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    Reforming the Conveyancing Process

    The home moving process is something that most people will experience at some point during their lifetime. Figures from HM Land Registry indicate that over one million homes are bought and sold each year.

    Given the frequency of transactions taking place, it would be reasonable to expect that the process would be straightforward, or at least have made significant steps towards change. However, as has been widely communicated by both the general public and professionals, the process remains problematic.

    Consumers consistently criticise conveyancing as being too slow, there being too little correspondence or having a lack of understanding of the process. It is widely seen as the most complex part of the home moving process and many are unsure of what is involved prior to being involved themselves.

    Transaction time

    In terms of how long it takes to process a transaction, this is an issue which stretches across the whole of the home moving process. Whilst conveyancers obviously play a key part of the process, the speed at which it takes place is dependent upon the other involved parties, such as estate agents and lenders.

    However, the need for improving levels of communication extends outside of the industry and to consumers themselves. For many, conveyancing is a mystery until they actually have to partake in the process themselves, and arguably, this alone should signal a need for change.

    Lack of price transparency

    In addition to communication, another issue regularly criticised is market transparency or the lack of it. Whilst this is an issue across the legal services sector as a whole, conveyancing is an area which, given its intricacies, has been highlighted as especially opaque where price is concerned.

    Following a report from the Competition and Markets Authority, legal regulators recently put forward their proposals for improving transparency within the market, stating that it should be seen as a positive opportunity for firms. As well as building competition in price terms, it would also encourage firms to improve the quality of their service in order to stand out amongst competitors.

    Supporting organisations

    Beyond conveyancing, the home moving process is heavily reliant on supporting organisations who provide vital data on property and land. These organisations play a key part in driving the sector forward both in terms of innovation and consistent reliability.

    HM Land Registry, for example, has outlined its plans for a digital overhaul, aiming to build on its developing improvements including online mortgage signatures and its property alert system.

    Call For Evidence

    The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have this month released a 'Call for Evidence' entitled ‘Improving the home buying and selling process’. This called for the feedback and opinions of all parties concerned in the home buying process, with a view to developing proposals to move the industry innovation forward.

    Based on a poll of over 2,000 people who had recently taken part in the transaction process, the report found that residential property lawyers were the main cause for complication, highlighting the need to explore why this is the case.

    One of the first issues highlighted in the consultation is the need to improve transaction speed. As well as being of benefit to the consumer, reducing the time taken to complete a transaction was also attributed to building industry competition and encouraging efficiency.

    Technology is central to improving communication within the industry. Technology is able to bring estate agents, solicitors, mortgage brokers and clients together to communicate for the one goal of getting someone into their dream home, as simply as possible.

    Digital revolution

    A key element when it comes to reducing transaction speed, the digital revolution also has its own section within the ‘Call for Evidence’. Steps are already being taken to improve this, however, the need to embrace this digital revolution remains key.

    The only way for the conveyancing market to progress and adapt is through the use of new technology and to bring everyone together through doing so. The world is moving forward, with technology being at the forefront of any new development or change, so why should this stop at conveyancing? The market is very much still stuck in its archaic ways across the UK.

    It is the government’s stated desire to “modernise the home-buying process so it is more efficient and less costly”, along with their aim of replacing the current, largely paper-based approach through a digital revolution.”

    There has been a reluctance of many to adapt to a more digital approach, despite the shift in consumer trends in recent years but whilst it’s clear that technology will play a key role in the future of the industry, it’s those that are undergoing the home moving process now that should arguably be the priority.

    Too often people really struggle to find basic information about legal services like conveyancing. It should be easier for them to find the right service at the right price. The DCLG spoke to thousands of people and professionals to help develop the plans and whilst they heard that price is important, so is information about service and quality.

    It’s clear that there is a need for reform in the home moving process, and the DCLG’s consultation could be seen as a step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see how flaws in the industry are dealt with and whether, in the long term, conveyancing won’t be quite so criticised.

    Wildings has over 30 years of conveyancing experience, so whether you require domestic or commercial conveyancing services you can get in contact with our experienced team of solicitors now on 0330 333 8797 or fill in our contact form here and one of our team will get back to you.


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