Conveyancing system is ‘shambolic’ and ‘failing’ property industry, say leading figures

Agent Simon Shinerock and a clutch of mortgage brokers say Covid put existing cracks under greater pressure, rather than being cause of them.


Leading players within the property industry have slammed the ‘broken’ conveyancing process which many say has failed to recover from the Covid hiatus that saw many sales fall through as vendors and buyers waited months to achieve exchange.

Those making the comments include half a dozen leading mortgage brokers but also Simon Shinerock (pictured), founder of estate agency Choices, says that although technology has helped streamline the “old-fashioned, cumbersome and bureaucratic conveyancing system we use in this country, things have got steadily worse.

“It’s a bit like David Cameron promising a bonfire of red tape, followed by the largest rise in red tape in history.

Technology is definitely the answer but to work it has to be joined up and all the players in the game must have access to the system.

“The technology already exists to link buyers, sellers, agents, conveyancers, lenders, mortgage advisers and local authorities, it’s called ‘the blockchain’.

“Yes, the blockchain does have other uses than creating useless crypto currency Ponzi schemes. There is even a company called Coadjute working on a solution and starting to make progress but really, like WiFi for everyone, this should be a Government-sponsored project.

“Unfortunately, it’s not just technology that is not joined up. The government is wholly unable to keep up with the pace of change, much less respond to it or take a lead role.”


Other figures criticising the ongoing long delays to many property sales created by conveyancing include Lewis Shaw, founder of Shwa Financial Services, who says Covid has “simply exposed and turbocharged the failings and cracks in conveyancing processes” while Oli Pearce Guild Mortgage Services says the conveyancing system is “absolutely shambolic”.

And the other firms joining the fray include Missing Element Mortgage Services, Propflo, Peak Mortgages and Protection, Searchlight Finance, Lucra Mortgages, Magni Finance and Langley House Mortgages.


  1. Interesting quote for the day:

    “The great difficulties which occur in selling estates and obtaining money on real security, the time which usually elapses before the completion of such transactions, and the harassing expenses and disappointments which attend them, are universally acknowledged.”

    No, that was not from a recent industry conference, it was from a report of the Real Property Commissioners in 1830. Yes, 1830 – nearly 200 years ago!

    So maybe step one in solving this issue is to stop all these platitudes about the conveyancing system being “shambolic” or “broken” as if this were some recent phenomenon, as if there was this time in the past when everything was wonderful and now we hold our hands up and ask “what is going wrong?”. It has been this way for at least 200 years.

    The problems derive from deep seated legal and procedural issues that will not be cured by blockchain, upfront information or any other current fad. The idea that connecting systems solves the problem is rather like the idea that if you connect a monkey to a keyboard eventually he will write a novel.

    Until the data (of very diverse kinds) that forms a conveyancing transaction is in a completely standardised form, and the processes of what lawyers do with that data is similarly standardised or abbreviated, there is no real opportunity for significant improvement in the conveyancing process.

    Are we remotely close to that? No. Does that mean we should give up and accept this? Of course not. But let’s be more forensic about this rather than these simplistic statements and approaches. There are things we can do with parts of the process, such as the funds transfer element which realistically could improve things. There could be better integration with the Land Registry so that the registration process is more ‘real time’.

    These are all marginal improvements, so we need to keep some realism in our expectations. At Muve we are committed to using technology, but perhaps more importantly workflow, to speed up the bits we can control. What we cannot control is the speed of other actors. I don’t want to upset anyone but I think we may be stuck with the system we have for a few more years yet, but hopefully not the next two centuries!

  2. When I first started in the industry, we explained to buyers and sellers that the process would take 6 – 8 weeks. Now the average time is in excess of 20 weeks. It’s clear that something needs to change. I think its worth identifying what parts of the process cause the delays and look at how that process could be speeded up for the benefit of the whole industry. And I don’t mean sellers packs!!

  3. I don’t think it’s shambolic, it’s not ideal granted. Conveyancers can adopt simple technology, such as our service, to digitally enable themselves. Coadjute promises to be a good solution but needs widespread take up.

    We (Search Acumen) can offer conveyancers an end to end digital platform, from quotes/onboarding clients with ID/AML checks, TA6 forms to an automated Report on Title to post completion SDLT/AP1 submissions.
    The data flows all the way through the system to eradicate double keying of info.

    I’d be more than happy to talk to state agents who want to work with our, forward thinking conveyancer clients that already utilise this tech. Conveyancers, get a market leading service for your clients too.

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