Eddie Goldsmith (pictured), chairman of the CA, said each lender has a different set of requirements for situations which crop up regularly on mortgage applications, such as gifted deposits.
Uniformity in lenders’ instructions would help conveyancers know what the lender’s attitude was to a specific question, he added.
He estimated 20% to 25% of questions were ‘unnecessary’ and could be eradicated with better communication.
Lea Karasavvas, managing director of Prolific Mortgage Finance, said nine out of 10 clients felt there was an element of duplication to the questions they were asked.
“If they can streamline that process by taking some of that information, perhaps from a mortgage application we’ve submitted, it would certainly reduce timescales.”
Goldsmith said the trade association was keen to improve relationships between conveyancers and lenders.
“One of the things we’re talking about is dedicated support teams between us and lenders so there’s a better line of communication,” he said. “That way we don’t have to wait 30 minutes on the phone trying to get through to a particular lender, and they’re not clogging their systems up.”
Karasavvas said delays affected him ‘massively’ in his daily work, with remortgages affected most. Clients looking to remortgage are normally advised to pay for their own solicitor rather than take the free legal help provided by lenders if their time is limited.
“With remortgage deals, it is in our interest to try to get the clients away from the current interest rate they’re on before it hikes up to the Standard Variable Rate (SVR). If the legal conveyancing and the completion don’t take place before that happens they’re financially disadvantaged.
“It’s imperative solicitors get everything done quickly from their end to ensure that doesn’t happen because every day the client is on that SVR it’s costing them more money than it should be,” he said.
The CA is also looking at ways to speed up the leasehold process and make it fairer.
Goldsmith said while ombudsman redress schemes exist the leasehold process remains an unregulated activity.
He argued that thousands of different landlords and management companies of varying sizes create inconsistency in service, response times and pricing.
“When we say we’re trying to make [the process] fairer, we’re trying to identify benchmarks to be able to say to leasehold companies, ‘you shouldn’t be charging more than x pounds to deliver this particular pack of information,” Goldsmith said.
“This is a serious problem as one in six properties is a leasehold. These properties are inevitably more complicated to deal with because you have to go through the lease itself, which is always individual. Having the additional stress of management companies who are inconsistent in their service and their pricing adds another layer of angst into the whole process,” he added.
The CA is looking to gather evidence into the range of prices on the market to produce the lease information. It will also run its own self-funded test cases which will help set a benchmark for future pricing.