Diary of a high street conveyancer: 23rd October 2023

As I often say, it is tough being a conveyancer. It is so dependent on many factors beyond our control and even as the process becomes more digitised, this does not get over the universal truth which is that we are dealing with people.  

They have their own ideas and plans as to when they want to move and I do believe that the art of being a good conveyancer is to manage the expectations of clients. But it is always important to remember that many of us are also the owners of businesses. And that creates challenges.

It was therefore disappointing to read this week about the £64 million hole left following the closure of a firm. This is following the closure of two other large firms. And it is even more disappointing to read that the way in which this deficit will be filled is by firms being asked to pay more into the Compensation Fund.

The obvious first thought was why had no one spotted that the monies were missing from the client account. And why had the firm been allowed to take over another firm?  but those are all questions that will hopefully be asked? Although I feel that if it were a smaller firm, then this would not have been allowed to happen and the regulators would have acted sooner

When thinking about what it costs to run a conveyancing practice, I am  sure that clients would be surprised to learn of the ever growing cost of our PI cover and the other increasing costs which have to be paid before we can even make any money to pay our own mortgages. I do not believe that conveyancing is where the “fat cat” lawyers are (and sorry as I hate that expression) but the narrative can give that impression. Increasing house prices and more work surely means more profit. We know that is not always the case as increased fees means higher PI premiums.

And I saw in the papers over the weekend that the Government may be thinking about cutting SDLT again, or providing other incentives to first time buyers. Having watched a very good programme on the BBC this week about the property market, it reinforced the belief that the housing market is so closely linked to the economy and the market is used as a tool to boost the economy when needed.

I think that the pressure on conveyancers comes from all directions – this is just another pressure that we do not need. And even more conveyancers will start to leave the profession if more and more financial burden is placed on them and their firms. It is a sad time.

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