At the start of National Conveyancing Week, Sarah Cowley, head of Coodes’ residential property team explains why it’s high time perceptions of the profession need to change…
I’ve been working as a conveyancer for more years than I care to remember, and it would be fair to say that the sector has not always had the best reputation. But now it’s time to start changing perceptions and raise the profile of the home moving industry for good.
The inaugural National Conveyancing Week is a fantastic opportunity to do just that – to inform, educate, assist, motivate, and reassure – to improve the profile of conveyancers and conveyancing. These are just some of the reasons that Coodes is proud to be supporting this valuable initiative.
Let’s start with the basics – what is conveyancing and why does it matter? Quite simply, it’s the legal process involved in transferring property ownership titles from one person to another.
Whether you’re buying or selling a property or land, it’s highly likely that you will need to instruct a conveyancer to act on your behalf. A conveyancer will deal with all the aspects of the legal and administrative work involved in this complex and time-consuming process.
So, what do we hope to achieve by nailing our colours to the mast when it comes to National Conveyancing Week?
Well, we want to help people by providing a better understanding of what we do, we want to improve collaboration between professionals working in the property market, we’re calling for better information upfront to make the whole process much smoother and we want to make conveyancing a more attractive career proposition for young people.
A better understanding
Over the years, the process of conveyancing has changed beyond all recognition. When I first started, we used to spin about ten plates during a property transaction all at the same time, now it’s more like thirty – and we can’t drop any of them either!
The requirements on a conveyancing professional have increased threefold and while we’re certainly not trying to illicit any sympathy, we are keen to show that conveyancing is not always as simple or straightforward as you might think. We want to demonstrate the true value (and not just in monetary terms!) of a good conveyancer and explain what they do.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as, “I’ve got my mortgage offer, can I proceed?” – there are many boxes to tick along the way, protective high-level checks for fraud and anti-money laundering to undertake and lots of detailed requirements, instructions, searches and enquiries, referencing and evidencing of the lenders’ handbook to boot. There is never a standard conveyancing transaction!
Frustrations and delays
Delays often lead to frustrations, but those frustrations can be eased by better explaining why and where those delays may crop up. If you carefully explain the process, people are much more understanding.
The results of a search or something a planning document reveals can throw a spanner in the works and lead to an unforeseen delay, further enquiries need to be made and that’s where it sometimes slows down.
While delays are sometimes beyond our control, they are frustrating for everyone involved, not only for the buyers and sellers, but for conveyancers as well.
It’s important to remember that conveyancers are on your side. It might sound cliched but we’re here to assist – there is nothing we enjoy more than seeing happy homeowners signing on the dotted line and getting their keys to their dream property. That makes everything worthwhile. Ask any conveyancer and they will tell you that’s the best bit about their job.
I joke that conveyancing is like having a baby – the often-painful process is often quickly forgotten once the new homeowner has the keys in their hand and suddenly the conveyancer is their new best friend.
Collaboration is key in conveyancing – it’s usually a whole group of professionals pulling together to get a property transaction across the line.
One of the most important objectives of National Conveyancing Week is improving that collaborative process – getting lawyers, estate agents, lenders, surveyors, the Land Registry, and local authorities working more effectively and efficiently for the benefit of everyone involved.
I believe that Conveyancing is done better when there is local expert knowledge and expertise involved. By working together, the knock-on effects are monumental, and it speeds everything up for both the buyer and the seller.
Smoothing the process
With information readily available up front, it can only serve to speed up the time-consuming elements of the transactions. It gives everyone the heads up and they will know what to expect, what’s coming down the line during a property transaction. It can only serve to make the whole process much smoother and less stressful for the clients.
Land Registry documents are increasingly becoming digitalised and that’s certainly helping, but good old-fashioned communication is just as important. We’re all in this together and by agreeing and adhering to protocols between local solicitors, will only help to be more consistent in our approach.
An attractive career
Make no mistake, conveyancing is a highly-skilled profession – it takes years of training and personal development to become a good conveyancer and the role they play, as a professionally qualified practitioner in this area of law, should not be underplayed.
Why have good conveyancers left the industry in recent years? Because it’s a highly pressurised job. However, initiatives such as National Conveyancing Week are a force for good in the recruitment and retention of the future stars of the industry. It will help to recruit new entrants to the market.
We want to see more young people getting on the ladder, and I don’t mean property ladder. There is a lot to be said for supporting, training, educating, and nurturing young professionals who want to further their careers in the world of conveyancing. Encouraging talented individuals to qualify is crucial to the future success of this industry.
We need to do more to showcase the benefits of conveyancing as a career choice – it’s not just a job. If you like working with people, then this is the career for you.
So, there you have it, that’s my starter for ten on why conveyancing is a profession to be proud of and that’s why we’re getting behind National Conveyancing Week in 2023.