I had the pleasure of taking part in a roundtable discussion last week, to see how conveyancers and others within the industry can work together in smarter ways and iron out some of the kinks in the process.
One of the biggest topics discussed on the day is what I’m calling ‘The Black Hole’. Here’s what I mean by that:
There’s a fairly simple, no chain case pootling along. The Starter Pack has come back, the mortgage offer is in place and, all-in-all, things seem to be going relatively smoothly. Then – vwoom – it’s sucked into ‘The Black Hole’.
‘The Black Hole’ is the enquiries process.
We know that enquiries are a particularly nasty beast, which can often take up a lot of time. It’s a sticking point with Estate Agents, as they have no control over them, a sticking point for clients because of the length of time they are waiting for questions/answers, and it’s a sticking point for us as Conveyancers because, well, we know how painful and protracted the process can be.
In all honesty, if we didn’t need to raise enquiries, we wouldn’t – but it is an essential part of the process and protects all parties involved. However, there are a couple of things that we can explore to make this part of the process just a little bit easier.
As discussed at the roundtable, this Black Hole presents an opportunity for Conveyancers and Estate Agents to work together to either eradicate, or at least greatly reduce, the need for the enquiries process. Here’s one idea that was floated around:
Upon listing a property, if the Estate Agent already knows (from their inspections and conversations with the owner) what the buyer’s Conveyancer will ask later in the process, they could obtain the information and required documentation up-front from their vendors. This would mean that the Conveyancer should only need to raise pure legal queries (two or three max), which would stop transactions entering ‘The Black Hole’ and potentially shave weeks from the process.
Although it’s just one idea, saving a couple of weeks on a transaction is music to everybody’s ears.
This idea is within our gift to deliver. It doesn’t need any regulatory or government intervention. It just needs Conveyancers and Estate Agents throughout England & Wales to genuinely collaborate and make this happen. Let’s make it standard practice. It has to be worth a shot.
We’re always trying to find new ways to work closer with our Estate Agency partners at My Home Move, and this may be one of the ways in which we can all make a difference for the good of our mutual clients.