The value attached to the advice process has never been higher

I can’t imagine there are too many transactions in the history of the UK property market which have completed within the ‘expected’ timescale, without any queries or without any combination of doubt, concern, stress, anxiety and complexity.

Related topics:  Blogs,  Mortgages
Cat Armstrong | Dynamo for Intermediaries
1st August 2022
Cat Armstrong Dynamo
"Each and every transaction has their own quirks and this is driven by a multifaced process which contains many moving parts."

Each and every transaction has their own quirks and this is driven by a multifaced process which contains many moving parts. Parts which include their own set of influencing factors. Then there’s the emotion of the vendors/buyers to take into account, plus the heavy financial burden and, importantly, a lack of knowledge around the purchase process.

This represents a heady mix and includes a melting pot of documentation and information which can’t help but to generate some degree of friction if even one of the many links in this chain fails, however small or fleeting this failing may be. As we all know, advisers sit at the heart of this emotive journey. Of course, the bulk of this work takes place very early in the process but good advisers also maintain a duty of care to their clients in terms of helping them to overcome any bumps in the road if and when they appear, all the way through to completion.

So, when you see the statistic – 34% of home buying purchases fell through in the last 12 months – then it’s not difficult to see why advisers can appear a little disheartened at times and downright disillusioned with this process on occasion.

The data emerged in research from Smoove which also outlined that the length of time to buy is creeping up. Within the last six months, the average time to complete was 153 days, the equivalent of more than five months. Compared to 2019, this number was 124 days – an increase of 23%. The increase is most likely a result of the post-lockdown boom, as changing consumer lifestyles and demand outweighed supply, combined with greater capacity constraints for solicitors, and local authority searches taking longer to complete due to backlogs.

Following such an experience, one in two homeowners (55%) are unlikely to move again within the next five years, signalling the fact that the whole process is putting homebuyers off from moving, potentially staying in homes that may be unsuitable in later life; as those unlikely to move again was highest among over 55-year-olds. When asked what they would do differently next time they moved home, more than two-fifths (45%) said they would save more money and almost a fifth (19%) would choose a different soliciting firm or estate agent (19%).

This research paints a very interesting picture and demonstrates how frustrating and antiquated some elements of the homebuying experience are. And this is not just for buyers and sellers but also for advisers who consistently invest time and energy into their clients.

Political and economic uncertainty, rising interest rates and escalating living costs are factors which continue to weigh heavily on affordability and confidence levels, especially for first-time buyers. Meaning that the value attached to the advice process has never been higher. But with this comes great responsibility and this responsibility, alongside heavy workloads and a stressful working environment is sadly having a detrimental effect on the mental health of some advisers.

As highlighted in the research, creating more certainty around property transactions is essential in helping to combat some of the aforementioned issues and the entire process requires significant digitisation and automation to modernise the industry and transform the home moving experience. We are moving in the right direction but more needs to be done to help reduce these worrying statistics and trends.

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