"I’ve said before that I don’t believe such reform requires wholesale change, but that doesn’t mean change isn’t necessary."
With the Election result providing perfect clarity – sarcasm - we can now move on to the big question: What happens to the housing and mortgage markets post-Election?
Despite all the manifesto commitments – and we’re talking about some sizeable State intervention in a number of cases – this is a process which does not change overnight. Getting up to 200, or 300, thousand new homes each year – regardless of whether they’re affordable, or whether they come from Councils, or private developers – cannot be achieved quickly.
Anyone who thinks otherwise is in for a rude awakening, and may well need to recalibrate their brain when it comes to politician’s promises. Add in the new environment of a Conservative Party reliant on the DUP in order to pass through the Bills required, and we have a further dollop of uncertainty about the way forward, and how to get to the numbers required.
But, without doubt, those are the numbers that will be needed if we’re going to match supply to demand. On top of this, has to be a renewed focus on reforming the house-buying process – something which has garnered a great deal of attention in recent months and should hopefully be a priority for this new Conservative/DUP non-coalition.
I’ve said before that I don’t believe such reform requires wholesale change, but that doesn’t mean change isn’t necessary. When it comes to conveyancing, let’s be blunt, many firms are not up to scratch and are not helped in their endeavours by a process which is still using decades-old systems. That can be changed relatively quickly, and there is also plenty of fat that can (and should) be trimmed in order to make the conveyancing dish far more appetising.
In all of this, we have to put ourselves in the shoes of the consumer. I read some comments recently with regard to the Conveyancing Association’s support for the house-buying changes, in which one ‘commentator/keyboard warrior’ said they ‘bristled’ every time they saw the word ‘stakeholders’ or ‘consumers’ used. However, if we’re not looking to get a better process for the consumers, who are we looking to get one for?
Let’s make no bones about this, the conveyancing process is likely to be one of the most stressful situations that consumers are ever going to be in. It takes time, it’s an unknown quantity, it’s reliant on the slowest conveyancer, it’s complicated, it can be costly, it’s all of the above and much more. And therefore if we can make a number of changes which make it less stressful for the consumer then it will surely be worth it?
Those who think that changing conveyancing should just be for the firm’s benefit, are incredibly wide of the mark. We should want to make this process better, and it’s likely that utilising the technology available, is going to help a great deal. As will a growing involvement from the advisory community in determining who their clients use for their conveyancing.
Getting this right, will put everyone a couple of steps ahead of the curve before we start. Don’t leave it to chance, take the initiative, make the recommendation, and put your client in the best position straight away. We may be waiting some significant time before the process changes in order to get everyone out in front.