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Richard's April Reflections

24 Apr 2018   |   Sophie Roberts   |   0 Comments

In a complete break from tradition I think I’ll actually waffle on about something relevant to council TATs this month. Sorry about that, but this has been brought on by the government’s response to the call for evidence published last week.

One of the key aims is to reduce council TATs to 10 days across the board and eliminate restrictions for search agent access (we currently face all sorts of obstacles such as booking systems, limitations on the amount of searches you can conduct in one visit etc.). Fantastic we all say and I’m pleased to report that the averages across all the councils are currently well below the government’s target for both Official searches and Personal searches. However about 25% of councils are currently above the proposed target, so there is a lot of work to be done in some areas.

Whilst I’m on this subject I might as well comment on some of the other points raised in the response as well (not all of them, I promise) and must add that this is my personal view and doesn’t necessarily reflect the view of my company and/or my colleagues, so please feel free to shout if you disagree with me at all! :)

I know quite a few Estate Agents (some of which receive this monthly missive) and I don’t think there is a single one of them who would argue against further agent regulation. It might be a bit more hassle, but it also provides a barrier to entry into the market that previously didn’t exist. So that receives a tick in my book.

Referral fee transparency is also something that was clearly telegraphed prior to the publication so is no surprise. However the whole argument over referral fees is still up for debate. Again my view, but aren’t referral fees just a “cost of sale”, in exactly the same way that employing a salesperson is a “cost of sale” or taking a client to a football match is a “cost of sale”? Therefore you should simply just build the fees into your overhead. Where we get into dangerous territory is when the referral fee is paid and the cost you can charge is also mandated. That removes the ability to manage your business. But there is always a choice.

I applaud the intention to educate the consumer better in how to choose a conveyancer, but struggle to see how they will do this. All the focus is on price right now (I hear has launched as a price comparison site) so there is a great deal of work to be done here and I think the challenge has been thrown out to the profession here.

Making better use of technology is a no-brainer in my view and probably something that would happen anyway. Government plan to establish a working group to look at things like digital signatures, ID verification and e-conveyancing. Solutions to most of these already exist, but to speed up their adoption the working group needs to set out standardised protocols etc. then everyone builds variations of the same thing that can all talk to each other.

Likewise the provision of more information up front. I, like many of you, went through HIPs so I tend to agree with the concept. A property passport in the long term (electronic?) probably makes sense and I must admit I have a folder at home that contains all our planning permissions, certificates and searches, so I could be ‘sale ready’ at the drop of a hat.

Also it’s good to see the leasehold issues highlighted. Fingers crossed that fixed time frames and maximum fees are adhered to.

And Decision in Principle certificates from lenders do make sense and make sure people know how much they can afford from the outset. A good thing indeed! Finally the Reservation Agreement might work, but it’s a bit wishy-washy at the moment, lots of work needed here.

Anyway, here are the councils that should be nervously looking over their shoulder to avoid the Whitehall/Westminster spotlight:

OLAS (Official) TAT PLAS (Personal) TAT
North Wiltshire District Council 42 Havant Borough Council 26
Copeland Borough Council 23 West Dorset District Council 26
Hackney London Borough Council 22 Neath Porth Talbot County Borough Council 25
Bridgend County Borough Council (Residential) 21 Harrogate Borough Council 22
Pembrokeshire County Council 21 Broxtowe Borough Council 21
Eastleigh Borough Council 20 Torbay Borough Council 21
Lewes District Council 20 Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council 20
Stockport Borough Council 20 Craven District Council 20
Derby City Council/Res 19 East Cambridgeshire District Council 20
North Tyneside Borough Council/Res 19 Mendip District Council 20
West Wiltshire DC 19 Boston Borough Council 19
Blaby District Council/Res 18 Hackney London Borough Council 19
Dudley Met Borough Council 18 Harlow District Council 19
Greenwich London Borough Council 18 Hartlepool Borough Council 19
High Peak Bor Cnc/Res 18 Lewes District Council 19
Rochdale Borough Council 18 North East Derbyshire District Council 19
Stratford-Upon-Avon Dist Ccl/Res 18 Test Valley Borough Council 19
East Staffordshire Bor Cncl/Res 17 Bolsover District Council 18
East Lindsey District Council 16 Portsmouth City Council 18


Overall though the average TATs have reduced again in March and I really hope to be able to report that average turnaround times are now in the 7 working days band in the coming months.


However the sun is out, spring has sprung and that always leads to an organic increase in volume as people actually get out there house hunting. 
You can after all only do so much on Rightmove/Zoopla! Actually that would be an interesting stat. 
I wonder what the % is of people buying houses purely from their online description is?
Even the ‘professional’ landlords I know always insist on a visit (even if it isn’t by themselves).


Have a lovely spring…………………… it’s here.





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