Diary of a high street conveyancer: 16th January 2023

Last week, I wrote about the Building Safety Act and the increasing responsibilities placed on conveyancers. It led me to think about what it was like 35 years ago when I first started in this world which I love so much.

If I remember correctly – and please correct me if I am wrong – there were very few searches that needed to be done. If my recollection is right, then there were no environmental searches, water and drainage searches, and so on.

Now, a look on a search provider’s site shows the multitude of searches that are possible. Who would know where to start? Chancel checks, Energy and Infrastructure, Radon Risk. So many, and it takes a good conveyancer to know which searches are relevant to which properties.

Gone are the days when a buyer’s solicitor was in the area where the buyer was buying and would know whether or not a mining report was required.

Now we have “packaged searches” comprising the most popular searches, rather than the conveyancer deciding what is appropriate to the area, the property, and the clients.

Many such searches are also tied up with some form of referral fee arrangement between the conveyancer and the search provider. And what is the difference between regulated and official searches? And why do my searches (official) come back far quicker than those done by neighbouring firms (regulated)? And why don’t the estate agents appreciate the differences in the way searches are done?

This leads me to mention climate change. There are search products available relating to climate change, but is this something that we should be advising on? We receive the EPC on every transaction, but do we advise our clients on what it means? Are we all aware that the EPC rating on a rented property may need to be a C from 2028?

One thing is for sure – the job of the conveyancer is becoming more and more complex. In fact, a recent poll of nearly 200 readers of Today’s Conveyancer found that 77% are concerned about the increasing complexity of conveyancing work.

Where will our liabilities end?

This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.

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