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Ask The Expert - with Ian Quayle

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Ian Quayle the Managing Editor of Property Law UK takes the opportunity to ask an experienced residential conveyancer a series of questions concerning the state of modern residential conveyancing and to share knowledge and experience with readers of Property Law UK.

We are delighted that Richard Carter, Managing Partner, Martin Tolhurst Solicitors is joining us for this month’s ‘Ask the Expert’ segment.

First of all, thank you, Richard, for spending some of your valuable time answering some questions for me, it is much appreciated.

Q1. What brought you to residential conveyancing? 

In 1987 I got a university summer holiday job at a local solicitor’s firm. I was assigned to a busy, personable, conveyancing solicitor who was great at his job. I spent 8 weeks there working alongside him and became infected by the conveyancing bug.  

Q2. Do you still enjoy your work? 

Yes, well to be accurate, yes most of the time! Now I get pleasure out of seeing younger conveyancers in the department develop and my difficult cases getting safely over the line rather than the volumes I used to do.  

Q3. When you are onboarding a new client, can you share examples of situations where alarm bells might ring and when you would decline to act?   

The client who rings to instruct you saying they want to exchange and complete within 10 days; they do not want a survey or searches and their uncle will be transferring the full purchase price from his US Virgin Islands account is one from last year. Another recently when we asked about source of funds became very aggressive, very quickly, and wanting to know what business their wealth was to do with us? Er… thanks but no thanks.  

Q4. If there was one thing you could suggest to make the residential conveyancing process smoother and more efficient, what would it be? 

One Statutory instrument that implemented a requirement that leasehold management companies need to provide full replies to an LPE1 within 7 days of request at a maximum fee of £200 including vat. And a licencing authority to implement it.  

Q5. If you were taking on a new trainee or member of your support staff what would be your three most important pieces of advice when acting for a buyer in a residential transaction? 

We have a number of trainees and so this is from a chat I had with one this week: 

Know your client and what they are trying to achieve. This does not just mean taking some ID, doing a verification, and looking at a bank statement regarding their deposit. Talk to them! Is there anything they have seen when they offered that they want us to find out about or check from their visits? Are they going to live at the property themselves? Are they expecting to do works to the property? How are they going to jointly own the property? The list goes on and a 5-minute call at the outset gives you so much information and hopefully makes you seem human to the client. Building rapport and trust is critical.  

Q6. How do you deal with pre-exchange buyer client inspection?  

We suggest to the client they need to inspect the property when we send them replies to enquiries explaining the reasons why that is a good idea.  

Q7. Where do you stand on reporting on title? Do you prepare interim reports on title or a full and complete report on title when the due diligence process is completed?  

I am going to fudge this by saying both. We report on searches, protocol documents, mortgage, plans and replies to enquiries as and when we get them. Once we have everything, we then contract report sending them everything as a final summary.