Home sellers “would pay more for faster conveyancing”

Ridgway: Slow and fragmented process

Almost nine in 10 vendors would pay more to have a faster conveyancing process, new research has revealed.

A survey by estate agency services business iamproperty found the conveyancing process taking too long was property sellers’ biggest frustration (50%), followed by time-wasting (people viewing the property and not planning to buy, 48%) and wishing solicitors were more proactive (46%).

Getting their property ‘sale ready’ before it went onto the market was appealing to vendors, as the benefit of transaction speed outweighed additional costs.

Some 88% said they would be prepared to pay more for “a more digital, smoother conveyancing process”. The research said: “Vendors are willing to pay for it, because in today’s world, for the majority, speed and convenience outweigh costs.”

Vendors were most likely to find their own conveyancer (31%), although estate agent recommendations were important too (22%).

Top reasons for choosing a particular conveyancer included offering additional services, a faster timeline, and specialism in the type of property/sale.

Three-quarters of estate agents polled said any new technology that would speed up sales and aid the conveyancing process appealed to them too, with the conveyancing process taking too long their biggest issue as well (62%), followed by poor communication/no updates from solicitors (31%).

Ben Ridgway, co-founder of iamproperty, said: “The volume of property transactions in the UK has more than doubled in the last 10 years, from 714,000 in 2012 to over 1.3 million in 2022. But processes haven’t caught up and the adoption of impactful tech solutions is lagging behind.

“Couple that with a continued decline in the number of conveyancers (10% in the last 10 years) and it’s no wonder the process is still slow and fragmented.”

Transaction times have grown from an average of 82 days in 2007 to 132 days last year, he observed. “Estate agents are feeling the impact too, taking the brunt of it when clients are frustrated, as well as the knock-on effect of transactions not running as smoothly as they could be.

Meanwhile, the fourth iteration of the BASPI – Buyer’s and Seller’s Property Information form – was launched last week.

Developed by the upfront information working group of the cross-industry Home Buyers and Sellers Group, the BASPI is a ‘single source of truth’ dataset, designed to include all the information required on a property when it is put on the market for sale.

The latest version introduces eight new questions, including a move away from a specific question on building safety regarding the EWS (External Wall System) form, to a wider question on overall building safety and remediation to capture anything within the seller’s knowledge about building safety since the publication of the Building Safety Regulations.

Other changes include requests for more information as a direct result of the National Trading Standards Estate & Letting Agent Team guidance on mandatory material information to be provided at the point a property is put up for sale.

Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association and a key member of the working group, said the changes followed an annual review of the BASPI.

“This is all about ensuring stakeholders secure the information they need to be able to confidently provide it to consumers allowing them to make a fully-informed decision about the property and whether they want to proceed with plans to purchase.”

Finally, Coadjute, the blockchain network for the property market, last week announced a £4m investment funding round.

The company aims to provide the “missing link” in conveyancing transactions by connecting conveyancers with estate agents and mortgage lenders and allowing them to share progress updates, property information, digital identities and payments.

The investment was led by Manchester-based Praetura Ventures, with other significant investors including Reech Corporations Group.

Coadjute chief executive Dan Salmons said: “Industry leaders are increasingly talking about a truly digitised the property market, but can’t imagine how that gets delivered.

“Coadjute have been investing in the technology that enables that future, everything from up front information to smart contracts, digital identity to synchronised settlement.”

The company has now raised £14m in all, following a £1m pre-seed round in 2019, £3m seed round in 2020 and £6m round in 2021.

David Foreman, managing partner of Praetura Ventures, added: “Unlike other proptech companies, the key to Coadjute’s success is collaboration with incumbent players and using their platform to connect all the stakeholders involved in the sale of a property.

“Their proposition is unique to the industry. We want to help them continue to expand and move closer towards their vision of a connected property industry.”

Among those to join the network recently are Spicerhaart, the largest independent estate agency group, and well-known Midlands law firm Talbots Law, while top-15 mortgage lender Kensington, recently acquired by Barclays, has completed a project on how to best implement Coadjute’s technology.

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