Thursday, 17 March 2011

Time to change how we sell and buy property

It still amazes me how archaic the system is for conveyancing of residential property in this country.

The whole system is screaming out for reform and unfortunately the stakeholders that have interest in this market seem very reluctant to take any steps in an effort to improve the system and make it far more consumer friendly.

The following aspects of the process continue to frustrate me.

The old fashion and wholly unnecessary terminology used within conveyancing and documents and transfers. It is a wonder how anybody including lawyers can understand some of the clauses that I have come across. There is a need for these documents to be written in plain English and structured in such a way that they are easy to follow. Those working within the commercial contract sector should be brought into help to bring residential conveyancing documentation into the 21st Century.

The significant difference in approach adopted by conveyancers spread around the country. Some belong to local protocols others belong to national protocols and we also have the Law Society protocol that is often cited. Why on earth can we not all operate under the same protocol and why has the Law Society allowed this crazy situation to continue for so long?

The same applies to Contracts. I come across so many variations for the standard conditions of sale and just do not understand why the terms and conditions cannot be the same for each transaction unless of course it is a leasehold or other common variation.

The endless pre contract enquiries that are sent out. Surely again questions about the title, about the search results could be cut down and the onus put on the seller to complete standard enquiries as part of the contract pack.

There must exist a simpler process and one that would make it far less expensive and a lot quicker for the consumer. It amazes me that the Law Society has never attempted as far as I am aware to put pressure on the government to look at this area of law and to put forward proposal for reform. It is difficult I know to set out rules when a lot of the practicalities rest on completion dates, mortgage offers etc but surely something can be done and done very quickly to uniform the documentation and make the process a lot simpler and easy to follow.

I just wonder whether solicitors have  a vested interest in creating the illusion that there is far more involved in the conveyancing transaction then there really is so as to justify their fees.

Having said that bearing in mind how low fees are now I doubt that this observation could be regarded as valid. If anything the fact that the fee scales have come down makes it even more important for the process to be simplified and made quicker.

I do not profess to have the answers but I am more than happy to be involved in finding a solution. The Labour government have the courage to introduce home information packs and although the legislation was flawed it did at least present an attempt to make the process quicker and indeed succeeded to a certain extent in speeding up the transaction.

I still find it incredible that the last set of real reform  made to the conveyancing process  happened  back in 1925.

The new Law Society Quality Conveyancing Scheme is designed as I understand to improve standards within the profession and although I still have reservations as to whether it will achieve its desired objective, it does anger me to think that so much time has been put in to putting the scheme when the resources might have been better diverted into reviewing and putting together proposals for the long overdue reform to our residential conveyancing process.
Morgan Jones and Pett are solicitors who provide legal advice and services to clients based in England and Wales and who can be contacted on 01603877000 or via email at

1 comment:

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