Clap for Conveyancers
Zoe Alexander, Recruitment Consultant18 January 2021
2020 is the year we clapped for the NHS, key workers and other individuals faced working throughout the pandemic. But there’s another group of individuals who have also faced unprecedented volumes of work in the last few months and continue to do so as we go into 2021. This group includes conveyancers, who have been racing to meet the Stamp Duty deadline in March for their clients. Here’s why I think they also deserve a special mention…
A tale of two halves
Rewind to a little over a year ago and property transactions almost ground to a halt as social distancing and lockdown took hold, with the market effectively shutting down in March. However, since then, there has been an admirable effort across the conveyancing industry to get things up and running again. Sector bodies came together to produce cross-industry guidance to support the government plans to re-open the housing market. When the market re-opened in May, and as lockdown eased, measures were put in place to allow chains of moves to take place safely and subsequently the volume of work for conveyancers quickly increased.
The Stamp Duty Tax effect
The Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday began in July for purchases of up to £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland. In Wales, the land transaction tax threshold was increased to £250,000. The pent-up demand and desire to move due to changing work practices, as well as the property tax reductions, has led to a significant momentum in the market.
A huge amount of pressure has been felt by conveyancers as they work to complete home moves before both the March 31st SDLT and LTT holiday deadlines. There’s also the withdrawal of the Help to Buy scheme in its current form in March 2021, adding to the workload. Plus, with firms having furloughed employees during the lockdown, there are fewer staff members available to deal with the extra workload.
Challenging times for Conveyancers
The increased volume of work has created a challenging and strenuous time for conveyancers. This in turn has created many feelings from fatigue and feeling detached while working from home, to experiencing extreme pressure with high volume workloads as they manage client expectations. In the last few months, I have come across many conveyancing candidates who want to leave the industry altogether due to their experiences. Some have been on the receiving end of abusive clients who are impatient about how long a transaction is taking, and there are some whose managers are giving them an unrealistic volume of work which effects the service they are capable of giving and want to give. Every day I see conveyancers posting on LinkedIn to give each other motivation to do their best and get through these times, which has created a lot of unity as they go through the same experience.
Conveyancing job roles
As you would expect, there has been an increase in conveyancing roles at law firms and property firms. If a firm offers residential property as a service, it is likely they are looking for a Residential Conveyancer to join their team due to their increased workload. Firms are also facing the prospect of their current conveyancers needing to take time off due to the extra pressures. In the last few weeks, I have also seen an increase in Locum Conveyancer roles to handle some of the workload imposed during this time, whether that is from employer absences or an overflow of work due to demand.
What does the future hold for Conveyancers?
Many conveyancers have been waiting to see if the government will extend the Stamp Duty holiday beyond March 2021, with a petition being signed by nearly 70,000 individuals in favour of this. However, the government has no plans to extend it, likely due to the fact they are losing too much money from it already. So, it’s expected that conveyancers will see their pipeline go from extremely busy until March when there will be a sharp falloff in instructions.
This pandemic has encouraged a lot of law firms to find new ways to work remotely effectively, and this is likely to continue for many firms from now on, conveyancing included. But in terms of careers, the difficult few months will have undoubtedly affected conveyancers. It’s still unknown to what degree the property market will slow down after March, and how this will translate in terms of redundancies or staff cutbacks. The bigger worry is that some might choose to leave the profession altogether due to how stressful the industry has been in the last few months. What is needed for the future is better support all round for those working in conveyancing, otherwise we risk facing another period with a shortage of experienced conveyancers.
Zoe works with Conveyancing solicitors across the country and can help you with any concerns or if you are unhappy at your current firm. She can also advise on any firms hiring conveyancers at present. Contact her on 0161 214 6112 or send her an email to email@example.com.