leasehold management pack is not requested within 10 working days of instruction c. penalise a seller if buyer enquiries take more than 10 working days to be returned in full 19. CQS to be brought in line with the physical inspections carried out by Lexcel 20. CILEX and CLC to bring in an equivalent accreditation, and inspection to 23. 21. Conveyancing quotes must only be in two parts - to be able to offer public paying conveyancing : a. A COMBINED total for the conveyancers own profit charge e.g i. filling in a stamp duty return ii. acting for a mortgage company iii. repaying mortgages iv. additional enquiries asked v. unregistered title charge (that one makes me cross -smacks of a mediocre conveyancer) vi. leasehold title vii. Help2Buy viii. LSAP ix. bank transfer fees b. Third party expenses 22. Estate Agents must not even mention (let alone dictate the choice of) any conveyancer that has to be used in their contract with a seller, or a similar condition imposed on the buyer for having their offer put forward. 23. A single Online Mortgage Portal for collecting law firm data so lenders liaise with the Professional Bodies for what data needs to be kept/submitted. 24. Professional Bodies to make a rule that conveyancers should establish which lender a client intends to use, and to warn them that they could face having to pay a second legal fee if the conveyancer is not on the approved panel, and to suggest they may wish to consider a conveyancer who is. This gives the client the choice - a more informed one so they really do know they could have avoided two fees 25. Conveyancing Protocol to be adopted and made mandatory by all Professional Bodies, and amended so: a. Transfers and Replies to Requisitions to be sent out with the contract papers. b. Law firms should be encouraged not to wait for search money to be received. c. Law firms should be encouraged not to use letters if there are no enclosures d. NO exchange of contracts until the seller supplies a copy of their client signed contract and transfer – redacted for security of course . e. Sellers to always supply conditional planning consents, whatever the age (i.e not the buyer’s job) 26. Review of the use of online case tracking and whether it is simply a way to avoid client interaction with ticks, instead of actually and personally alerting clients on a weekly basis of what is going on. 27. HMLR to alert lenders when they receive an AP1/FR1, and then once registered

From: Tim Higham 29 November 2016 10:48 AM

Tim Higham
The mindset of groaning when a conveyancer telephones a conveyancer has to stop. Why? Because Agents can be a real asset to a conveyancers work, but more particularly, conveyancers need to realise that Estate Agents do not get paid until the conveyancer exchanges contracts, so having handed the baton to the conveyancer with all their weeks of hard work, wouldn't you expect them to be worried the conveyancer may prove mediocre (e.g going too slow, poorly trained in conveyancing, a case handler unable to make decisions without sign-off) and so drop the baton and scupper the deal. Having written about this very thing - http://www.trethowans.com/site/people/profile/tim.higham - it is crucial that conveyancers go back to chasing deals through. We have now set a target of 4 weeks maximum to exchange of contracts on all transactions now, as quite simply put, it can be done....or we wouldn't attempt it. We save so much time: 1. we don't charge more for being instructed at the same time the estate agent is (so we can prepare, and study the deeds for likely issues), in fact we don't charge our time at all if sellers change their mind and don't accept any offers. 2. we apply as early as possible for leasehold management packs 3. we recruit standalone highly trained lawyers who make instant conveyancing decisions 4. we aim to despatch contract papers the same day as instructed and 5. we so often return around buyer enquiries by return of email. As for communication with Agents, it is fundamental, they are a real benefit to the role of the conveyancer. We constantly cc agents to emails to the other lawyers - giving them a weekly update on top too - enabling them to know in full detail - not silly tick box online updates which even a tradesman selling a certain software package once said to me "the agents love the tick boxes; tells them nothing, but they don't call you"...which made me furious, as we want everyone to be informed in detail, not 'applied for searches 'tick', sent out contracts 'tick'. Instead real detail agents can paste or forward to their own clients. We even get emails from the parties in the chain saying they have seen our email and complaining their own lawyers don't update like we do, and can we help them!? But never rushing, just, expertly prompt. Clients get exchanges, agents get paid...and oh, so do we.

From: Tim Higham 16 November 2016 21:25 PM

Tim Higham

From: Tim Higham 25 August 2016 07:56 AM

Tim Higham

From: Tim Higham 04 July 2016 09:22 AM

Tim Higham
All I know is that the public are being sold nonsense 'initiatives' from so many sectors of the property market, even the highest ranks in the conveyancing market, from failed IT systems publicised with £Ms budget, to unnecessary data conveyancing searches. We are constantly fixing errors made by other legal 'conveyancing' outfits who fail to employ actual Solicitors and Legal Executives, but instead focus on IT as a substitute. Odd, as the legal work to record a person owning a house contains law, nothing to do with IT. Somewhat ironic that many of the factory style outfits operating huge volumes of conveyancing are the ones who don't even reply to email, or even have their individual conveyancer emails on their letterheads. Missing rights of access to the house. Breaches of Council planning consents or title deed restrictions are rife, because legal outfits have focussed on the latest way to generate a standard letter to a client in a milli second quicker fashion, than getting the law right with qualified lawyers. A mediocre conveyancer with the best IT, is still a mediocre lawyer. Solution? The public should demand their conveyancer is employed by a Solicitor firm. Sorry but I face conveyancers on an hourly basis each and every day, and that is my advice to family and friends, let alone fee paying public. Don't be fooled by IT systems. It means the conveyancer will br taking on volume, not personal service. And where close scrutiny of legal documents is replaced by a square peg for a round hole study of the legal papers. Hope that helps. Good luck home movers, enjoy the new property in 2016.

From: Tim Higham 28 April 2016 07:56 AM

Tim Higham

From: Tim Higham 13 April 2016 08:03 AM

Tim Higham

From: Tim Higham 09 April 2016 21:30 PM

Tim Higham
Sadly, some of the corporate agents (the lower value chains, or independents run by ex-corporate) we know are all about what lawyer can cash bung them the highest, no care at ALL about offering the public a good lawyer. Fine, accept a payment, as many firms pay such fees, but the agent must not be driven only by that and not a desire to refer to a quality law firm paying it. Sadly, so often they want to refer to the highest paying law firm. Cash bung is powerful. Ignore the backlash that so many face, the slow deals, the legal errors made. Who cares must be their response. Knowing this cash bung attitude, legal outfits exist where they bung high payments or even own the Agent, and because they are limited on the legal fee they can charge their client (though some will overcharge) they employ inferior trained 'lawyers' (with no realistic legal knowledge at all) to ensure they can still make a profit per house move. BUT they have to do vast quantities. But that is ok, they bung massive payments left right and centre and in it floods. Then the legal outfits can claim they are the moat popular in the country.....which of course is dreadfully misleading. Again the public suffer, as these outfits will name themselves as a lawyer, and the public think 'i have a solicitor now' - sadly no where close. Meanwhile, the actual solicitor firms look after the smart home movers who actually demand they secure a solicitor firm. Where they are given an actual named lawyer as their own for the whole deal. Where the lawyers have qualification in law and are legal error free. These firms build a relationship with the agent and client and the deals are prompt and expert. The cash bung agent/inferior lawyer deals take longer, attract bad PR to everyone, and legal errors occur, usually once the client moves in and gets a knock on the door, or on resale/refinancing. But it wont change as too many people are making vast sums of money off gullible public.too many vested interests protecting the bung arrangement. You'll tell who they are by how they defend it.

From: Tim Higham 09 April 2016 09:32 AM

Tim Higham
@ Graham Coton Thank you. Just to pick up on your comment, "the majority of transactions are very very straightforward". If only. It would certainly remove the transactional stress from the conveyancer if that were remotely true. Sadly the majority of work in any conveyancer’s cabinet is not straightforward. And that is a recent phenomena, since the downturn in 2007 I would say. If they are straightforward in anyone’s cabinet, the conveyancer better have their files checked by a senior colleague, and quick. In London – leasehold deals dominate, and so frequently defective leases are not spotted when the seller bought, absence of Council consents for the conversion/build, alterations without landlord/Council consent, or service charge issues that slow things down. The list goes on. Out of City – aside from the above, so much of the complexity is either down to mistakes made by the seller’s own conveyancer missing things when they bought, as it is due to that same conveyancer badly reporting to the seller. Badly reporting? For example, the seller may well have created the issues during their ownership because their own lawyer never told them (e.g) that they have covenants in their freehold preventing extensions without covenantee/neighbour consent, and that has to be resolved. Or they failed to obtain Council consent. Even because of the attitude of conveyancers being slow, not understanding the issues etc, a deal can be far from straightforward. Typical conveyancer mistakes first time around are so often: 1. Defective legal access 2. Missing title to part of the garden 3. Absence of Council consents BUT having said all the above – they can appear straightforward IF you have an expert conveyancer who knows what to instantly do to get that prompt solution. Now, if those conveyancers were “very very” commonplace, then you COULD say "the majority of transactions are very very straightforward". Unfortunately, I cannot see that happening.

From: Tim Higham 24 February 2016 12:16 PM

Tim Higham
Dear Estate Agents How wrong. We DO NOT blame you in the slightest for the slow speed of house sales/purchases. The spotlight must in fact be on the Conveyancer – as the quality among them ranges wildly. It is wrong to even mention estate agents in a discussion about home moving delays. You do a crucial job getting the sale to offer, but it is when some conveyancers take over that your great efforts are then so often wasted/tarnished, as so many conveyancers take over and exhibit appalling and insufficient legal skills to even be allowed to offer a fee charging service to the public, and so cause delay, or worse yet, abortion of the whole deal. This is because of their inability to spot (let alone solve) legal issues, a lack of understanding of even the basics of conveyancing procedure, an inability to make instant decisions because the only one qualified to do so in their office (an actual solicitor) only walks by once a week to ‘sign off’ files. Sadly, when the downturn hit in 2007, conveyancing firms made many of their own staff redundant, and those ex-employees had to retrain out of the legal market, as no one was hiring as the downturn was lasting and lasting (5 years I fact). Certainly no new conveyancers were therefore entering the market either. But when transactions started to rise again, conveyancers thought the best way to keep economical was to hire cheap employees without any legal training – yet devilishly they would still charge the public the same price – and over time they promised themselves they would train these employees in-house. Sadly, the more they recruited with rising transaction levels, the one thing they forgot to do, and now have no time to do, was…..to train the employees. As a result, there are conveyancing businesses whose teams are dominated by conveyancers who are not actual Solicitors, or Legal Executives, or even a law degree, in fact, almost nil legal training. Low standards have therefore swept the conveyancing market. The public have a difficult job in weeding out who is good. Mediocre businesses know that repeat business is unlikely, and so they employ very persuasive marketeers to continuously bring in new work…to attend high footfall public events, to offer huge financial payments to buy the referral, to seek bulk work contracts etc. And yet, the end user suffers – the public, who are none the wiser of who is doing their legal work, as the public understandably think ‘I have a lawyer’. Consequently, to reduce the wrong conveyancer becoming part of the conveyancing chain and risking your hard work to date, you CAN HELP, PLEASE: 1. When a member of the public seeks a recommendation for a conveyancer, please consider the quality of who you are recommending. One way is right now, just put their name into Google and add the word ‘review’. Scary reading, as you recommend them, and it tarnishes you too. 2. Even dynamic conveyancers pay referral fees 3. Please promote this from your chosen conveyancer: we offer our clients there very own named conveyancer who stays the same start to finish. Who makes instant decisions, who freely offers their own personal email and direct telephone number. We make our whole conveyancing team publicly accountable and accessible, with no hiding behind an anonymous website. Let’s get those property deals exchanged. Kind regards TRETHOWANS RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY TEAM - http://www.trethowans.com/site/services_for_you/property/

From: Tim Higham 24 February 2016 10:02 AM

Tim Higham
Matt - do please explain your distinction between solicitors who practice conveyancing and licensed conveyancers? (Be careful not to be libelous, but I would be interested to hear what you have to say) 4.20pm is the current CHAPS cut off now I see, but I am aware of so many firms stopping at 3.30pm. So 6pm will mean 5.10pm? But the reality is that extending the time needs to be backed with a guarantee of specific timed receipt (e.g it will take 10 minutes) as I would be loath to send money after 3.30pm anyway, as goodness knows when the seller will claim to receive it. Imagine sending payment at 6pm...what use is that to a seller, nothing. Only 'receipt' is. And as likely is that the selling lawyer will go home. The 'gone home conveyancer' is an increasing breed. You might argue that fact of sending the money should be enough for a seller to rely on, but so too would an undertaking not to send it but to hold it to their order until the next day - the current system used for payments being unable to be made after close of CHAPS. Actually invoking the SCs to allow simple occupation is often too, which we find as successful. BUT - too many conveyancers are not trained in the undertakings procedure or are not confident enough to even be bothered to pick up the phone and care about people outside houses who are trying to work out a solution. Not so long ago, we had a conveyancer selling to us who called to ask us what to do for their own onward passing of the undertakings!!? A local firm to one of our offices too. My suspicion is that all this is a storm in a teacup and not much will change (i.e unwillingness to send money late in the day and thus losing control of it until the next day). By lose control I mean the reliance on the selling lawyer to acknowledge it.....which will becomne an issue, because....they wil ahve gone home. Watch for the increase in the 'gone home conveyancer'. 'The 5pm answerphone brigade' However, thankfully, only about twice a year we witness funds being unable to be sent by 3.30pm. And the reason is invariably someone did not secure mortgage funds a day early. There will be conveyancers now who read that and think, but I don't secure funds the day before!!? My solution? I don't think there is much of a problem to address. I do think many conveyancers handle their completions very carelessly, including (can you believe) not calling the other lawyer to even confirm receipt of the money. But those conveyancers are not just careless on completion, that is their typical working method. Its about undiluting who can be conveyancers and allowed to offer their legal services. Better legal training. Sadly nothing is on the horizon for that. Those at the highest level think the solution to improve conveyancing is to offer up IT portals and deal rooms. Ignoring that fact that a shoddy conveyancer is still a shoddy conveyancer with all the bells and whistle IT gizmos they can have. Insist on dynamic, expert conveyancers, and conveyancing quality generally will start to improve - and if you are a business owner working with conveyancers like that, you will suffer less stress, fewer deals will abort, and their quality can only help yours.

From: Tim Higham 09 January 2016 21:33 PM

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