Over 5,600 law firms have signed up to Lender Exchange, a website which stores information on conveyancing panel firms for mortgage lenders.
Justin Parkinson, managing director of Decision First, which operates Lender Exchange, said the total made up around 92% of the 6,272 firms that carried out conveyancing in the UK.
Mr Parkinson said the main reason for firms to sign up was to maintain their place on the panels of Santander and the Lloyds Banking Group – the two main backers of the scheme.
“They want to maintain a good working relationship with these lenders and prepare for the others as they come on board.”
Mr Parkinson said specialist buy-to-let lender Fleet Mortgages had joined last month. Fleet’s panel is currently restricted to members of the Conveyancing Association.
He said another specialist lender, which he did not name, had joined Lender Exchange in the last few days and three more lenders, all medium-sized, were in the process of signing up. A large lender was described as “waiting in the wings”.
Mr Parkinson said that, just like the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), membership of Lender Exchange did not guarantee a place on a panel.
However, he said that law firms that failed to be accepted onto the panels of either the Lloyds or Santander would not be charged a fee.
Mr Parkinson said 99% of the firms which had signed up had provided updated details of their indemnity insurance. He said a new function had been added to Lender Exchange in the last few weeks allowing firms which act for at least one lender to verify each other’s client accounts.
He said he was “more than happy” to talk to the Law Society about the relationship between Lender Exchange and CQS, although nine months of negotiations failed to reach a conclusion.
Mr Parkinson said information sharing could make the reaccreditation process for CQS “more streamlined and less of a burden” for firms.
“They are more focused on customer service standards and procedures. We are more interested in the nuts and bolts of firms. We could pass information directly to the Law Society for reaccreditation. Our whole focus is on making lawyers’ lives easier.”
He added that he had spoken with Des Hudson, chairman of the society’s online conveyancing portal scheme, Veyo, at the end of last year, but he had not yet had a response.
Lender Exchange was launched last summer, and by October more than 2,700 conveyancing firms had joined.