A majority of attendees raised their hands in favour of the suggestion of a ‘pre-contract pack’ at last week’s annual Conveyancing Association (CA) conference. These would be given to the buyer’s solicitor having been put together by the seller’s solicitor, in order to hasten the homebuying process. Eddie Goldsmith, the CA chair, emphasised that this was not relating to the comeback of home information packs, which in 2010 were discarded.
In relation to the contents of the packs, solicitors expressed approval for client documents including the TA4 and TA10 forms as well as proof of title. They did not however, think searches, ‘conveyancer’s certificate’ or survey valuations should be included.
One firm who was trialling a new method with one estate agent, believed ‘frontloading’ certain information on the seller’s side was reducing the transaction time for both buyer and seller. Partner at Shulmans, Victoria Mortimer stated that preparing copies of guarantees amongst other documents in advance was creating efficiency within the firm.
Chief Legal Ombudsman, Kathryn Stone stated that delays and inaccurate cost information was often the cause of complaints relating to homebuying.
Rob Hailstone of Bold Legal Group also commented on the conveyancing process being stressful, slow and confusing for the public and the need to examine why the procedure had regressed: “The process has gone backwards over time. We have got to look closely at why and how that has happened.”
Telling the conference that conveyancers needed to improve their communication skills was Denis Stevenson of Rowlinsons Solicitors. He commented on the Disney organisation giving their staff two weeks training purely in relation to greeting guests in the car park: “Extensive training needs to be given. The complaints are not about the law or technical knowledge. It’s about the lack of those softer skills.”
Stevenson also highlighted the importance of communication when dealing with clients’ stress levels: “Moving house is very stressful. It is important we explain at the outset how the process is going to work and keep in contact with them. Some firms do not contact clients for two or three weeks.”