What we are reliant upon to make our transactions work?

What we are reliant upon to make our transactions work?

This has, without doubt, been an “interesting” time for the conveyancing sector and, I think it’s fair to say, it remains a challenging one.

I’m writing this just prior to the Government’s “fiscal event” and the rumours already suggest that stamp duty is likely to be cut, a decision which always presents conveyancing firms with something of a headache, albeit historically accompanied by an increase in purchase transactions.

The devil will be in the detail but, the positives we can say here, are that the industry should be used to such changes by now, and this looks unlikely to be a temporary “holiday” without the accompany deadlines that can cause such difficulties and consternations.

While SDLT tax reduction sounds positive to home movers, we also know from the past this can end up driving up house prices with stock levels already being so low, Martin Lewis recently said on Good Morning Britain the house price rise already eradicates the money saved in SDLT for the consumer and does not put more money into the Treasury coffers.

What will though is an improvement in the per capita GDP which in the housing market can be driven by reduced timescales and fall throughs provided through the creation and delivery of upfront information.

The current loss of money created by the extra work involved in a 140-day transaction time could be reduced by ensuring all the information is available at the point of sale as happens with new-builds and auctions creating a much quicker transaction, but of course that can only be delivered if the whole chain does it.

Tackling the specific problem area of delays within the process is a constant. However, boiling them down to the “areas of concern” allows us to tackle the key pinch points, and to help deal with client expectations, as well as begin to introduce the solutions which can smooth these out.

In essence, I would say the three key areas of concern tend to be a lack of transparency, a lack of certainty, and the wider delay this can bring about, particularly with a process which relies on so many moving parts and stakeholders.

The other big issue is the reliance on the fact we are a chain-heavy process, with one purchase transaction often relying on multiple other transactions.

As mentioned above, chains can fit neatly into the “lack of certainty” concern that many consumers and industry stakeholders will feel about our process. The “one falls, we all fall” nature of some chain transactions puts many consumers on edge, and even if chains can be reforged, we know this tends to take time, which can lead to delays which again impact across the board on those reliant on meeting a deadline.

So, what solutions can we introduce into the process in order to ensure that – particularly where we have chains of transactions reliant on each other – we are not all living or dying by every single link holding strong, because quite frankly, the reality of situations (as you will know) is that chains do frequently break.

First up, is having transparent information from the get-go. With all information available up front, you lessen the chance of one party breaking their link when they find out details of a property that should really have been known at the outset.

Next is having a full view of the chain. How can we work the process through if we’re not aware of what transactions are within the chain, and what we are reliant upon to make our transactions work? Chain-view technology can make a considerable difference here, allowing all parties to see the progress of each transaction in the chain, and to be able to pre-empt any potential issues as they arise.

As you can see, it’s providing solutions to the lack of transparency, the lack of certainty and the accompanying delays within the process, and its perhaps ensuring we are not reliant on other transactions within long chains at all, in order to get individual purchases/sales over the line.

This is not science fiction for the conveyancing sector – these solutions already exist, and we have the ability to introduce them, and benefit greatly from them. Breaking the chain “culture” within our sector will go a long way to meeting those areas of concern and solving the problems that accompany them.

Beth Rudolf is Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association (CA)

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