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Business News: Conveyancing – a 21st century profession?

Back in the day, when I started in agency in the 1980s, a sale would typically take between four to six weeks to come to exchange of contracts and we would expect between two and four weeks to hand over the keys. This makes a total of between four and ten weeks for the majority of sales. I think the average was eight weeks.


In those days, all letters went by post or DX and the searches were by post. When, searches became electronic and the price shot up, we assumed the service would be quicker and better. That’s what we thought anyway.


Now, if a sale transaction takes less than twelve weeks, with the average probably sixteen weeks, we are shocked. We shouldn’t need to be shocked!


Historically, solicitors called the shots. They ‘act in the client’s best interest’. They think all estate agents want is the completion cheque and assume, whenever we call or email, we are thinking about our own business. Of course, some agents are like that and don’t care about the communication service they could be providing; all they have to tell their corporate masters is when the money is coming in.


But there are estate agents out there who see that sales chasing and moving the transaction along is what the seller and buyer both want, so they do it.


The focus of transactions needs to change amongst the legal fraternity. This is not a battle to prove the other solicitor is slow, inefficient, doesn’t understand, is over- picky, and a host of other negatives. The focus needs to be on trying to get buyer and seller to where they want to go; getting moved. This requires collaboration and partnership between all the bodies involved in the transaction. It requires a solicitor to check the client’s papers as soon as they see them, to ensure any issues which could cause a problem are flagged up to the seller and are proactively dealt with. So often, a sale proceeds for many weeks before a solicitor seems to look closely at the papers then it all ‘kicks off’.


There needs to be a device or system that conveyancers could put in place to manage problematic issues proactively.


I know some solicitors will hate me for talking so frankly but the efficient ones will not. They know that sellers and buyers generally want to move as soon as possible and they will invest time energy and thought, especially the latter, to clear the way for that to happen.

We are not in the 19th century but the 21st Let’s have a conveyancing service to match.

Paul Bonett F.N.A.E.A. M.A.R.L.A.