Saturday, 31 January 2015

What to look for when purchasing a property sold through a power of attorney?

Buying a property from a person acting under a Power of Attorney should, according to Michael Riches, Trainee with MJP Conveyancing, pose no issue if all the relevant checks are made by your conveyancer. 

Some people may be concerned that the attorney does not have the right to sell the property; however, an explanation of what an attorney is and what powers they have should calm those concerns.

What is a Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows someone (the Donor) to appoint someone to act on their behalf (the Attorney or Donee) and make decisions for them. These decisions can be in relation to Property and Financial matters or Health and Welfare matters.

There are two types of powers, a General Power of Attorney and a Lasting Power of Attorney (previously known as an Enduring Power of Attorney).

A General Power only lasts while the Donor has mental capacity and may cease to have effect after a set period and will cease to have effect if the Donor loses mental capacity. In a property transaction any person can appoint an attorney under this general power to act on their behalf and sign all necessary documents.

A Lasting Power is only effective when registered at the Office of the Public Guardian. These are effective even when the Donor loses mental capacity, indeed these are often entered into in anticipation of the Donor becoming ill and losing capacity. The key to this Power though is that the Power must be granted and entered into when the Donor still has capacity and is fully aware of the arrangement and implications of the document.

As a Buyer you should be aware of who you are purchasing from and in what capacity they are acting. If you are aware you are Purchasing from someone acting under a Power of Attorney and the Power is still valid then your right to a good title is protected. However, if it is proved that you knew the Power was invalid or had expired or had previous knowledge about the circumstances in which the attorney’s power would be terminated then this right is not protected and you will not be able to register the property in your name.

When instructing your conveyancer you should make them aware at the outset, if you yourself are aware, that the property is being sold by someone acting under a Power of Attorney.  If this is not immediately apparent then it will be revealed within the contract documentation sent by the Seller’s conveyancer. The checks your conveyance should make, and you should ensure are made, are: 

Has a fully certified copy of the Power been supplied?

Is the Donor still alive – if the Donor is deceased then the Power automatically ceases to have effect and the attorney cannot act in that capacity

What type of Power is it – in a conveyancing transaction the Power must allow for the attorney to act in property and financial matters.

How many Donees are acting – this is important as both attorneys must agree to the sale and sign the documentation.

If all of the above is provided and correct then your right as a Buyer to a good title is protected.

Further guidance can be found on the website. This provides a lot of information on the Power of Attorney. Furthermore, if you would like to sell a property under a Power of Attorney it details the process to appoint an Attorney.

MJP Conveyancing 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

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Norwich - A fine City to buy a property in

The news of Radio One choosing  Norwich as its venue for its Big Weekend in May will undoubtedly help to remind people of the popularity of Norwich as a place to live. 

Based in East Anglia and situated about 20 miles away from some of the very best coastlines in the UK, Norwich continues to grow not only as a top tourist destination but also as an ideal location to establish a home.

So what does Norwich offer?

There is much more to Norwich than Delia Smith and Stephen Fry and a former Premiership football team.  

Norwich bustles with good and varied shops, restaurants and pubs and offers a unique quality of life. 

There is an excellent theatre hosting some of the top shows in the country.

Norwich is also the gateway to the Norfolk Broads. There are  Nature Reserves  and it is also situated close to a number of the top Natural Trust Land/Properties 

Though there is a large selection of restaurants and public houses it would be remiss not to make specific reference to the Last Wine Bar  and The Georgian Town House  There are lively eateries and ones which offer good quality food. 

Norwich Property Market

Finding a property in Norwich may however prove difficult. 

The opening of the Eleveden by pass has increased the drive time to and from London and with a good train service running from Nowich to London with Trains every hour transport routes into the capital are better than have ever been.  This has led to an increase in demand and prices in Norfolk have been rising and will continue to rise this year. 

There is a distinct shortage of stock in Norwich at all price points which is a situation that has been in play since 2009 and it just keeps getting worse.

According to Rightmove the majority of sales in Norfolk during the last year were detached properties, selling for an average price of £259,940. Terraced properties sold for an average of £157,736, with semi-detached properties fetching £172,339.

If you are looking for help to find a property give Pymm and Co and Abbotfox agents which have a good reputation in the area.    Try also the local property newspaper edited by Caroline Culot

As for conveyancing solicitors beware if you are directed to a specific firm by an estate agent as commission fees are rife in the City and add to the cost of buying a home. 

At MJP we have no ties with any agent and offer competitive fees.  You can obtain a  quotation here 

For more information on Norwich Tourist Information Board 

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

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Will the arrival of the 'Facebook Conveyancer' mark the end of the traditionalist approach?

I understand the  ideals behind a traditional conveyancer and the need for all conveyancers to act at all times in a professional manner. However  I must  question whether the demand for a traditional conveyancing service is still as great as it was at one time and indeed sufficient secure longevity in an ever changing and highly competitive market. 

A typical traditional conveyancer is someone who would not touch a conveyance unless a fee in excess of £1000 is charged, who operates with a secretary and per perhaps also an assistant, who takes long lunch breaks and who  loves to engage in long meetings and telephone calls with clients.  

He or she will also subscribe to the pigeon post mode of communication.  Receiving a letter placing it in a lovely wooden in tray and then after lunch getting out the dictaphone and dictating a very and long and flowery letter in reply.  The dictation would then sit on the tape until a couple of further long letters joined it when a few days later it would find its way to the secretary for transcribing. Once typed the letter would then be left for the conveyancer to check and sign, probably after  the completion of an afternoon on the golf course.  Three or four days later following the arrival of the letter into the office it would find itself on the post room awaiting despatch.  

As for technology, there would be a PC standing on the desk and one which  would probably be turned on but rarely used.  Perhaps the occasional surfing of the net would take place from time to time mainly though to check the latest cricket score. 

This description may be extreme and only representative of  a few but I am sure we have all come across a conveyancer who could be connected to some or all of these features.  I acknowledge there will always be a place for the traditionalist because there are some clients who are prepared to pay for this type of service and who have the money to meet the cost.   The question of whether this demand will last forever given the arrival of a generation who have grown up with technology and social media remains to be seen. 

The growth in Instant Messaging, Facebook, SnapChat and Twitter should be sending out alarm bells to these traditionalists, particularly the small traditional high street firms.   It may still be possible to demand high fees and to continue with traditional work practices but unless  change is on the agenda the prospect of longevity in a fast changing and competitive market is low. 

There is a high demand amongst a large group of the population for instant communication and greater transparency.  The time for a smoke and mirrors approach to conveyancing is at an end, the educated client does not need to be kept in the dark about what goes on behind the scenes, they want and indeed demand 24/7 access to all parts of the conveyancing process.  

The modern thinking client wishes to be notified on their smartphone when a development in the transition arises and also welcomes the ability to see post and other communication as and when it arrives.  This type of client also wishes to be able to communicate with his conveyancer electronically in ways which are already familiar such as Instant Messaging and Facebook. 

Snobbery is such that the traditional lawyer will look down and frown on the practices of a modern day conveyancer arguing that such service is vulgar and unprofessional.   Receiving an email or perhaps a message through an electronic case management system rather than a traditional letter in the post is often viewed as outrageous.  Add to this the practice of acting for a client outside one  mile radius of one’s office the Facebook conveyancer is often looked upon as a disgrace to his or her profession. 

Then there is the ongoing snipes as those conveyancers who charge low fees.   There seems to be a growing misconception around these firms.   Low fees do not always equate to an inferior service and those who sneer at 'bucket shop' conveyancers often fail to look through the anger and analyse why it is possible to run a successful business with such a low fee base.  There are many conveyancers out there who regard themselves as traditionalists, who charge high fees but who deliver a mediocre service.  On top of this many of these firms are operating under the misapprehension that they are making a profit out of the work.  The truth is that even though the Facebook conveyancer may be charging a low fee, the combination of good and efficient use if technology  and a low overhead base, often means that the business is well run. offers good client service and more to the point makes a profit.  

Rather than ranting and raving about these firms with a modern and forward approach to conveyancing, the energy of these doubters may be far better spent in carrying out a self appraisal and looking to challenge the traditional approach to conveyancing.  Is the technology you are using sufficient and advanced enough, do you really need all of those assistants and secretaries and has the time come to drop the old fashioned and generally unwanted modes of client communication. 

Who I ask though will have the last laugh.  The reality is that the Facebook Conveyancer has already arrived and guess what is making good money and building successful practices.  The time frame to get on board and to  begin competing with the likes of this new breed of lawyer is running short.  Right or wrong the life span of the traditional lawyer is limited and with the advent of ABS and the increased competition that time for charging large fees and dining out with clients is nearly at an end.  Only those with good technology and well oiled processes will be able to afford to stay in the market and survive.  

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

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

How many conveyancers give the correct advice on building insurance ?

Do you advise your client on insurance or do you make it clear that you are not an expert on insurance matters and that the client is better talking to an insurance expert?  If you do advise I suspect  you make think differently when  you read through what follows.

In line with current conveyancing practice if you are instructed by the client to check an insurance policy and you agree to do so there is an obligation on you to check the following issues:

  1. Is the amount of cover adequate?
  2. Is the sum index linked?
  3. Are the risks insured adequate?  Cross referencing perhaps to the result of your environmental search result. 
  4. Have all particular features  of the property such as a thatched roof been disclosed and are they adequately insured?
  5. Is the property attached to an adjoining property, if so does the insurance extend to damage to a neighbouring property where practicable? 
  6. Does the policy comply with the buyers lender requirements?

Most leasehold properties are cowered by insurance put into effect by the Freehold owner.  The policy still  needs however to be checked in the same way.  Additionally there may need to be extra cover put into effect to cover damage caused by an uninsured risk.  The client may remain liable under the lease including the covenants to repair and pay rent.  Some policies do not extend to flats where a resident is claiming social security benefits. 

Though the need to check where a lender is not involved is something which I would not offer to do ( I am not an expert in this field ) I would always make sure that where the client is borrowing  the client is made aware of the lender requirements for insurance.  It would be negligent not to do so. 

A lender’s particular requirements, set out in part 2 of the CML handbook, will stipulate:

-whether the buildings insurance policy must be in the joint names of the lender and the owners of the property, or whether it is sufficient for the lender’s interest to just be noted on the policy the maximum excess which is acceptable to the lender

-whether the lender requires written confirmation from the insurance company that they will notify the lender if the policy is not renewed, or is cancelled; and

-whether the lender requires a copy of the buildings insurance policy, and the last premium receipt, to be sent to them

It is also necessary to make the client aware of the need to take care and not to make a misrepresentation to the insurer. 

So next time you come to consider insurance as part of the exchange process do keep in mind the above and make a clear decision on whether to take on responsibility for advising or whether to make it clear to the client that the time has come for the client to take advice from an insurance specialist.   This is something which you may wish to address and make clear in the terms of your retainer. 

MJP Conveyancing  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

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Veyo - A Change in Strategy

It seems the guys at Veyo are now listening to feedback and taking what appears to be a different course with product development.  The news comes following a recent presentation made by Veyo.

The presentation was given by Paul Humphreys Veyo’s Programme Director. Some new and interesting information came to light during the session.  

It was already known that Veyo has a budget of around 10 million pounds but what was not clear was how much of the fund had been expended so far.  Though no figure was disclosed it was revealed that it is estimated the funding will only last until 2017 at which point Veyo will need to be self funding.  It seems they employ 95 people with 25 based in the UK.  There are a staggering 45 developers employed on the project. 

The aim is still to launch in Spring 2015 but there will no integration with CMS until 2016.  Until then the method of data entry will be  manual. 

Despite the indication given before Christmas, Veyo claims it will not compete with other CMS suppliers. 

Mr Humphreys explains that they no have a modern approach to sharing data which is necessary for CMS and other suppliers to integrate with Veyo, although the the data exchange system has yet to be designed.  Veyo would like to see the spec for this to be agreed between the LSSA (or individual suppliers if necessary) over the next 3 or 4 months. 

Following this there will be a development period and then a testing period after which suppliers could write their own integrations into the Veyo platform. Realistically, Veyo accepted that they would not expect any CMS suppliers to be ready to deliver an integrated product for a least 9 months from today. Veyo claim that whilst its system will work without CMS integration it will work better with it.

Again, despite the massive investment, and 45 developers, there was still no demonstration of the system (although they are apparently in a test phase now).  

An outline of  headline features was however given . Perhaps the two key features were that Veyo would store the data for both sides of a transaction (with appropriate security) and they also wanted to display the “chain view” so a client can see all of the transactions in the chain. Uncanny that this is what I was suggesting should happen when Veyo first announced its arrival.  There was a clear need for a unique identity and it seems that this may now be what is happening with this change in course.  

Interestingly however, Mr Humphrys was not suggesting that lawyers should use their system where they have a solution from another suppliers. He said they may wish to use it where existing suppliers don't have the ability to do it. It is unclear what he meant by this as if it offers a unique chain data view then why would lawyers not wish to use it along side their existing CMS?

Still no news however on pricing! 

Veyo said it is proposing a flexible pricing structure which will consist of a licence fee and a transaction fee but the details of this have not been announced yet. Nor have they formed an opinion on how CMS suppliers and others should integrate with Veyo commercially. 

They are talking to lenders about Veyo but there is no suggestion that lenders would mandate the use of this over any other portal at this point.  Still no views on where the lender aspect to Veyo will fit in given the stronghold Lender Exchange has in this area. 

Veyo was asked about the number of users they anticipate will sign up  and in response all they could say is that they were pleased with the large number of pre-registrations on their websites.   No contract signing will take place until March. I suspect the number of registered lawyers will when fall far short of actual  users with much depending on the eagerly waited announcement on price. 

This sudden though not unexpected change of direction will be welcomed.  The arrogance or self denial which prevailed seems to have left and it is encouraging that Veyo despite claiming they had consulted with the legal technology industry has now made a commitment to do this.  There is no doubt lawyers and those like myself who have an interest in the project have helped to  guide Veyo onto a less rocky road. 

The empathise has moved away from the case management aspects of their system though this may turn out to be a cynical move to get other CMS suppliers on board.  It must be kept in mind that until integration with CMS can commence users of Veyo would need to fall back in the CMS within Veyo. This may lead to some users sticking with Veyo. 

The lack of a clear message on how users might wish to use the system when they already have invested in a CMS still seems lacking. Veyo appear to be saying that some users may wish to use aspects of Veyo that their current CMS do not provide.   Interestingly they are not proposing to charge a lower fee for this reduced usage. 

I suspect they are thinking here of the ‘Chain View’ which is now the USP of the system.  A good idea.  There still however remains an issue as we all know a chain is as strong as its weakest link. If it is not mandatory for all lawyers to be part of Veyo the chain will simply breakdown and become worthless.  Also what is there to prevent other CMS suppliers not building a chain view component of their own.  This would be at no additional cost to the user and would then render Veyo redundant to their existing users.  

The jury is still out I am afraid.  If I was a shareholder in Mastek however, I would still despite this change in approach be asking some probing questions about the level of investment and future expenditure in a product which stills seems to struggling to find a commercially viable identity different to that of existing and well established CMS suppliers.  

MJP Conveyancing 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

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Referral Fees - Good or Bad?

There is nothing more entertaining than watching two conveyancing lawyers engaged in an argument over the use of referral fees within the property market.   There are always plenty of sparks and it is clear that feelings around this subject run high.  

So what are referral fees?

They take several different forms.  The most common is the introduction fee.  This involves  for example a solicitor paying an estate  agent for referring a client looking for conveyancing services to that solicitor.  The fee can be anything up to £300.  Another common one is the  marketing fee.  This where a  a solicitor pays an intermediary for a ‘lead’, that is a name and contact number, to enable that solicitor to contact the potential client direct.  Its not just estate agents who refer work on for payment.  Insurance brokers also do it and can receive substantial payments for referring clients to panels of solicitors run by  third parties who also take a payment. 

Referral fees have already been outlawed in the area of litigation but still remain lawful in the property industry. 

So what are the perceived  benefits?

To begin with those referring will argue that by having control over the choice of solicitor albeit for payment, the referrer can keep control of quality and ensure the client receives the best service.  There is some credibility to this argument as agents and brokers are in making the referral putting their reputation at risk if the conveyancer fails to deliver.   The problem arises however when you bring conflict into the equation and question the motive behind the referral.  Is it as it should be to ensure the best possible outcome for the client or is it more sinister than that?  Is it because the introducer is out to maximize his return on acquiring that client?  In other words the introducer may be focused solely on the money.  In this case there is a real danger the client will be directed in the direction of the highest bidder. 

The other fundamental flaw in all of these arrangements is that the client if left to pay for the referral.  The client may not be aware of this even though there is a professional duty on the part of the lawyer to disclose the existence of the referral fee.  So this is how it flows.  The agent for example may direct a client to a conveyancer and tell the client the conveyancer is good and will only charge say £450.   The agent is more likely than not to keep from the client that out of that £450 the agent will receive a ‘kick back’ of say £150.  So in the end the client is paying £150 more than if she or he had gone the the conveyancer direct.   

The conveyancer may argue that if the client had come direct the fee would have still been  £450 because without the arrangement the conveyancer would have to spend more on advertising to generate new work.   It is unlikely therefore that profitability of a forward thinking conveyancing business would improve if referral fees were banned.  Instead these businesses would have to pay a high price for more general marketing initiatives. The only difference and one that means a lot to many practitioners is the latter situation would leave the lawyer to practice without ties and with integrity and professional independence fully intact. 

The difficulty many practitioners encounter is the inability to compete for clients on a level playing field.  Brokers and agents have access to the client at the very outset of a client’s desire to sell and or buy.   The conveyancer does not get a look in!    The opportunity presented by conveyancers to offer to the public direct Home Information Packs when they were obligatory, helped but as we know the present government in its wisdom did way with these.  It is clear that if lawyers could get to the potential client first the client would have a far greater opportunity to avoid pressure from agents and brokers alike and perhaps be left to make a more informed choice.  

Sadly I can not see any future government having the courage to bring in reform would provide this opportunity and for this reason right or wrong referral fees are likely to be here  for many years to come. 

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

Saturday, 10 January 2015

A call for more transparency over mortgage fees

A campaign designed to put pressure on lenders to provide greater transparency when quoting financial fees and charges has had a degree of success with the Chancellor George Osborne announcing in the delivery of his Autumn Statement plans to make mortgage fees clear. 

Spearheaded by the consumer champion Which the move by the Chancellor came after 45,000 people supported the campaign and a further 3,000 contacting their local MP. 

The Council of Mortgage Lenders has been asked by the Government to investigate and come up with some practical solutions  as well as guidelines to make it easier to compare mortgage fees and the cost of mortgages generally. 

Selecting a mortgage can be quite costly and Which report that a couple with a new £100,000 mortgage could find themselves paying £1503 more over two years because of mortgage fees. 

Which also found that only 3 % of consumers could correctly compare five mortgage deals from cheapest to the most expensive from information currently presented by the lenders. 

For more details of the campaign and to provide support visit : 

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

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Fixed rate mortgage compared with Tracker/Variable rate mortgages

The choice between a fixed rate and tracker mortgage is often a difficult one which is made more problematic by the number of different products currently on offer.

According to Which Compare service fixed rate mortgage deals are proving most popular.  In an article published at the end of 2014 Which reported:

‘A huge 76% of people who filtered mortgage results on the website from the start of September 2014 to the end of November 2014 asked to see fixed rate mortgage deals. This compared to 11% for tracker mortgages and just 2% for discount variable rate mortgage deals’.

So what are these options?

Fixed rate mortgages options

As the name suggests, a fixed rate mortgage has an interest rate that is fixed for an initial term - say 2, 5 or even 10 years. This means your monthly mortgage payment will remain the same over the period, giving you certainty and allowing you to budget for a major item of expenditure. At the end of the fixed rate period, the mortgage usually transfers to the lender's variable rate.

Although many economists are not expecting a Bank of England base rate increase until at least late this year, this particular option clearly has some appeal.

According to Which:

‘There were 976 five-year fixed rate mortgage deals on the market in mid-December and 1,505 two year deals. The lowest rate on the market was a two-year fixed rate deal on offer from The Post Office at 1.37% on a 60% loan-to-value (LTV) mortgage. A five-year fixed rate deal is available from HSBC at 2.48%. Over the past three months a number of mortgage lenders have also launched competitively priced 10-year fixed rate deals. For those with a 40% deposit Santander has a 10-year fixed rate deal of 3.44% and Woolwich has a 3.45% offer. People with a 30% deposit would be able to apply for a 10-year fix from Nationwide at a rate of 3.49%’

Tracker/Variable mortgages

Tracker mortgages usually track the Bank of England base rate, and, as a result, your mortgage repayments will change when the base rate moves up or down. Before applying for a tracker mortgage, you should therefore assess whether you would be able to afford for your repayments to increase – if you wouldn't be able to, a tracker mortgage is not the best option for you

According to Which tracker mortgages are on the decline:

‘Over the past nine months the number of tracker mortgages on the market has been steadily falling. There were a total of 482 on the market in April 2014, this had dropped to 330 by August.

In mid-December the figure stood at just 299, with 210 two-year tracker mortgages on offer and no five-year deals. The best rate on offer comes from TSB with a two-year tracker mortgage at 1.09%, tracking 0.59% above base rate’.

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 01603877067 or via email at

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