20 August 2021 by Melanie Carroll

Working better together


The residential real estate market has seen phenomenal activity over the last 18 months, with extreme ups and downs and not much in between.  So now, after the end of the race to meet the Stamp Duty holiday deadline, the vaccine programme and ‘Freedom Day’ moving us ever closer to a realistic normality, what have we learnt?  And more importantly, what could we do better as an industry?

These are my personal thoughts as to where the residential real estate sector should look to improve.

It appears to me that there is an overarching need for everyone to work collaboratively.  All stakeholders – agents, solicitors, lenders, as well as clients – if we all work together, we can be more effective.  It should be that simple!

Working collaboratively relies on trust and communication.  We have a strong ethos around keeping clients updated and managing expectations.  If all involved keep the dialogue regular and relevant, then everyone knows ‘where they are’.  This will also go a long way towards reducing unnecessary chasing.  We always aim to be proactive with managing communication and expectations, meaning clients and agents shouldn’t need to request regular updates from us.

Another area where time wasting could be reduced is raising unnecessary enquiries.  As solicitors, we must be thorough and professional but sensible and pragmatic at the same time.   It’s our job to check the legal title, not ascertain what time the sun sets in the rear garden!  We’ve received some silly questions recently, and this doesn’t help anyone.

One time saving tip (and best practice) is that we advise sellers to obtain and prepare comprehensive information ‘up front’, as this goes a long way to reducing the number of enquiries raised and can shorten the process.   If you’re selling, ask your solicitor to prepare your contract pack and then review it for errors and omissions, as they would on a purchase, before sending it off.

Legal tech is a topic I’m not looking to discuss in detail here, but I do believe that using tech where appropriate goes a long way to speeding up the process.

While emailing should be the default communication, if there is an issue to be discussed, we shouldn’t hide behind it.  Many a solution will come out of a quick phone or video call.  We always try to choose the right method of communication for the issue you must resolve.

Outside the legal sector, I’d like to see local authorities speeding up their return times, as this has been frustrating for everyone and resulted in more time-wasting by way of chasing.  I’d also like to see mortgage brokers obtaining updates from agents or clients, rather than via solicitors.

A good agent is worth his or her weight in gold – when cases are almost ready to exchange, I love to see agents taking the lead on agreeing a completion date for the chain.  A lot of time can be spent going backwards and forwards debating dates – it’s not a legal issue and it’s best facilitated by those who can speak to all parties directly – agents!

If you’ve got any suggestions of your own, or you are looking to move home, please contact Melanie Carroll, who leads our Residential Real Estate team.

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