Conveyancing Firms, Death by Stealth?

This a guest blog and the views expressed in it are those of the author not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

Over the course of the last week I have received emails from conveyancing firms who have had varying issues with a number of lenders, including, the Yorkshire Building Society, the Principality, Nottingham Building Society, Santander, HSBC and Lloyds. I am pleased to say that in most (but not all) cases those issues have been resolved satisfactorily.

Whilst it seems unlikely that other lenders will take the drastic action that HSBC took early last year, what worries me is the slow but steady reduction of the numbers of firms on some lender panels. What concerns me most, for lots of firms, is the possible ‘death by stealth’ that could be going on at the moment.
Lenders have different panel requirements, and different appeal processes (if they have one at all). None that I know of will divulge the reason for panel removal or panel membership refusal. That seems unfair. To say conveyancing practices are confused would be an understatement.

There is a groundswell of unrest that is building slowly, with the Prime Minister recently acknowledging that the reduction of panel firms should be looked into and a group of lawyers recently making contact with the OFT. The Bold Legal Group, whilst not actively involved at the moment, will monitor these developments closely.

The legal profession rarely unites. In most cases firms say “we are all right, let’s pull up the drawbridge.” Only to find later that they have problems but no support from other quarters. Now is the time to unite.

As if to reinforce my feelings this email arrived (from a firm with over ten partners/directors) whilst I was writing this article:
“Did you know that Accord had a separate panel for buy to let mortgages? We have just lost a client who had instructed us on a purchase and two remortgages. They have their standard resi panel, which we are on, and then the separate panel for BTL which we are not on. They say there are only two firms on the BTL panel, and no chance of access to this.”
What I would welcome and already have with a few lenders, is an open and honest discussion about this issue before the legal profession and lenders end up at loggerheads once more.
You can find out more about the Bold Legal Group by contacting me (Rob Hailstone) on [email protected]
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