Supporting the Conveyancing Industry – by Tony Rollason

While at the start of the year, Brexit was considered as one of our main concerns or risks to the property market, everything has changed so quickly and clearly there are now far greater concerns challenging us all. With the Coronavirus outbreak taking hold, the nation is facing unprecedented times and, of course, the UK’s property market is facing uncertain times as a result.

Whilst movement in the market has inevitably and significantly reduced, there are still cases where transactions are possible. Many mortgage lenders have provided a three month delay option, for those buyers who had already received an offer and had exchanged. The government has also said that where buyers and sellers have moved to exchange of contracts, the option to postpone completion rather than pull out of a transaction is being actively encouraged.

In addition, where a property is in a vacant position, such as a new build, or no move is technically involved and the transaction is more of an investment, it has also been said that the completion may go ahead, on the basis that any removals that occur are carried out in accordance with social distancing rules.

In times like this, firms that are continuing to operate are remaining agile and are open to alternative approaches to continue making progress. Examples include aligning themselves with developers, auction houses and the investor community. It’s also a great time to be doing commercial due-diligence on land and property portfolio’s; re-assessing environmental risks, ownership, surrounding planning applications and anything else that may impact value.

Of course, for people wanting to move house, being able to physically view properties isn’t a consideration, so we are seeing more agents offer ‘virtual viewings’ using technology. Physical surveys aren’t possible and so the use of automated valuations are also a consideration, when it is deemed appropriate by the lender.

We’ve also seen conveyancing search companies offer a continuity service that enables property lawyers with the ability to access data-driven search data, which also comes with environmental reports, mining search data and chancel report policy. This provides a workable alternative solution to a traditional search pack, and means that residential surveyors can access the local authority and search data needed, to keep transactions moving in the right direction.

In recognising the issue facing property transactions, at Landmark, we are reminding conveyancing professionals that a free re-order service is available for our all-in-one environmental report, RiskView Residential.

The free RVR re-order service aims to provide complete peace of mind to home movers and property professionals, by enabling a report to be re-ordered any time up to 12-months from the original order date. So, in these times of uncertainty, the very latest due diligence can be re-assessed prior to completion, once lockdown is lifted, and takes in to account any recent environmental changes that may have occurred that the buyer will want to know.

By offering property lawyers and conveyancers the opportunity to re-order environmental due diligence reports for free, home buyers can take comfort in that fact that the very latest search data is being assessed. It also means they will be in the most informed position possible, ahead of what will be one of the greatest investments they are ever likely to make.

We are all confronted with facing the most extraordinary times and so, our aim is to help support the UK’s residential conveyancing industry through this wherever possible. We are here to help in any way we can and I send my personal best wishes to you and your families at this uncertain time.

Tony Rollason is a Regional Manager of Landmark Information, which is the UK’s leading provider of land and property search information, including digital mapping and environmental risk reports for property professionals.