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Is conveyancing reform FINALLY going to happen?

Conveyancing Association declares process 'not fit for purpose' and publishes radical White Paper

Nigel Lewis

The Conveyancing Association has published a White Paper that calls for a radical shake-up of the sales process in England and Wales after revealing that most estate agents are dissatisfied with its failings.

Its White Paper is the result of extensive research and consultation among estate agents, lenders, solicitors, local and national government as well as surveyors, and suggests significant changes to almost every part of the conveyancing process as well as examination of the US and Scottish conveyancing systems, which the association considers to be better than ours in many ways.

This includes suggested changes to aspects of the moving process that often frustrate agents, buyers and vendors alike including the non-binding nature of offers, the difficulties of chain management, mortgage finance, money laundering, local authority data, leaseholds, property information and contract completion.

But the most sweeping of the Conveyancing Association reforms is to make offers a legal commitment tempered by a five-day cooling off period either through a reservation agreement or conditional contract.

Other key suggestions in the document include:

1. Drawing up a central database of authenticated solicitors and agents to prevent fraud and money laundering, and also establish a secure portal to enable conveyancers, estate agents and home movers to communicate safely to prevent email-based fraud.

2. Property Information and Title Information to be drawn up at the same time properties are marketed to give buyers more information, avoid delays later and help resolve Title issues at the start.

3. Monies to be sent by the purchaser the day before completion, not on the day.

4. Overhaul the Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act 2002 to resolve the cost and delay of the leasehold sales process including a database for, and policing of, those who charge fees to administer leaseholds.

5. Police local authority performance, and reform the way searches are conducted to better suit lenders’ and buyers’ needs.

eddi_goldsmith_ca conveyancing reform“Working within this industry, I believe we’re all aware that at present we do not have a home moving process which is fit for purpose,” says Eddie Goldsmith, Chairman of The Conveyancing Association (pictured).

“Since the beginning of the recovery of the property market, conveyancing times have steadily increased from eight weeks – from offer to completion – up to the latest estimate, which places transaction times at 13 weeks. For leasehold transactions the length of time is often greater.

“It is against this backdrop that the CA decided to embark on a project to identify why these delays occur, how the process works in other countries, and by undertaking research and talking to as many stakeholders as possible, to identify potential solutions which can get us to a far better place for all concerned.”

Read the report in full here.

November 21, 2016

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