Diary Of A High Street Conveyancer: 27th November 2023

As I mentioned last week, it is difficult managing expectations coming into the Christmas period. It is also hard to manage those expectations when we know that estate agents want as many matters to exchange prior to the Christmas break even if completion is not until the New Year. 

It stops people changing their minds over Christmas dinner when the talk turns to property prices and a downturn in the market and the question is why would you buy a house at this time?

It is even harder to manage expectations when the unexpected happens. And this is what we were faced with this week.  An article on this site on Friday attracted the most comments I have seen on here; other conveyancing sites/ forums had as many comments. With a move towards digital conveyancing, what happens when the cloud bursts? It did this week with an estimated report that around eighty firms are affected.

I have transactions with some of the local firms and I have found it hard to get any information but I can try and reassure my clients and just be grateful that I have not yet exchanged on any with those firms. However, reports I have read showed that there were chains that could not complete and clients were putting furniture into storage and having to secure temporary accommodation. It was all very reminiscent of the Simplify incident two years ago. Will it become more common as more and more of the process is digitised?

My firm is not completely paperless, more paper lite. This means that there are policies in place which would enable the firm to continue working in such a scenario, but with a push to paper free offices, there is danger and concern as to how firms would operate with an internet issue.

Conveyancers want the best for clients and being put in the position where we cannot provide updates and have limited information to impart and no sure reassurance, it is distressing for everyone. Imagine being the client who has waiting around sixteen weeks to get a moving date and for this then to happen. Imagine being the conveyancer who has spent sixteen weeks getting the client ready to move and agreeing a moving date for this to happen.

There are lots of questions I have in relation to what happens to mortgage monies which have been received, what happens if mortgage offers are about to run out, but my strongest feeling is that we need to be kind to each other. It is not the clients’ fault; it is not the conveyancers’ fault.  If you are in a chain which is impacted by this, be patient and try to keep everyone calm.  Everyone is caught up in something which was never anticipated.

As I have said before , conveyancing is stressful – this is just another added stress that Is not of the conveyancers’ or clients’ making. Be kind and patient and calm.

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