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How can conveyancers help to alleviate home movers’ frustrations?

How can conveyancers help to alleviate home movers’ frustrations?

The biggest conundrum in conveyancing – frustrating home movers and property lawyers alike – is why conveyancing takes so long.

When we look at the stats, we can clearly see that conveyancing is slowing down. Our Insights Report tells us that in 2007, it took on average 75 days to move from instruction to completion. By 2023, it took 123 days, an increase of 64%. 

Read the full report.  


No-one wins 

While this is annoying for home movers, for conveyancers, it is extremely frustrating. Every day the process takes before completion adds another day without being paid, so it is naturally in the conveyancer’s best interest to push completions through as efficiently as possible. While managing that haphazard financial pipeline, they are also battling extremely negative public perceptions and some estate agents who cast them as adversaries. 


The root problem 

Our Insights Report pinpoints very clearly what is, in fact, taking its toll on the conveyancing industry: a 131% increase in the timeline from enquiries raised and all replies received, going from 26 days in 2007 to 60 days in 2023. 

For conveyancers, that means spending the equivalent of one day a week simply chasing or being chased, taking time away from the ever-increasing list of tasks they need to plough through to get a property transaction successfully to completion in the complex legal environment of conveyancing in England and Wales. Home movers see only the tip of the conveyancing workload – they are very rarely aware of the mammoth tasks required by every transaction. 


The conveyancer’s task list 

Almost under the radar due to its piece-meal introduction, the work conveyancers undertake has effectively doubled and become considerably more complex in the last 15 years. Since 2007, conveyancers have inherited the additional burdens of (amongst others) Japanese knotweed, roof solar panels, Help to Buy loans, HS2, as well as huge increases in client identity and fund validation requirements due to property fraud and anti-money-laundering regulations. The recent legislative addition of the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) has further affected workload, with 89% of conveyancers saying it has negatively impacted their work . 

The BSA has single-handedly added profound unwelcome complexity and time to an already overloaded transaction. With every new piece of legislation, highlighted risk or change to lender requirements, it is the conveyancer who absorbs the liability and, therefore, the responsibility. 

Every responsibility added to the conveyancer’s workload naturally increases the chance of additional queries and the delays that come with that, no matter how hardworking and diligent the humans in the profession. 


Inconvenient convenience 

Compounding the frustrations for both conveyancers and clients is the ever-widening gap between client expectation and reality. The mismatch comes down to how used society is to immediacy thanks to the extreme convenience of click and buy. Delays are unacceptable in a world where consumers can order groceries, frivolities, even cars and have them delivered the following morning. Consumers don’t understand why house buying should take, on average, four months. 

The property industry simply cannot meet such levels of expectation. In 2007, expectations were lower, and conveyancing was faster – now legislative changes have slowed conveyancing, and Amazon et al have heightened customer expectations. Friction, disappointment and complaints riddle the home moving–conveyancing relationship.  


How to fix it 

Our research shows 39% of conveyancers are most frustrated by insufficient resources and the volume of workload, and 35% cite the growing regulatory and administrative burden. Tech and software are the best way to tackle those challenges and speed up conveyancing, but the tech needs to address the fundamentals of the job.  

We know the legal profession is embracing technology, but currently the tech solutions are only able to ensure conveyancing isn’t even slower than it already is – it hasn’t been able to actually speed up conveyancing yet.  

To accelerate conveyancing, software solutions need to deal with the comprehensiveness of the contract pack and interpreting the legal title, to reduce or even remove the additional enquiries process.  

Key to reducing or removing the enquiries process – the element in conveyancing currently hobbling transaction times, taking up to 60 days – is leveraging the benefits of the new material information standards bestowed upon estate agencies by Trading Standards. By working together, estate agents and conveyancers can ensure the seller has a perfect contract pack ready to go the moment they have an offer on the sale property. 

By gathering information upfront, as a property goes on the market, the majority of issues that currently clog up the enquiries process will be answered, removing or reducing the need for the buyer’s lawyer to raise an enquiry. Remove those 60 days from the conveyancing process and we step considerably closer to meeting client expectations.  


Working together 

The upfront information (UFI) process could play a large part in reducing frustrations for both home movers and conveyancers. Alas, as people tend to move homes only once every five to ten years, most home movers are unlikely to know the benefits of instructing a conveyancer at listing. In a house sale or purchase, the home mover speaks first to an estate agent or a mortgage broker, who typically recommends conveyancers. 

To improve customer experience and improve public perceptions of the property professions, communication is key. Conveyancers and estate agents should build stronger relationships, so estate agents can be confident in their conveyancer recommendations and know they can all work in concert with the client to have everything ready before the seller accepts an offer. That way, when a buyer arrives, the transaction can move at speed without the current lack of certainty, whether that’s chain instability or debates around who should provide customers with certain types of information. 

At Ochresoft, we provide award-winning workflow and case management services to conveyancing and private client law firms across England and Wales. We’re also the first software company to develop a bespoke workflow that harnesses the benefits of upfront information to ensure more speed and certainty in conveyancing transactions. We’re unpicking the industry to identify where we can speed up, streamline and deliver genuine efficiency, so everyone wins. 

Download our full insights report.  


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