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Stakeholders: Time to spruce up the house purchase process – CA

by: Eddie Goldsmith, chairman, Conveyancing Association (CA)
  • 25/08/2016
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Stakeholders: Time to spruce up the house purchase process – CA
Whatever your position within the house purchase process, we appear to be at an industry-defining moment in terms of improving it.

The much-heralded ‘Call to evidence’ from the Department for Business Innovation & Skills has yet to appear, but in the lead-up to and beyond this we have an incredible opportunity to shape and improve the process and provide a much more positive experience for all.

We have to understand however that these improvements can’t be delivered by one part of the industry alone, and to that end the CA is working on a white paper which will seek to cover off views from a variety of stakeholders, including brokers and lenders. As part of this we are going to look at the key issues, the frustrations, the chain-breaking problems – indeed everything that impacts on getting a transaction across the completion line.

Broker frustration

Advisers find themselves in the middle of the process and it’s important we hear your views and how you think the issues you come up against, time and again, can be resolved. I’ve dealt with mortgage advisers throughout my entire career and I understand the frustrations they continue to have with the process.

However, it’s important to understand that conveyancing is not the same as it was 20 years ago – there has been a considerable increase in the obligations on conveyancers, coupled with pressures to keep pricing down and deal with competition from introducers and comparison sites. Back then you carried out the work, charged more, completed sooner and updated the chain less. Now we have to review up to seven searches, deal with anti-money laundering regulations, be the stamp duty gatekeeper, deal with the ever-increasing communication demands from the chain, while at the same time managing the security required to protect the client from the ever-increasing threat of cyber crime.

These are not excuses for why certain transactions take as long as they do, but they certainly have to be considered when looking at how the process can be improved. This is not all about low fees, lack of resources, competitive pressures, utilising management information – the list goes on – but they tell you some of the story about why we are where we are.

Positive dialogue

There are, however, clearly opportunities to develop and change the process, to cut down on some of those frustrations clearly felt by all stakeholders. The CA has already had some very positive dialogue with lenders who are keen to reduce delays created by queries, and to work with conveyancers and valuers to nip those queries in the bud.

We have also produced a standardised referral form to ease the delivery of information. Simply acknowledging the request for mortgage funds and confirming they will be available for completion would reduce calls into the lender by at least 50,000 per month. That has to be a goal worth pursuing although sadly many lenders do not have the IT development resources to implement the most basic of changes, so we are working with intermediaries to work on ways to deliver the communication outside of the lender’s systems.

That dialogue should bring results but they will only be effective and lasting if we work together to find ways to improve the process. To that end, we welcome all input, especially from advisers, and therefore if you want to have your voice heard, please do get in touch.

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