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By Beth Rudolf

Director of Delivery, Conveyancing Association


Why people want plain speaking and clear comms in times of trouble

It’s fair to say that ours is an industry which has a language of its own, and often revels in the technical, the acronyms, abbreviations, and such like, which litter our everyday discussions.

Unfortunately, at a time of considerable uncertainty and instability – as we are seeing now – what clients want (and need) is plain speaking, simple communication and a clear understanding of what is actually happening, how it truly impacts them, and what they can do about it.

To say that conveyancing firms have been inundated with calls and emails from worried clients seeking this over the last week would be an understatement. At a time when resource was already spread thin, this has been a huge undertaking for firms in trying to help clients understand what their situation is.


I suspect, indeed I know, that everyone else within the ‘chain’ – be they agents, advisers, lenders, etc – will have be dealing with the same thing. It’s why we need to get our communication absolutely spot on, in order to try and assuage some of the worries, and to provide clarity for those who may be worrying needlessly.

Clearly, it’s understandable why many people are concerned. First up, is the fact that most people only ever have a small number of engagements with the property market over their lifetime, be that every few years when they might remortgage, or indeed for many, only when they are purchasing a home perhaps every couple of decades, if that. It means their understanding is limited.

Secondly is, of course, where they access their information. The vast majority of the media are excellent in terms of trying to help consumers understand the process, what it might mean for individuals, and how they might be individually impacted. But many people simply read headlines and, as mentioned, they don’t understand the lexicon of language used in the property industry.

For instance, if we talk about ‘offers being pulled’, what offers are we talking about? For the purchaser, they could believe that the mortgage offer they thought they had secured may be pulled – which leads to worry, stress and calls to practitioners. Or as a seller, are they talking about the purchaser withdrawing their offer to buy, which leads to worry, stress and calls to practitioners.

In that sense, we have a duty and obligation here to be clear about what is going on. Are mortgage offers being pulled by lenders? The answer is no. People who have secured their offers are having those offers honoured, and as lenders are pulling rates and products, most are providing advisers with the opportunity to put in mortgage applications in order to secure the previous product range/pricing.

That is a message that needs to be spread far and wide, because conveyancers (and others I suspect) are dealing with lots of information requests around this, not just from those who need the mortgage to purchase, but sellers concerned that their purchaser won’t be able to get a mortgage.

Now, of course, it may be a very different situation for those clients who haven’t secured their mortgage offer, and we need to communicate that. With product ranges/pricing being changed as we speak, those who are looking to purchase are going to need to fully understand that what they can afford to buy in this new environment, might not be what they previously believed.

Securing that confirmation upfront is going to be vital in order for them to proceed, simply because higher rates change affordability criteria, and lenders will be treating borrowers differently because of this.

One other point to make and clients need to be aware of, is around the extension of mortgage offers. Particularly pertinent in the new-build space, but potentially an issue going forward for second-hand properties, clients who have already extended their mortgage offer once or twice as a result of the property not being completed on time, may find the lender won’t agree to a further extension, and/or the client not meeting new affordability criteria based on new pricing.

Conveyancing firms active in the new-build space have received a lot of calls on this recently, and borrowers/purchasers are being referred back to their mortgage advisers to secure up to date advice about what they should do. Again, it could be pertinent for second-hand property buyers as well, for example, if they have extended their offer because completion timelines have been stretched out.

You may well have clients in this situation and, as mentioned above, they need to work with their mortgage adviser to see what the situation is, and what can be done.

Overall, this has been a particularly trying time for all, however there is much we can do to head issues off at the pass and to reassure those people who might not understand (or believe) what they are currently reading.

A focus on simple language, and a tailored, early response to each client can do a lot to clarify a situation and to ensure we can use all our badly-needed resource in getting clients through to completion.

*Beth Rudolf is Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association (CA)


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