Diary of a high street conveyancer: 31st July 2023

As a week progresses in conveyancing land, I do sometimes stop and think about the work. This week, I was thinking about my favourite part of the transaction. Is it when you call the client on completion to tell them they can pick up the keys? (And invariably they mention that they have been waiting in the agents…)

Is it when you call the client, that particular client who has really experienced the stress of a house move, to tell her that you have exchanged with completion in two weeks’ time and she bursts into tears? (that is a common reaction, leading to much embarrassment on the part of the client, while we tell them that it is common and is just a natural reaction to the stress they have been under without them even realising that they were under such stress)

Is it when you receive a Certificate of Compliance from the managing agents and know that you can now submit it to the Land Registry for them to complete the application to register and you can tell the lender that all requisitions have been dealt with?

Is it when you receive the completed application from the Land Registry for a new build property which completed in 2021?

We all have our different favourite parts of a transaction, especially those of us who deal with the transaction from start to finish. Up until some years ago, my favourite part was preparing the contract, printing the office copy entries, copying the Protocol forms and securing it all with a brightly coloured elastic band before sending to the buyers’ solicitor.

Job well done! Then with the advent and increased use of email, the use of a good case management system and the Land Registry portal with instant download of the title and supporting documents, the contract was sent even quicker. One email with several attachments. Job well done!

Well that was my favourite part…Until the advent of the pages of enquiries. I have been thinking about this over the last week and, with the discussion about enquiries still ongoing, I have come to the conclusion that the reason for the pages of enquiries could be due to the lack of human input. Is it that the enquiries are auto generated?

But even say, why ask about compliance with money laundering regulations, is the filed plan correct, are the fittings free of HP? Is it laziness? Look at the contract  – don’t ask me about the fittings or the filed plan.

So what was the favourite part of the transaction from a legal perspective is now just filled with dread to see what enquiries I get.

And some firms have the same enquiries on all transactions – is it lazy conveyancing? Is it lack of experience? Please only ask us the questions which are relevant.

Why don’t we start throwing back the unnecessary enquiries and ask why are we being asked these questions? Because at the end of the day, many of us just want our clients to move house with the minimum of fuss even if it means annoyance and irritation for us.

3 Responses

  1. I have had a full set of enquiries when selling a field, such as where is the electricity meter, any asbestos in the roof, where can the buyer collect the keys and the security code.

  2. Completely agree. Much prefer dealing with purchase transactions nowadays as I feel like I’m more in control.

    Usual firms raising pages of enquires that are completely standardised, more often than not I receive circa 20-40 enquiries on Freeholds with around 75% being standard or not legal enquiries.

    Given up referring them back to the CQS protocol just falls on death ears and before you know it you get the estate agents suggesting it’s you holding matters up.

    I believe it’s a combination of the race to the bottom mentality, firms paying extortionate referral fees with small profit margins.

    This results is cheap labour and lack of training etc. You can see the younger conveyancers adopting the mentality of “if in doubt just raise it” or if they see an enquiry they’ve not seen before they add it to their list and use it themselves next time. Irrespective of whether it’s necessary or not.

    A lot of firms are also outsourcing work abroad ( cheap labour) who again have minimal understanding of the uniqueness and complexities of land law in England and Wales. All leads to standard enquiries and ultimately a lack of common sense based conveyancing.

    I can honestly say my favourite part of the job now is dealing with a sensible pragmatic conveyancer on the other side of a transaction.

    That said I still live in hope experienced conveyancers will realise their worth and stick to their guns and charge fair fees for the ever increasing workload a transaction now requires and push back on the demands of estate agents and mortgage brokers demanding ridiculous fees for referring work. It sure is tough!

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