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Let’s not underestimate the power of the backbench MP – Rudolf

by: Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association (CA)
  • 09/05/2022
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Let’s not underestimate the power of the backbench MP – Rudolf
Have you ever attended your local MP’s surgery? If so, what issue did you raise, how was it received, was your cause taken up, and did you get the outcome you wanted?


We often hear about certain individuals being ‘good constituency MPs’ which to some, who dream of higher office, might not be a perceived compliment, but I suspect to the vast majority will be everything they wished to be when they entered politics.

Let’s not underestimate the power of the backbench MP – particularly at the moment – and the influence they have in changing constituents’ lives for the better.


Housing and your MP

I’m not sure how many MPs receive regular communication with members of public about the housing market in their constituency, but I can guess it is considerable. Whether it’s the supply of affordable homes, or locals being priced out of their regions, or it’s about the private rental sector (PRS) or supply and state of social housing, I’m guessing that housing is a topic constantly on the local agenda.

It may not be drilled down to an individual problem, but we currently have an opportunity to improve the lot of everyone in England and Wales who engages with the housing market, to save them time and money, to improve the productivity and economies of local areas, and it more than likely begins with the local MP.


Client stress has a knock-on effect

Buying a home is deemed to be one of the three most stressful life events you can go through behind death and divorce. That should tell us everything about the process we have in England and Wales, and what it can do to people who go through this.

At the moment, the average time to complete a property transaction is 22 weeks, and almost one in four transactions which start never actually get to completion. How much money, time, resource and investment is being lost as a consequence of those fall-through numbers? How much money are you losing every year progressing those transactions only for them to fall through, with all the emotional impact that brings to you and your staff, having to deal with upset customers.

Fall-throughs costs the industry and borrowers hundreds of millions of pounds every year, hitting individual and business stakeholders each and every time.

The knock-on effect is also considerable because people know there is a 24 per cent chance the property they think they are going to buy simply won’t happen. That they’ll begin the process but will never complete it, and psychologically that – logically – puts people off.

It particularly puts off people on lower incomes because who wants to waste money, especially during a cost-of-living crisis? But it also dampens supply because it stops people putting their houses on the market – particularly older owners – which means that, for example, they don’t downsize and the larger homes they tend to live in never come to the market for the families that need them.


Three ways MPs could help solve the problem

This is all interconnected and therefore needs an interconnected solution. It’s why the CA – as part of the Home Buying and Selling Group (HBSG) – is urging all property stakeholders to write to their local MP, asking them to support legislation which mandates, in the first instance, three key things which will help.

Firstly, we want sellers to appoint a conveyancer on day one of the instruction to their estate agent. This will do a number of things, mostly clearing potential obstacles far earlier in the process and ensuring the conveyancing work begins as early as possible. We all know that the longer a transaction lasts, the greater the chance of failure.

Secondly, we want the government to mandate property packs with upfront information accessible to all stakeholders in the transaction. Again, this will provide all those involved with far earlier and clearer sight, particularly in terms of what they are buying, rather than finding out after they are emotionally involved and they have already mentally committed to buying.

Finally, we want the government to facilitate the use of a single digital identity to be available to all who need to access it throughout the process. Again, this cuts out the huge amount of duplication we have around checking individual’s ID, the cost and time this incurs, to say nothing of the positive impact it will have on targeting fraudulent activity.


There’s more to be done

The HBSG is producing a summary to send to all MPs, but clearly numbers matter in this regard. Market professionals will know exactly what can happen, how it can go wrong, and what that means to you and your client’s mental health, stress levels and pocket.

With enough support we can move the industry in the right direction. We are providing the solutions required but the government has to write them into the legislation that will make it happen.

We need your help asking your local MP to deliver the common sense, positive home moving experience through upfront material information, early instruction of conveyancers and digitally identifying home movers.

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