Predicted conveyancing trends for 2022
Conveyancing expert, Lloyd Davies, shares his predictions the industry in 2022
The Conveyancing Association’s former operations director, Lloyd Davies (pictured), has predicted property prices will continue to climb in the new year, while companies will do more to protect staff from burnout as the pandemic continues.
Davies, now managing director and founder of specialist residential conveyancers Convey Law, said that during the pandemic, the industry had suffered its most difficult time since the Second World War, with “five quarterly Christmas and SDLT deadlines, a massive backlog of work as well as the disruption to office working”.
Davies predicted that while 2022 may be “steadier”, the pandemic would “continue to have an impact… perhaps for several years to come”.
He commented: “Transaction volumes are still high, although the number of properties on the market is a concern. Demand will continue to outstrip supply as stock is low and so house prices will continue to increase next year – at an average of 8 – 9 per cent”. He also said transaction attrition rates will decrease “as purchasers will need to follow through due to the lack of properties to choose from”.
Davies added he believed “Volumes will remain high… at well over a million residential property transactions, following on from the record residential sales year in 2021, forecast to be the busiest year since 2007, and just over a million sales in 2020 and close to that in 2019.
“The migration away from the cities will continue with city spaces being filled readily by eager youngsters and first time buyers. Prices in rural and coastal areas will rise well above those in the cities as home working and the choice of locality is now a reality for so many."
Following complaints from conveyancers they were being treated unfairly by some fellow professionals, Convey Law’s charity arm, The Conveyancing Foundation, introduced the ‘Be Kind We Care’ campaign to encourage professionals to be kinder to each other. Davies said he believed businesses had learnt prioritising staff welfare was vital.
“One thing we have all hopefully learned from the last 18 months is to accurately measure and ensure that our Conveyancers are not overloaded with work; that they take regular time away from the office on holidays to avoid burnout; that they don’t overwork from home and that they look after themselves and each other”.
He explained Convey Law had adopted a hybrid working model, with conveyancers “choosing what works for them so long as service standards and targets are met effectively”. Davies said: “Choice and trust have become the norm for most legal practices with their staff and this can only be a good thing for both the businesses and the people involved in our industry.”
Davies forecast “an increase in staff training and recruitment in the conveyancing sector” in 2022, with government funded apprenticeship courses and new pathways for professionals within the industry meaning numbers of newly qualified licensed conveyancers and solicitors would increase. He said: “Novices can now be trained to full conveyancing fee earners within 12 months with their wages increasing from £18k to £30k in that time period.”
Davies is also managing director of Convey365, which is set to launch an IT case management system in 2022. He said he anticipated conveyancing timescales and processes would also improve cross-industry, with government help and reform.
He said: “I hope that we will see some changes to conveyancing protocol and the Government intervening to kick start the changes needed to change the way that we convey to make it quicker and more effective for all concerned.
“I would like to see Legal Contract Packs, approved by the seller’s Conveyancer, prepared at the point of marketing or within three weeks of the property being placed on the market. This will speed up the time to exchange from offer by 3 - 4 weeks and is a no brainer. We need to look at conveyancing digital protocols and implement them – greater input from our regulators will be required in this respect”.
He added: “A word of warning on the conveyancing changes required. To facilitate change, the changes should be non-evasive where possible and gradual in terms of processes. An example is changing the process of ordering searches at the start of a transaction by the seller. Asking sellers to pay for the cost of property searches as well as a Legal Sellers Pack could amount to £500 – £600 extra per transaction and could curtail properties coming onto the market in the first instance – not a good thing at the moment.
“We need one protocol across the industry, not varying ones for each regulator, and we need to be mindful of the impact of change on the businesses of professionals in the industry. Completely changing processes and procedures takes time and is disruptive – and we could all do with a break from the disruption of the last 18 months!”
Commenting on electronic signatures, he said he expected “the electronic signature of deeds come to fruition next year as well as systems and defined procedures to enhance client identity measures, curtail cyber fraud and money laundering”.
He added: “The events of 2021 and the Simplify group with their IT systems being the target of a cyber-attack sent shockwaves across the industry and we are yet to see the full impact of the slowdown of instructions to the conveyancing giant, which was undertaking thousands of transactions every month.
“It is an exciting time for our industry and we need to grasp the nettle and work collectively to implement the changes required to make conveyancing faster and safer for all concerned. I am looking forward to something resembling ‘normal’ and pre 2020 for next year, although based on November volumes of work it looks like the seasonal dip in completions in March and April will not materialise next year and we are in for a busy time.”