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Conveyancing Association provide Strategic Plan update at ‘21st Century Conveyancing’ Annual Conference

The Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry, has used its Annual Conference to provide an update on its Strategic Plan work streams and offer a series of views on what the future might hold for the conveyancing market in the years ahead.

The Conference, which had the theme ‘21st Century Conveyancing, was held on the 7th December at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea and brought together over 200 industry stakeholders to discuss the work of the CA throughout 2017, its plans for 2018 and the future landscape for the sector specifically how technology is being used to change the conveyancing process and how member firms should react to that change.

The CA provided attendees with an update on its ongoing work, including details of key achievements such as its member firms completing the first e-signed exchange of contracts and the first purchase completed under its Code of Completion. It also highlighted the significant progress that has been made in terms of securing leasehold reform, the greater provision of upfront information via a D-Home Report, the introduction of reservation agreements, and the pursuit of binding mortgage decision-in-principles prior to a client making an offer on a property.

In a series of presentations, the future of conveyancing was discussed with sessions from the Land Registry’s John Abbott, Property Exchange Australia’s (PEXA) Ian Hendey, Convey Law’s Lloyd Davies, Professor Stuart Brymer OBE, and Scott Bozinis from Conference Sponsor’s InfoTrack, all highlighting the technological progress that is already being made and how conveyancing firms will need to react in order to survive and thrive.

Prior to the 17th December  closure of the ‘Call for Evidence’ on ‘Improving the home buying and selling process’, Matt Prior from the DCLG provided an update on the responses  received so far and a view on the Government’s initial thinking in a number of key areas. Specifically, Prior talked about wanting to improve the consumer’s understanding of what a good conveyancer looks like, how they should make an informed choice and whether the conveyancing experience might be improved and made faster by both parties using the same firm.

Prior outlined the next steps post-‘Call for Evidence’ where responses would be read, digested and discussed with Government ministers before a series of measures would be outlined and the industry asked to respond on those.

The CA urged all those present to ensure they responded to the ‘Call for Evidence’ by the 17th December in order that the DCLG might have a full picture of the process and a variety of solutions might be suggested in order to make it fit for purpose.

Eddie Goldsmith, Chairman of the Conveyancing Association, commented:

“This year’s Conference was themed around the future of conveyancing, whether that is the immediate future or far further ahead, specifically 2030 by which time the Land Registry plan to have full comprehensive registration of all property. It was particularly interesting to hear from HMLR specifically around its three proof of concept projects which are at a very early stage but cover a Property Adviser tool which would detail all property information, the quest for an Instant Mortgage and instant decisions on lending, and a Transaction proposition which would facilitate the exchange and transfer of funds, and be recorded on a blockchain.

“This type of work has potentially serious consequences for the conveyancing market and our firms, and if it works as envisaged it will fundamentally change our sector, specifically the administrative side of our work. It’s therefore highly important that we prepare our membership now for what the future might hold, and indeed what is also happening right now in terms of PropTech propositions and what they are seeking to do.

“In that sense, hearing from PEXA on how digital conveyancing has revolutionised the market in Australia was a real eye-opener because, while we are some way behind what has happened there, the comparisons are very real and it looks likely we will move to a similar proposition in the future. It clearly took a lot of time, effort and resource to get PEXA up and running but the benefits in terms of speed, transparency, and service, are there to see.

“Our very own ‘Call for Evidence’ is likely to prove a pivotal moment for our sector in terms of what happens next for the conveyancing process and our member firms, so it was important to hear from the DCLG and to press home the point that all stakeholders need to get their responses in before the 17th December in order to have their voices heard and ideas recognised. The CA will be issuing our response, and we are urging all members to do the same.

“Overall, the Conference presented the future of conveyancing to attendees and it was obvious that we need to be on board with this new tech future, otherwise we will be left behind. 2018 will be a very important year in terms of continuing our Strategic Plan work and delivering on our ambitions in a number of areas, but we also have to be conscious of looking further ahead because there are some fundamental changes on the horizon that will have big consequences for us.

“Finally, I am also very pleased to say that our Annual Dinner, sponsored by Searchflow, raised close to £3,000 for our chosen charity, Prostate Cancer UK. Thanks to all that attended both the Conference & Dinner and made donations to a very worthwhile cause.”

The CA’s Strategic Plan, ‘Building the framework for the future’, can be viewed here.

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