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A year-long pilot by award winning residential conveyancing experts Thomas Legal and specialist search provider Conveyancing Data Services, a part of tmgroup, shows transaction times reduced by 40%.
The pilot in England, completed with several offices from a leading, global, independent estate agency, included high-end property sales and saw up to two months shaved off conveyancing times. The time taken from agreed Heads of Terms to Exchange of Contracts was reduced from the national average of 133 days to 80 days.
The results support similar findings north of the border, where the Scottish Home Report has already seen average property transactions now take four weeks less than in England and Wales, and fall-throughs reduce by 60%.
40% of property transaction delays avoidable
CDS is a Conveyancing Search Provider which specialises in digitising the forms and searches required for a property transaction. It is part of tmgroup whose own comprehensive research conducted in December 2022, revealed the industry puts the blame for 40% of property transaction delays squarely on the time taken to manage enquiries, duplication of information or confusing communication.
Richard Pickles is tmgroup’s Sales Director (Residential) and has been working with Thomas Legal on the pilot from the outset. He said: “By providing information more transparently, earlier in the conveyancing process, and in a format acceptable to both sides, the pilot proves that early collaboration between sellers, lawyers and other key stakeholders such as search providers could bring about the change bodies like the Home Buying and Selling Group have been urgently calling for. I am not at all surprised by the results.”
CDS pulls together data from a range of reliable sources including Land Registry and Local Authorities. Once complete, this information can be exchanged with all authorised stakeholders to get the seller’s legal preparations underway while a buyer is being secured.
Simon David is CEO of Thomas Legal. He commented:
“Obtaining search information at the point the property comes on the market already puts us up to four weeks ahead of the game. Critically, when a buyer is found, that search information can be supplied by CDS and can then form part of the Contract pack sent to the Buyer’s Solicitors. This helped us overcome a huge potential stumbling block. Another potential issue, that of Local Authority searches expiring after 6 months and potentially before exchange, has also been avoided
by CDS agreeing to refresh search details after 6 months at often little and sometimes zero additional cost.. That was another huge tick.“
The pilot was a natural step for Thomas Legal which has always been an early adopter of technology that supports improved customer satisfaction and industry best practice.
Simon David says choosing the right estate agency business to pilot with on this project was crucial:
“We were pleased to partner with a quality firm, very much in the market we operate in. Like us, they were getting increasingly frustrated that the transaction time between Heads of Terms and Exchange of Contracts was getting longer and longer, so we sat down and agreed we had to do something about it. Lots of lawyers are tinkering around the edges, dabbling with tech but as this pilot proves, if you do it right, it is possible to shave off weeks and even months from the average conveyancing transaction time.”
More time was saved at customer onboarding stage, with shared electronic ID/KYC verification between the agent and Thomas Legal with checks completed up to 80% faster than via traditional means.
“Important in current market”
John is a seller who took part in the pilot. He commented:
“Providing the information helped us set our stall out very clearly that we were all ‘on it’ and focused on getting the job done. This, combined with the (agent’s) incredibly pro-active approach ensured that we were always on the front foot – which in the current market is so very important.”
Due to the success of the pilot this project has now been expanded with around 16 offices now involved across the South of England.
A proven solution
Summing up, Simon David said:
“The early onboarding of clients as well as the collation of all necessary property forms and obtaining search results before an offer is made on a property using tech is absolutely key. For the last two years especially, local authorities have struggled to deal with search requests and law firms have had too much work on their plates which has exacerbated the problem and has proved that the traditional way of doing things is no longer acceptable. The current average property transaction time is quite honestly a disgrace and must be overhauled. Here is a proven solution.”