By Legal Futures Associate Search Acumen
- UK average house prices increased by 10.0% over the year to November 2021, up from 9.8% in October 2021
Andy Sommerville, Director at Search Acumen, says: “November’s figures point to continued strong demand that is outstripping supply and pushing up prices. This demonstrates the scale of Covid-19’s impact on how and where people want to live.
“The figures are yet to show the effects of Omicron on the market, and we are likely to see how this impacted consumer confidence in the months ahead. We are also likely to see whether the Bank of England’s decision to introduce the first interest rate rise since August 2018, has any impact on demand, particularly with first time buyers or buyers with low incomes. That being said, I would still expect such a minor rate rise to only have a marginal impact compared to the social dynamics driving demand.
“While Omicron’s impact is yet to be fully understood, as with previous spikes in transmission, it is probable that this variant will only serve to inspire more people to consider whether their home meets their lifestyle priorities in a world shaped by the pandemic.
“All this suggests an ongoing period of elevated market activity which will create crunch points for Conveyancers. As property market professionals look ahead to a busy few months, we urge the industry to embrace the spirit of innovation that we saw flourish at the height of the pandemic. In 2022, while managing the public health emergency remains the priority, we are looking forward to a new stage of this pandemic, where natural immunity and vaccination make it possible to divert our focus back to more normal patterns of economic and social activity. Despite this, changes in consumer mindsets will be permanent – house buyers will no longer tolerate transaction delays or cumbersome, labour-intensive administration processes and businesses that fail to adapt quickly enough will be left behind.
“This does not necessarily mean a complete overhaul of existing systems, but instead a recognition of the cumulative impact of incremental improvements in individual processes, forming a pathway to end-to-end digitisation. One such example is HM Land Registry’s new digital-only process for submitting AP1 applications which lawyers must adopt by November. Our research suggests that just digitising the AP1 process can save over half an hour of processing time for every transaction improve accuracy of submissions and reduce requisition rates. This equates to over 500,000 hours of reduced administration annually across the sector. The conveyancing sector needs to adopt a proactive mindset, seeing the migration to digital as an opportunity to work more efficiently, claw back time for higher value advisory tasks, and better serve clients who are increasingly savvy in terms of their customer service expectations.”