Conveyancing – Are things so much better than they used to be?Make Text Bigger
I bought my first house 35 years ago and since then have bought (and sold) houses in the region of 20 times. In each of these transactions I have had to ‘instruct’ solicitors to do the necessary legal work.
Looking back to the early days, the time frame for selling or purchasing a property usually took a minimum of 2 months to finalise and get to the completion stage. It would seem that not much has changed, or at least not much has changed in the time it takes to get these legal matters sorted.
Yet a lot else has changed.
We now have theses wonderful electronic machines called computers supported by an equally wonderful and ethereal system of communication called the ‘world wide web’. Enabling us to communicate by word with anyone who has another wonderful machine in a matter of seconds. The necessity of letters (snail mail) as a means of communication are now, for the large part, unnecessary. Telephones have been here a long time, but they have their disadvantages as you cannot always get to speak to the person you need to, nor do they support evidential written communication.
It surprises me that alongside this fantastic speeding up of the means of communication the conveyancing process does not seem to have shown much improvement in the time it takes to get things completed. Most of the work the solicitor (lets be honest, his secretary) has to do can be done with the aid of a computer.
So all those letters for the searches, communications with the other legal parties involved, communication with the buyer, the vendor et al, can be done quickly and easily. Typed out and dispatched (and received) in a matter of a few minutes.
Okay, in an ideal world where every party involved gets done what is asked of them promptly and efficiently then yes, it would not be expecting too much for the process to be much more responsive. We all know that government departments are stretched and are never the quickest to respond (unless they want your money) to requests. That people have holidays, are ‘out of the office’, or sick, on a training day etc, etc. All said and done though, with the aid of the wonderful machines is it not unreasonable to expect things to be a lot quicker.
So why am I going on about this now ? Well I am just in the process of selling my Mums flat. She sadly passed away in November and I had to sell her flat. I was advised that as it was a leasehold flat and part owned by a housing association then there would be the additional necessity of work involving the transfer of the lease arrangement to the buyer.
Ok, fair enough. So I was prepared for a lengthier time frame that what I would normally expect. Perhaps another month or so. So I did the necessaries, liaised with the estate agent who already had a buyer for the flat, instructed my solicitor, advised the housing association I was selling etc, Paid them for the transactions involving the lease transfer – did all my bit.
So weeks went by and then I had a phone call from the estate agent involved in selling my Mums flat asking why nothing was happening. After numerous phone calls to my solicitor and the housing association I find out that the housing association would not process the lease because they had not had confirmation of the buyers age! They had been waiting for this confirmation from my solicitor for two weeks.
I phoned my solicitor and told them this and they denied they had received this request, and at any rate the age of the buyer was easy to establish. So who do I believe ? Whatever the reason, be it the housing association not getting the answer to the request, or the solicitor not getting the lease info from the housing association, both parties were quite happy to sit there for weeks expecting something to happen.
Neither of them showed the initiative, or competency, of chasing up on their request to the other party and finding out why they had not got a reply. Yet with the aid of computer everything is recorded and accessible with the pressing of a few buttons.
You can even get your computer to remind you of things ! So yes, we have this wonderful machine that can help you and make things quicker and easier, but at the end of the day it is still has to be used by human beings. It relies on their ability and proficiency to use it to its best advantage.
If those human beings do this, then there should be no reason why things should not be achieved more efficiently and faster than was ever possible.
Well, I feel better for having my tuppence worth. I hope I have not bored you all to death ! I would like to hear from those who have had similar frustrations, agree or disagree, or even say that things are so much better than they used to be.
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