Conveyancers blamed for property transaction delays

The conveyancing process, and searches were predominantly held responsible for recent delays across the property transaction; owing to sheer volume of transactions, inconsistencies and lack of collaboration, according to a new property industry market research report  – The New Normal.

A survey of almost 800 property professionals highlighted that sheer volume was believed to be at the heart of the issue last year, as summed up by one residential conveyancer who said; “the sheer number of transactions caused the delays”. Whilst an estate agent added; “Not enough hours in the day! Volume. Pure and simple!”.

These comments were unsurprising given the chaos high volumes were causing ‘behind the scenes’ too, the report concluded.

Joe Pepper, CEO at tmgroup, commented: “The volume of new instructions pushed up the capacity of the industry, causing each sale to take longer which in turn increased the volume of work in the process to further break the model.

“Many local authorities reduced and restricted access to their search provision service too, which saw average search times double at certain periods.

“There were even several high-profile authorities where search times increased by over a month! Delays were then exacerbated by the volume of associated communication that was demanded by all parties, giving rise to the view that other parties contributed to the problem.”

Distinct lack of collaboration and consistency also laid bare

That is not all, inconsistencies across the country created their own challenges, according to Martin Manning, sales director at tmgroup.

He explained: “As with everything in the property transaction, there’s no silver bullet or magic fix. However, striving for consistency across all areas of the process – as we all find our feet in ‘The New Normal’ – could prompt a much-needed sea change.

“Some of the biggest problem areas include; the postcode lottery of Local Authority turnaround times, the huge discrepancies between the firms who do their file opening in hours vs. weeks, and the unnecessary lag created by home movers only engaging a Conveyancer when they’ve agreed a sale or purchase (instead of much earlier on in the process). It won’t change overnight, but if everyone takes the initiative to help move the dial in the right direction, it could be a win-win for speeding up the conveyancing process all round.”

Nick Ball, sales director at mio, believes that it is equally vital that more property professionals put their best foot forward in supporting the collaboration agenda.

He commented: “Everything from regularly reviewing panels, and proactively reaching out to help better support the completion of property fixtures forms (and similar), to championing searches being ordered early on, can go a long way in making things easier all around. There are already some fantastic examples out there of estate agents and conveyancers working better together. This is what we all need to strive for as we settle into ‘The New Normal’.”

A ‘first look’ at the report was discussed at a recent tm:tv special. See below.



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  1. Rob Hailstone

    Surely the headline should be: The sheer number of transactions caused property delays, not, Conveyancers blamed for property transaction delays?

    Fully agree with Joe though, “conveyancers should be engaged before the seller and buyer have agreed a sale or purchase.”

  2. Truthspeaks

    That’s because conveyancers/solicitors (fee earners)  are an easy target,  nothing to do with estate agents mis-selling or Misadvising  clients, nothing to do with council delays, nothing to do with lender delays.

    agents seem to think fee earners want to cause a delay… that they do it on purpose.

    They don’t understand that fee earners are employed to do the right thing, not just to sweep issues under the carpet, agents think indemnity solves everything, when it just masks an issues.

    Delays are in truth caused by everyone involved, not in purpose, but by how the market has been.

  3. CWoodhouse

    I think we already knew everything in this article but I guess it’s always good to get validation of one’s assumptions.

    Perhaps you could lobby parliament with your research to get the much needed funding for local governments!   This money could be spent making their valuable data and information digital and accessible.

    Real-time searches being initiated at the very beginning of a property transaction will make for a much better consumer experience.  All the way from the marketing the property with completed searches (data), to the completion.

  4. Mafuta

    I don’t know whether the conveyancing process is to blame because of the shear volume in the current market, I have seen the same complaints about conveyancers when the market isn’t busy. Go figure.


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