How many major issues are there in the UK property sales market? I’ve been asking estate agents this question and their answers include lack of stock; lack of buyers; lack of surveyors, lack of money; arduous mortgage application processes; people not telling the truth and gazumping. So not many issues then!
However, the most common answer was conveyancing. According to many agents, whatever they do to get stock, market it and agree sales, slow sales progression and rising fall through rates are being caused by a cumbersome conveyancing process.
Large numbers of conveyancers leaving the industry when the market crashed in 2007. When the market picked up, there were too few qualified people to cope with the increased demand so conveyancing timescales lengthened. This was compounded by the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review (MMR), which dramatically increased the number of documents and checks.
Estate agents are finding that these issues lead to buyers pulling out, sometimes because they cannot get a mortgage at all, or they cannot have as much as they need. Sellers get frustrated and give up on selling – often blaming the agent and creating an even greater shortage of stock.
Simon King, Director of the Move with Us Partner Network, says that when demand increased they took action to speed up the process. “Reducing the risk of fall throughs is best achieved by being organised, says Simon, “If buyers or sellers get Legally Prepared early on by using our Navigator system, completing the initial documents before an offer is accepted or they start looking to buy, they can save 11 days on average on the transaction.
“One of the top delays in the conveyancing process is incorrect information on the mortgage application. Triple checking information provided is correct can save time and heartache.”
Which is great advice, but with so few conveyancers and so many people chasing a transaction to get the pipelines flowing, the influx of calls into conveyancers’ offices increased to the point that some were recording 4.5 hours on the phone every day, with 200 emails to respond to – before starting any legal work.
“The obvious solution was to recruit but the supply of experienced conveyancers simply was not there, leaving law firms struggling with excessive caseloads.” says Simon.
As a result, conveyancing operations have now set up training academies to produce training processes to produce competent staff in numbers not seen for almost a decade, along with initiatives
such as apprenticeships being developed by regulators.
While these are underway, online conveyancing systems such as Navigator give customers and estate agents 24/7 accessibility to check the status of their legal file online, giving the conveyancers space to carry out their work.
Estate agents need to partner with a conveyancing provider that focuses on getting sales through to exchange in the fastest time.” Donna Smith, Move With Us
Move with Us also worked alongside the Conveyancing Association (CA) to launch the CA Protocol which provides conveyancers and solicitors with a single point of reference for best practice to improve communication between all parties involved in the house buying process.
In a completely separate initiative, The Law Society, working with Mastek
(UK) Ltd, is launching Veyo, an online conveyancing portal which will bring together all the processes, checks and documentation prepared and undertaken by solicitors and licensed conveyancers.
Providing a full audit trail, and operating within a secure ‘trusted community’ of users, the Veyo system will allow professionals to better communicate with each other and home movers, to satisfy their obligations more efficiently and facilitate the conveyance of residential property through the established preferred practice protocols.
Agents and their clients benefit too, as Veyo will enable most of the communication between conveyancing professional and home movers to take place online, meaning that the use of slow, costly postal mail will be made virtually redundant.
BENEFITS FOR AGENTS
The faster that conveyancing transactions are completed, the quicker agents receive their fees. By providing a simpler, stress free service to their customers, agents can increase their revenues and provide a better service.
There is also an opportunity to benefit from the conveyancing transaction. Newton Fallowell, an independent group of estate agents in the Midlands recently reported that they had generated £3
million of revenue from corporate property sales and conveyancing transactions through the Move with Us Partner Network.
Our pipeline converts, on average, 14% faster when we use a Move with Us panel solicitor compared to another high street solicitor.” Mark Newton, Newton Fallowell
Mark Newton at Newton Fallowell, said, “Our relationship with Move with Us has grown over the years and we are really pleased to have reached the £3 million milestone.
“Key to the success of the partnership is the conveyancing service that Move with Us provides to our offices which focuses on getting our sales through to exchange in the fastest possible times. Our pipeline converts on average 14 per cent faster when we use a Move with Us panel solicitor compared to another high street solicitor.”
Donna Smith, Regional Director, Move with Us, said, “In today’s market, it’s important for estate agents to partner with a conveyancing provider that is committed to getting sales through to exchange in the fastest possible times. That is what we focus on and we are delighted that we’ve been able to work with Newton Fallowell to reach this record breaking figure.”
Move with Us www.movewithus.co.uk