The Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday has been a hot topic of conversation for many in the residential property industry – but are there stormy skies ahead as the end date of March 31 2021 draws closer?
As transactions continue on their upward trajectory, I believe we must see the conveyancing and estate agency sectors collaborating closer than ever before, to ensure all completions occur before the deadline.
Attacking the anticipated lengthy transactions times will be critical for all concerned, and we’ll see many ‘burning the midnight oil’ in the months that lie ahead.
The financial losses suffered as a result of lockdown will clearly be incentivising large numbers to close as many deals as possible between now and the end of March next year.
We know that conveyancing firms are already inundated thanks to the current frenetic market. However, the possibility of conveyancers closing their doors to new business because they are simply too overwhelmed by the large volumes of transactions is already becoming a reality for some.
We must do all we can to prevent this and to ensure the transactions that do proceed do so as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Now, more than ever, there are two key elements of the conveyancing process that could change and facilitate a superior handover and – ultimately – speed up the whole process.
Firstly, there needs to be a real ‘joining of forces’, a big shift in the estate agent and conveyancer working relationship.
It is property data that has the power to unite them, with estate agents now having the opportunity to furnish conveyancers with as much salient information as possible.
Crucially, this can be at property listing stage rather than waiting until an offer has been agreed between the buyer and seller.
Unrivalled data can help to provide real insight into a property, helping the conveyancer to answer questions such as: ‘how can I gain a real understanding of the property I am transacting?’ which can only support the process.
Ultimately, the buyer needs to truly value the data being presented to them in order to make the appropriate purchase decisions.
I believe that agents shouldn’t underestimate the benefits of providing the best possible handover to the conveyancer.
Consider that the conveyancer is unlikely to ever visit the property they are being asked to transact, so in addition to the Memorandum of Sale and EPC, agents should share photos, floorplans, a street view of the correct property, video tours or 3D walkthroughs, planning and build history and any Land Registry title information.
The easier agents make the conveyancer’s initial file set-up and the better their grasp of the areas they need to investigate, the quicker they will be able start, with the desired outcome of attacking transaction times.
The second major shift is to see sellers engaging a conveyancer at the time their property goes on the market, so that all the necessary documentation is in place when a sale is agreed.
I am sure that the most progressive agents are already actioning this and extolling its virtues upon vendors from the first valuation meeting.
In a challenging environment where every process and every activity seems to be impacted by delay, helping conveyancers to get the job done as efficiently as possible has become mission critical.
The time is here for all parties involved to come together as one team in a bid to create a smoother house buying process and ultimately, it is up to the estate agent to initialise the process.
*Matt Gilpin is Founder and CEO at Sprift