In October, 2017, the Government issued a consultation document entitled Improving the Home Buying and Selling Process, intended as the first stage in making it “cheaper, faster and less stressful” to buy or sell property. With over one million homes bought and sold every year, and with the industry reported to be on the threshold of a digital revolution, the debate is very timely.
One of the key areas being opened up for discussion is the conveyancing process, with the consultation document claiming that a third of those it questioned were frustrated by delays in the conveyancing process, or blaming it for the collapse of their sale or purchase. The document also questions whether buyers and sellers are free to choose the conveyancer they want, instead of being forced or pressured into accepting the services of a conveyancer recommended by their mortgage lender or estate agent. Such “recommendations” by the lender or estate agent are often rewarded by a referral fee paid to them by the conveyancer. Ultimately, of course, these fees are paid by the buyer or seller, as they will be included in the costs charged to them.
Whilst it is right that the Government should be looking at ways to improve the buying and selling process, as well as to reduce costs, the consultation document acknowledges that “conveyancers play a critical part in efficiently progressing a transaction…..(and) gather and scrutinize complex information on the property, ensuring buyers and lenders can purchase with confidence”.
The problems caused by the growth of so-called conveyancing factories in recent years highlights the age-old saying that a cheap job doesn`t necessarily mean a good job. These conveyancing factories are often run in the style of call-centres, with a single qualified solicitor overseeing the work of numerous, less experienced, conveyancing clerks. All properties, clients and transactions are different and so if the conveyancing process brings up anything unusual it can often lead to significant delays before a fully qualified solicitor can resolve the legal issues. Recent reports of buyers unwittingly taking on leasehold properties with spiralling ground rent charges highlights just how easily mistakes can be made.
At Bretherton Law we have been experts in conveyancing for over 50 years, and we have built an enviable reputation for our professional, efficient and personal service. Buying a property is likely to be the biggest financial commitment of your life, so you want to be sure that you are investing your money wisely by speaking to experts. Maybe we should leave the last words to John Ruskin: “When you pay too much, you lose a little money. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything.”
To read the consultation document in full go to: Home Buying and Selling
See also Law Society Gazette article:Conveyancing factories with inexperienced juniors can delay transactions