Conveyancing vacancies exceed 900

Since the re-opening of the property market in May, no-one could have predicted the way the housing market exploded, with demand rising at an exponential pace.

Pent-up demand and the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday were said to be the main contributing factors as all areas of the housing transaction pipeline came under strain as people wanted to progress transactions and start new ones.

Today’s Conveyancer has been observing and monitoring the number of recruitment adverts that included the term ‘conveyancer’ had been placed on the Indeed website – from the end of July to 28 September the number of job roles advertised has seen over a 100% increase (802 vacancies).

On 7 October, vacancies exceeded the 900 mark, a 130% increase since we first started monitoring the situation in July.

Naturally, those in the profession have felt the heat, as workloads have exploded. Some firms and stakeholder organisations, are still in the position where staff are furloughed, so managing the workload and client expectations has become tricky.

Throw the extra complexities of logjams in the mortgage, conveyancing and removal stages of housing and an already stressful period becomes 10 times more stressful. For example, searches are taking longer due to local authority staff being furloughed, and this adds more pressure to conveyancers and their teams who have to manage client expectations

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Director of Property Data, said:

“We’re hearing of challenges at all steps of the buying and selling process, including lenders having to deal with a high number of mortgage applications and solicitors over their capacity.

“The temporary stamp duty holiday means there’s more urgency than usual for the congestion to be cleared by the end of March, making it vital for buyers and sellers to work closely with their agent and to make sure they’re moving fast to complete a document or answer questions.”

I’m currently in the midst of a property transaction, and was hopeful of having a completion date at the end of this last month.

I’m aware of some of the challenges in the sector at the moment, time is a huge pressure, and in my case the local searches are the hold up. But the frustration for me and many clients is the lack of communication.

I’ve spoken to other people who are in a similar position to me, and they’ve seen similar logjams, with regards to the turnaround of their mortgage and survey applications. The frustrations grow from the breakdown in communication, as there aren’t enough people in the positions due to the Covid-19 secure restrictions, to help clear the backlog and as such are creating further jams.

These issues are out of the conveyancer’s control, but the public perception is often that the buck stops with them. Conveyancing departments are the first and last port of call for clients and estate agents who are eager to get their transactions over the line.

Communication is key, and I believe that all of the different stakeholders involved in a property transaction need to work together to get through this tough period. This may mean that some frank and honest discussions need to take place, between stakeholders, but it helps to ensure that everyone is kept in the loop during this unprecedented time.

Have you experienced any friction from clients who are frustrated with the current property climate?

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