The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published its response to the call for ways of improving the home buying and selling process.

You can read the response in full here

The areas that the government suggested need improving include:

  • Providing a better experience for the consumer;
  • Reducing the time from offer to completion; and
  • Reducing the number of failed transactions.

Key proposals going forward are as follows:

  1. Increased regulation for estate agents. It has been suggested that estate agents will be required to hold a professional qualification. This will be similar to the current regulation system in Australia for estate agents.
  2. Working with estate agents, their trade bodies, the ombudsman and the regulator to develop a standardised approach to reporting referral fees.
  3. Developing and publishing ‘how to buy’ and ‘how to sell’ guides
  4. Improving the process of via complaints of the new build market
  5. Making the release of funds better to improve ‘moving day’.

The government confirmed that it is ‘not minded’ to encourage buyers and sellers to use the same conveyancer. Although this may have sped up the process of conveyancing transactions, the concerns regarding the conflict of interests are too great. The response said that:

“the current buying process was built around the concept of Caveat Emptor (‘buyer beware’), having a conveyancer who was clearly working for your interests was an integral part of this process. It was felt that having a conveyancer working for both sides would lead to reduction in consumer confidence, increase the risk of fraud and increase the cost of audits faced by firms.”

Whilst the above proposal is positive in terms of protecting the individual buyer or seller, conveyancers have also been encouraged to use digital platforms to allow them to communicate more easily. In order to implement the use of technology in residential law, e-conveyancing would have to become mandatory. This is something that the ministry is reluctant to do right now, but acknowledges Australia’s success from using an online system which could be used as a template should something similar be implemented in this country.

How will e-Conveyancing benefit me?

E-conveyancing may streamline a transaction in the future, however many solicitors are concerned about the increased risk for fraud this system may allow. In addition, any reliance on technology in a conveyancing process will no doubt have an impact on elderly or vulnerable clients who may become further disenfranchised by the procedure. And whilst technological solutions often streamline procedures, the need to discuss individual needs, concerns and to provide bespoke solutions will always require personal contact with a conveyancer to smooth the way.

If e-conveyancing is utilised in the future, solicitors will have to review whether the risk to a client is worth making the process more efficient.

If you would like further information about the conveyancing process, or are thinking of moving home, please get in touch with a member of our Residential Property Solicitors at 0161 941 4000 or email us