Last week was the first ever National Conveyancing Week, which I hope registered with agents and perhaps you even took up the offer of your local and regional conveyancer popping by, to develop relations and to hopefully discuss how the very best working relationship can be achieved for both you and your clients.
During the Week, I presented a session within the Home Buying & Selling Group’s Upfront Information Roadshow, outlining the reasons why the CA believes this is an opportunity to deliver real change in this area, and to ensure consumers have all the information they need at the very start of their property-buying journey, rather than finding this out piecemeal once they are already emotionally committed to a home and financially committed as well.
After the event I received a number of comments about how collaborative the whole approach to Upfront Information and indeed, improving the home buying and selling process, appeared.
I have met very few people in the property market who don’t understand the need for the change we are seeking, and the benefits it should be able to deliver.
Of course, there is not universal approval and many people have very strong ideas about their own position within the process and what is required, but my belief is that it is far better to try and bring people along with you, rather than them feeling they are being forced into a position they would rather not adopt.
Effectively have mandation
There has been a lot of debate, for example, around the need (or otherwise) for mandation when it comes to bringing upfront information into the process. The point should not be lost here that with National Trading Standards Material Information measures and guidance – due this Spring – we effectively have mandation.
Phase A is already with us and the introduction of Phase B and C will solidify this and the vastly increased information requirements for those marketing property for sale. And if you think this comes without any ‘teeth’ then you are mistaken.
The law allows NTS to issue unlimited fines and even prison sentences to those who do not include all the information they are going to require upfront in property adverts, listings and marketing, and while we’re not expecting enforcement to be immediate, at some point in the future, enforcement will happen and those who are not complying will face sanction.
That should prick up the ears of all those active in this area in the property market, particularly estate agents, and to be honest, this type of mandation is unlikely to stop here, because for the most part, the Government does recognise the benefits in terms of speeding up the house purchase/sale process, and the huge amount of costs and wasted resource it could eradicate from it.
In a market where it currently takes 22 weeks to complete from the point of marketing and our annual fall-through rate is 34%, ours would seem an obvious road to travel for any Government committed to bringing both these numbers down significantly.
And indeed, I suspect that on this point, most property market stakeholders will be singing from the same hymn sheet. Time and resource wasted on sales which never make it to completion might seem like a normal part of the job for all of us, but that’s only because we’ve not had a process which worked in the best way to try and stop this at source.
Now, we have the technology, the products, the solutions to be able to dial down considerably in this area, whether its use of digital ID, upfront information, use of the BASPI (Buying & Selling Property Information dataset), property logbooks, etc, all will provide a further piece in the improved process jigsaw to give you and your clients the best chance of completing.
Agents and conveyancers clearly have a big role to play here, and one of the big areas for us is to get your client to instruct the conveyancer on day one, rather than waiting weeks which can already put a sale/purchase behind schedule.
At our next CA meeting we’re going to be discussing a document which looks at a future vision for digital conveyancing, what it can deliver in a new property selling/buying world, how material information integrates with this, and how we can place the consumer front and center of the home-moving process.
That is a future that doesn’t seem too far away for any of us, and towards which there has already been considerable progress and considerable collaboration between conveyancers, agents, lenders, advisers, surveyors, technology firms, you name it. We’ll continue to work together in order to keep moving this forward, and if you would like to know how you can get involved, please do get in contact.