Conveyancing – Why is it all so slow? How streamlined can it get?

21 September 2023

CapacityConsumerConveyancingMeeting of MindsMortgagemortgageSupply

Expert: Andrew Lloyd, Chief Customer Officer PEXA Facilitator: Kevin Mountford, Co-founder, Raisin UK


  1. A house purchase is the second most stressful thing behind divorce and 9/10 said the house buying process is very stressful
  2. Recent research claims that:
  • 81% consumers said they faced some sort of challenge.
  • 30% transactions fell through
  • 60% consumers faced unexpected costs
  • 40% faced lengthy delay
  • On average a house purchase is now taking 153 days compared to 124 pre covid
  1. The range of problems facing the consumer are:
  • Supply vs demand
  • Capacity / training issues
  • Changing consumer behaviour
  • Operational issues
  • Lack of transparency / communication 
  1. Pexa is an ‘exchange platform’ with the aim was to disrupt and in turn help to improve the UK market 

Discussion points:

The experiences around re-mortgages should be no different than changing insurers, current accounts, credit card balances, etc

Delegates were not surprised by the general findings although the 30% fall through is higher than expected.

Overall, there was a recognition and willingness to address the problem, particularly where the broker ends up being the person in the middle of all of this. It was also noted that in 2023 there is still a heavy reliance on the use of paper, fax communication, etc at a time when everything should be highly digitised.

Reference was also made to the levels of duplication such as numerous AML/KYC checks being made - why can’t various organisations within the chain have a ‘reliance’ on others?

The discussion then focused on industry SLAs and whilst this was a fair point it was again noted that it would be the application of such that would need to be sorted e.g. 10 items were requested and 9 provided within the SLA but then when the 10th item was supplied the clock starts ticking again.

There is a need for better education - initially to ensure that the broker really knows what is going on and who is doing what within the chain but also a need to better inform the customer. General research highlights the fact that the average consumer knows little about FS so this would be a real challenge within the more complex mortgage sector.

Being armed with a better understand might also help to manage all-round expectations. Also noting cost vs service - could paying an extra £1k for a conveyancer cut down timescales and even reduce others costs further down the line?

It was recognised that ‘home information packs’ had been a step in the right direction but are still not perfect, plus we are in a world of non-binding offers which continues to create uncertainty.

Andrew referenced how in the Australian market the process is even more broken than the UK hence the reason that Pexa was formed. The business was already making an impact when in 2014 a government mandate pushed through the likes of automation. However, it was also noted that with changing consumer behaviour there remains a need for specialisation such as ‘shared ownership’.

As an example, Skipton BS established a network that understood this market and were able to support accordingly - which worked until the consumer decides that they want to use their own conveyancing company.

It was therefore felt that brokers need to be more forceful in stating that customers had to use their conveyancing panel, particularly where they had completed DD to determine cost, service levels, professional reputation, etc.

Key takeaways:

  • Improvements are needed and can be made, which includes the likes of a standard, agreed process for the ‘source of wealth’, CDD, AML/KYC
  • There is little confidence that anything will really improve anytime soon, unless there is formal government involvement
  • We shall wait to see if the average of 153 days will improve by the next event