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19 Apr, 2024/ by Homeward Legal /Buyer, News, Remortgage, Sale & Purchase, Seller

It's the beginning of a new year, full of promise and potential. 

And it's a common time for people to look to the future and try to understand what will and must change - ideally for the better, of course, rather than changing for the sake of change itself.

One area that needs significant upgrades and overhaul is the conveyancing process. While it has been changing in a piecemeal sort of way, it certainly hasn't been rapid, and many of the current processes haven't changed significantly in decades.

This is one of the frustrating things for many housebuyers and -sellers (and not forgetting remortgagers who need to avail themselves of conveyancing services): in an age of instant responses and next-day deliveries, how can the conveyancing process conceivably take weeks to complete?

There's a complex answer that responds to what is not a simplistic question, partly because the question hasn't been adequately defined.

Back in 2020, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers published a forward-looking discussion paper that considers the issues with looking forward ten years at where conveyancing is likely to be. Those questions, now four years down the line, are as valid now as they were then, especially with some of the changes that have been implemented.

Automation and electronic wizardry

The pace of change across several industries has never been so rapid - and it doesn't show any signs of abating or slowing any time soon.

We have become used to firing up our computers and handheld devices, searching for instantaneous answers and completion of tasks that would have previously taken days or weeks to research and bring to a conclusion.

Shopping trips and the background effort in finding a consumable or service that once would have taken a good deal of time to complete can be sorted out in hours if not minutes. And the result can be delivered in very short timescales, perhaps the same day (or even in a few seconds if it can be dealt with by, say, email).

Contrast and compare that vision with the world of conveyancing.

Certainly, efforts have been made to digitalise and drag some processes into the speedy computer world, but it still takes weeks from the point of appointing your conveyancing solicitor to receiving the keys to your new property.

The problem comes with the complexity of the legal process, hampered further by the sheer number of organisations involved along the way to buying, selling or remortgaging a new home - the solicitor firms (especially with a chain), HM Land Registry, the local authority, Historic England, utilities providers, mortgage lenders… The list is almost endless.

It's all well and good for a conveyancing firm to have state-of-the-art systems to manage your transaction - and that's certainly very important and worth checking when appointing legal help - but the weakness in the speed in the chain of transaction management will always be the slowest organisation involved.

The good news is that this is being addressed. There is a fair way to go yet but, as each link in this chain automates and speeds up, it can only mean a good result for speeding up your sale, purchase or remortgage.


There have been attempts at corralling the data on property over the years with HIPs and various versions of logbooks tried, tested and temporarily shelved.

The idea is to collate all the information about a home, its position, the utilities, planning permissions, the building grants and so on, so that it is ready for the transaction at the time of sale, purchase or remortgage, shaving off days or even weeks from the duration of the transaction.

As each organisation automates their processes and complex data management is fully computerised, the transfer of the information should be instantaneous and therefore speeding up the decision-making much earlier, too.

The fragmentation of the processes and the information along the property transaction will be far more consolidated and less prone to error - and therefore less involvement in needing to check the veracity of the information provided.

As an aside, in addition, the development of the use of virtual reality by estate agents will allow the potential buyer to have a first view very quickly without having to organise a conducted tour, particularly if the prospective buyer and seller are in distant parts of the country (or world). This information can also form part of the built database formed regarding the property.

Customer protection

There is one thorny issue that needs to be addressed before we go thundering headlong down the road to complete automation - the protection of the customer.

We are increasingly aware of stories of the hacking by cyber-criminals of little companies to big corporations, the end goal of which is to extort money either from the organisations themselves or from the individuals through identity theft.

By opening up the channels to automation between the various companies and organisations in the end-to-end conveyancing process potentially creates weak spots that can be exploited. 

Hand in hand with this race to automation and speed of the process must be the importance of looking after the customer, their data, and protecting them to the highest standards possible.

Security and stage verification

The need to protect the customer and each company's assets (finances, databases, information, etc.) means significant investment in system and process security is necessary, verifying each stage to confirm that all is well and that all players are who they say they are, while ensuring there are no loopholes to be exploited.

The hackers are keeping up with the developments in this area, but security is being strengthened all the time with processes like two- or even three-stage verification. Some of this may seem unnecessarily heavy-handed but, with the sums of money involved in purchasing and selling a house, it becomes even more critical to reinforce the security to protect the individuals and the companies involved.


There is no point for each conveyancing firm to strike out on their own - other than to invest in the very latest technology and security that's available. Doing things in isolation will compound the problem of fragmentation and this will erupt at the point further down the road when companies try to talk to each other automatically.

To this end, it is important to keep a set of standards for each group - the legal fraternity, mortgage lenders, local authorities - to follow to ease the passage in the future to more seamless automation.

The changing role of the conveyancer

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers' paper on the future suggests that, as many of these processes are implemented, streamlined, devolved or automated, the role of the conveyancer will change significantly, particularly where the current job looks into research (i.e. the searches and requesting information from each organisation to build a picture of a property), this will move into an advisory capacity. And that means changing its focus to the clear legal points.

What does this mean now?

Of course, this will all take time, effort and investment to resolve. It also needs all of the various parties to be lined up and keen to get to the end covered in glory.

But trying to get a groundswell of change happening on notoriously slow departments will also require strong leadership, drive and enthusiasm for the task.

Changing the view of so many people across a reasonably diverse set of organisations is exceptionally hard to tackle - but this should not be a reason for inertia and stagnation.

The signs are good - HM Land Registry, local authorities, the legal profession and the financial sector are all looking into ways of streamlining their processes, which can only be a good outcome for their financial results at the end of it.

But it will take time to line everything up and ensure the necessary protections for the individual moving home or remortgaging as well as the variety of firms involved are in place.

Watch this space - the feeling is that there will be significant change coming that will benefit the customer. And it'll be coming quickly!

Are you concerned about how much time buying, selling or remortgaging a home is taking? Do you want the most efficient, focused solicitor to work with you, who has the latest technology to assist them?

That's where Homeward Legal can really help with affordable but quality conveyancing services! They will start work on your planned purchase and/or sale as soon as you agree to the quotation and appoint them to represent you, and will work hard to complete the process in as short a time as possible. 

Homeward Legal will also provide a quote that will not change - what you are quoted is what you pay for standard conveyancing process.

There are some unforeseen items that might arise during the purchase and/or sale, but the solicitor discusses these and their cost as they come up. 

In addition, to protect the homebuyer further, Homeward Legal operates a ‘no completion, no fee' promise, which ensures that, should the purchase or sale not go through as planned to completion status, no payment is required.

Call  to get your conveyancing quote started, or to discuss your concerns with your plans to move.

Or you can get a quick quote, using Homeward Legal's easy-to-use quote generator.

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