OPINION: A dating app for conveyancers and agents?

Rob Hailstone

In my opinion problem with conveyancing is not usually the conveyancers themselves, but the fact there are so many moving parts in the home buying and selling process. Many completely outside of the control of the conveyancer; including searches, surveys, mortgage offers, and the whim of the client.

Back in 1978 as a 20-year-old with a few years’ experience behind me, my then boss said, “it will take you 12 years to fully understand, land law and conveyancing”. How wrong he was, 43 years on and I am still trying to fully understand it, I encounter new problems and challenges every day. I really feel for the 21st century conveyancer. Not only do they need to understand land law and conveyancing, they now have more hoops (bureaucracy and red tape) to jump through than an acrobat with Billy Smarts circus. In addition, they are first in line to be sued if something goes wrong. With Professional Indemnity Insurance Premiums rising and low fees and high volumes to cope with, it is no wonder many are cautious. To the unexperienced outsider, often over cautious.

I run an online forum, where 500 conveyancers ask and answer questions between themselves. A few of the questions (shortened) posted recently have been:

  • Planning Conditions (New Build), what is the consensus on planning conditions being discharged?
  • Company non-compliant AML search. The search has come back as non-compliant?
  • Preventing an adverse possession claim. A section of the communal freehold land has been sectioned off by one of the leaseholders and she is claiming that she has good grounds to claim adverse possession.
  • Breaches of lease ‘wiped clean.’ I seem to remember that breaches of terms of an existing lease (e.g., alterations without consent) are “wiped clean” when a lease extension is entered into. Is this really the case and if so, where can I find the authority?
  • Thames Water Build Over agreement required? I thought there was something now that if you had Building Control Final Certificate you didn’t also need a Build Over Agreement, after a certain date – or did I dream that?

Fortunately, all of the above were answered very quickly via the forum.

And don’t get me started on the nightmare that is Help to Buy, which is one of the most ironically incorrect names you will ever come across.

The Law Society introduced the Conveyancing Quality Scheme a while ago, and whilst a step in the right direction is not really policed and therefore rarely enforced, hence continual discussions over contract clauses, additional enquiries and other routine procedural matters.

Technology helps, a bit; up front information helps, a bit; higher fees and experience help, a bit. What would make a real difference though is, in some quarters, a recognition of the complexity of the job itself. Conveyancers like agents, want a quick easy transaction, and a fast profitable pay day.

This busy market is likely to continue for some time to come, and many lenders and Local Authorities need to up their game sooner rather than later. Agents and conveyances need to work together and try to understand the challenges both jobs entail. The idiom, walk a mile in my shoe’s springs to mind.

Could part of the problem be that very few people actually get to meet each other anymore? Back in the day (last century now) I would regularly meet my estate agent contacts and talk with them and answer questions about conveyancing. I would also meet the conveyancer on the other side of a transaction, sometimes for exchange, and always for completion. Relationships were different then, much more friendly and personal. It is so easy now to critcise (and perhaps dislike) someone you only know via the internet, even if they only work down the road or around the corner. You don’t get a true feeling of someone, their integrity, ability and personality by receiving and sending acerbic emails.

My suggestion is, as soon as is allowed, meet up and talk to each other. Not just one to one, but arrange regular meetings of all local conveyancers and estate agents, so you can discuss the market and the issues that are causing both parties issues, and try to find ways to resolve or improve them.

Maybe we need an app, how about Kindling?!


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  1. David Jabbari Solicitor CEO Muve

    I think Rob makes a very good point about the importance of personal contact.  Perhaps the biggest factor there however is the fact that it is so much less common for agents and local conveyancers to be ‘mates’, meeting for drinks, or even golf as in the old days. Even writing that sounds dated and sexist! Today, rightly or wrongly, conveyancing referrals tend to be procured by agents in an organised way, subject to SLAs etc. I don’t think there is any way back to the old days but what we tend to do is ensure there is a very strong personal relationship between our senior people and our referring agents. This not only ensures quality, it also builds understanding of each others’ role. My own feeling is that conveyancers still need to do more to understand agent and customer pressures rather than vice versa.

  2. Rob Hailstone

    Was never a golfer, but enjoyed being invited to the monthly sales meetings and discussing the successes, challenges and sometimes failures of the previous weeks. Always very helpful and insightful. Not forgetting to mention the enjoyable post meeting drinks, with all genders.

  3. Hillofwad71

    Maybe reach out to Bricks  whose latest terms and conditions in their Gold Service agreement for sellers

    Horse,stable  door and bolted  .Whilst the rest of the industry says get ready in advance of marketing this is what they suggest!


    Provide Purplebricks with full contact details of your conveyancer within 14 days of you accepting an offer to sell your property.


  4. Agent75

    There are far too many solicitors and agents who sit behind their keyboards sending short, sharp and acerbic notes to each other which do nothing to improve relations – the amount of petty squabbles played out over the sales I’ve managed over the years is quite remarkable!

    We’re very fortunate that there are many solicitors in our town who will take the time to respond to our emails and phone calls because they have respect for their fellow property professionals and we’ve all made the effort over the years to meet up, have a quick lunch or a pint after work and get to know each other. Those that invest the time in this are the people who have a steady stream of referrals from their business contacts and have longevity in a town – they may change firms from time to time but their contacts follow them.

    Those larger firms who have staff to win the business, who then pass it to the lawyers, who don’t take calls from agents often because they don’t know them (and have no wish to know them!) and employ account handlers to deal with their introducers are the ones we have most issues with. They’re the firms who can’t keep hold of decent staff because it’s all a numbers game. It really doesn’t matter how good/engaging the Head Honcho is – if your staff are average, so is your firm.

    And solicitors really need to put their prices up or bring your billing targets down for your staff – you might just find they have a bit more time on their hands to do the job and develop your local contacts who will pass you more business…!

  5. Mike Stainsby

    I published a tongue in cheek blog article recently – ‘Keep It Simple Stupid! Everyone likes a KISS, even in a pandemic’ The idea was to draw a comparison between old and new, which your article does so eloquently Rob. The new ways are not always better, just different. I notice a growing desire to be anonymous, rather than show real names which is receiving a lot of criticism in the media presumably because it is easier to hide behind tech and be a protagonist when you can’t be found or called out.

    I used to regularly meet with conveyancers when I was an agent, well back in the last century. This gave us the opportunity to share a few beers and iron out any problems although strangely now that would seem underhand/wrong in some way? There should be more empathy and understanding between parties that have to work together to effect a positive outcome for home movers.

    Please take a look at my blog as an agent or conveyancer and let me know if we can help iron out a few problems?


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