Conveyancing process in England requires substantial overhaul, CILEX says

The conveyancing process for buying and selling homes in England requires a substantial overhaul, CILEX says.

Buying and selling a property in England is “inefficient and ineffective” and the process needs “substantial reform”, says CILEX (the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives).

CILEX says sellers should have to provide “material information” about their properties “at the earliest possible stage” and that the government should consider introducing “an auction-style pack… where potential buyers can view and search title and accompanying documents when viewing the property”.

Responding to the call for evidence by the  Levelling up, Housing and Communities Committee inquiry into buying and selling homes, CILEX says the government should introduce new legislation, rather than allowing for voluntary change across the industry, as this “provides the best opportunity to create improvements to the home buying and selling process”.

The need for a mandate is a long-running debate in the market and CILEX says that the risk of relying on voluntary initiatives is the piecemeal adoption of digitalisation, “resulting in inconsistencies and confusion across the industry, and for consumers”.

A third of CILEX’s 17,500 members work in conveyancing, with at least 20% of all members working in residential property.

CILEX surveyed its members for the response and 53% said the current process is inefficient. Additionally, 81% of those surveyed said the amount of work that goes into buying or selling a house had increased over the past two years.

CILEX says:

“The process of buying and selling homes is one of the most stressful periods of a person’s life, and substantially more could be done to reduce this stress.”

CILEX says that having sellers provide material information early is “crucial”.

It adds:

“This is founded on the notion that the property sector largely agrees that more upfront information is better for the home buying and selling process and that it supports the necessary consumer protection requirements.

“Given that upfront information is not yet required, or policed, it cannot be guaranteed that buyers will benefit from having this information at an early stage of the process.”

Only 26% of members believe that buyers have the right information at the right time during transactions. CILEX states that the government has failed in its pledge in the 2017 Levelling Up white paper to “ensure the critical information buyers need to know is available digitally wherever possible”.

To help with the swift flow of information between parties during a transaction, CILEX says, “a codified system for the digitisation of information” should be introduced across the industry to ensure “harmonisation and cohesion”.

Regulating managing agents in the leasehold process, or changing the process for accessing leasehold information would also improve the process, it recommends, while supporting mandatory qualifications for, and regulation of, estate agents.

CILEX recognises that the suggested changes around sellers needing to provide more information will increase the amount of work estate agents do before a property is marketed and that lawyers would need to be instructed earlier, raising costs.

But CILEX concludes:

“However, these financial negatives borne by the seller, and in some cases passed onto the buyer, are likely to be outweighed by the substantial savings in other elements of the transactions – e.g. the reduction in the number of withdrawals, and also the conveyancing process.

“Ultimately it will also allow the buyer to make more informed choices about properties and to purchase the correct property for them.”

CILEX president Emma Davies commented:

“Aside from material information, our members would also like to see a codified system for the digitisation of information.

“Harmonisation and cohesion across the industry regarding digital changes and adoption is much needed.

“The sector needs to collaborate to ensure clients, conveyancers, lenders, surveyors, property agents and estate agents work as part of this harmonisation and cohesion to improve the process and this needs to be complemented by government mandating this where appropriate.

“A lack of mandatory measures for a digital ID framework or qualified e-signatures in the home buying and selling process has been a major barrier to its adoption across the industry.

“This is therefore an example and aspect of the home buying and selling process where digitisation would make a difference but has not been driven through mandatory measures.”


Kindly shared by Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX)