SPECIAL FEATURE: The role of the conveyancer
In all the many column inches devoted only to the best types of mortgage or the challenges of regulation, it would be worth spending a few moments to consider the conveyancer without whom the whole process would grind to a complete halt.
Solicitors or licenced conveyancers protect the interests of buyer, seller and lender and ensure that each and every transaction is concluded to the mutual benefit of all parties.
Of course, no process is infallible and as we are all aware in the rest of the mortgage system, mistakes and particularly delays are a fact of life. In the conveyancing world, a serious mistake can cost clients of all sides dearly and it is a testament to the quality of the profession that those errors are few and far between. They are the unsung heroes of the housing market and yet are only ever really thought about when there is a problem causing delay, and it is so much easier to blame delays on conveyancers even if they are not actually responsible.
For intermediaries who take such care to find the right mortgage, I am still surprised that they do not bring the same clarity to choosing the conveyancing service for their client. Although some clients might have a solicitor with whom they have already done business, most have had no prior relationship and are relying on the broker to provide a solution.
As we adopt more and more technology to build strong processes, greater numbers of intermediaries are beginning to recognise the importance of accessing the right conveyancing service that not only offers traditional strong service but is also ‘connected’ online, so that adviser and client can benefit from improved communication and speed of resolution. This means that up to date information is not only available as every stage of the process is reached, but also that information can be accessed not only on a desktop computer but also a laptop, tablet or smartphone. The savviest brokers are teaming up with the best conveyancers through online portals and matching the service they provide on the mortgage front with the best online conveyancing service.
Going beyond the normal
There is a tendency to look at flooding and other threats to property as the preserve of the surveyor. On a practical level that might be correct, but as many clients tend to opt for a basic valuation, whose only real value is to the lender, the conveyancer provides a hugely valuable service in the searches that are carried out
Searches are enquiries submitted to various authorities that provide your client with more information about the property they plan to purchase. The authorities include local councils, the Environmental Agency, and also coal and water authorities.
Searches provide crucial information relating to the property, for example whether or not the road serving it is a publicly adopted highway, whether there are any mineshafts in the immediate vicinity or it is subject to any planning enforcement notices.
What is becoming clear is that sometimes the standard searches are not enough and clients can sometimes be put at risk because the searches requested neglect to look at more modern phenomena such as the damage to saleability of property from the burgeoning wind farm industry. A recent case highlighted the importance for conveyancers to order a full suite of searches that cover every eventuality.
A conveyancer was successfully sued for damages, when a client in Cumbria bought a property where the normal searches did not reveal the imminent construction of a wind farm, even though the local community had been fighting unsuccessfully to halt the project. What is clear from this example is the need for conveyancers to ensure that clients are better protected and able to take into account not only the legacy problems of past mining and the current issues over potential flooding but also the more modern threats such as the blight caused by wind farms, for example.
As a portal to the best of conveyancing talent in the UK, we have recommended the use of a specialist service called Future Climate Info which can provide conveyancers with a suite of environmental reports on anything from contaminated land, flooding, ground stability as well as energy and infrastructure, along with comprehensive data to ensure that clients can be fully protected.
Conveyancing has come a long way from the Dickensian ‘quill pens and parchment’ image. Today’s house buying market demands that the profession should move with the times and that is why so many advisers are choosing to introduce clients only to conveyancers who have embraced the advantages of technology and its delivery of joined up communication and execution along with the most up to date information available on any and all threats to their new property.