Welcome to the first in a new series of monthly blogs from the Conveyancing Association. This month, Chairman Eddie Goldsmith, looks at what has been an eventful start to 2016.
It has been an incredibly busy and interesting start to the year not just for the Conveyancing Association (CA) but the wider conveyancing market as a whole. It’s been said a number of times but I would have to concur that the role and work of conveyancers in the housing market is perhaps under as much scrutiny as it has ever been.
One of the main reasons for this is of course the somewhat arbitrary 1st April deadline set by the Government after which stamp duty will increase by 3% for those purchasers buying additional properties to their main residence. This has put a significant amount of pressure on conveyancers to meet that deadline for those purchasers, particularly buy-to-let landlords, who do not want to pay the greater stamp duty charges. There has been a lot of talk about the need to use specialist conveyancers, those firms who have the resource and expertise – and again this certainly would include all CA members.
Our response to the stamp duty consultation was delivered to the Treasury at the end of last month and while we had a number of issues with how the process will work in areas like divorcing couples and parents helping their children buy a home, one of our major concerns was around the timescale.
We are not due to get the final rules from the consultation until March 16th when George Osborne provides his Budget, and two weeks later they have to be implemented. One suspects it will be hardly enough time to read the new rules, let alone get the necessary systems and processes in place to execute them. Regardless of what you feel about the increase in stamp duty itself, there really should be more time provided in order to allow conveyancers to get their houses in order. These are not minor changes and will have a significant impact on all stakeholders – a little consideration would not go have gone amiss.
In terms of the CA itself, we have certainly hit the ground running in 2016 and have a large number of workstreams taking shape and coming to fruition throughout the next few months, plus we have also developed as an Association in terms of benefits to members and to ensuring we work with other partners to ensure our goals are achieved.
In January, we publicly launched the second version of our Conveyancing Protocol and we are also working on delivering a range of training courses to members via our Conveyancing Academy.
Part of our raison d’être is to ensure we have a conveyancing process which is fit for purpose and able to get through to exchange and completion without having the unnecessary delays that can often blight the experience for all concerned. We are working with lender partners in particular to make sure we can get standardisation where possible and we’ll be meeting the CML later this month to move this forward.
We are also delighted to welcome our eight new affiliate members who joined the CA last month. All our leaders in their respective fields and we’ll be working closely with them to support their activities and to ensure they have access to our membership.
We are just over a month into the year but it is already shaping up to a very active one for the CA and our members. There is lots to look forward to and a number of challenges to overcome – for those conveyancing firms who are not members but feel they are the right type of organisation to offer something to the CA and benefit from membership, we would urge you to get in contact.