Reports are widespread that the housing market is well and truly on the up. Halifax announced that property prices have shot up by 7.3 per cent since this time last year.
Prices are not the only aspect of buying and selling a property that are currently rising; so are people’s expectations.
Last month myhomemove released its own research on the length of time it takes for people to reach completion once they had exchanged. Traditionally this was typically 28 days, today the average is 14. Our own data confirms that 30 per cent of exchanges and completions take place in 2 days and 16 per cent are simultaneous exchange and completion.
So what is driving this trend? As we all know the buy-to-let market gained pace during the recession and no landlord wants their property sitting in limbo or with void periods. Alongside this, we have seen an increase in the number of cash buyers, with over 20 per cent of buyer transactions we dealt with in 2013 being a cash purchase.
When coupled with people’s expectation that because they found their new property online (via Zoopla or Rightmove for example) they will be able to ‘buy’ it quickly, this has resulted in time frames being squeezed.
On the surface this may seem like a great thing with people moving into their homes quicker, but the reality can cause problems, piling the stress on to clients arranging removals, lenders on satisfying mortgage offer conditions and releasing funds, estate agents in coordinating chains and conveyancers making it happen.
And no, I have not forgotten the extra burden it puts on the intermediary.
There are a number of aspects that need to be in place, in addition to working with the client, to ensure mortgages and conditions are executed – with MMR requirements, it appears the days of conditional offers are over. And when dealing with life and GI partners, the critical B&C and life policies need to be on risk in shorter timescales, often without the comfort of an exchange and completion gap.
So what is the answer? It is unlikely that home movers will want to go back to the 28-day window but as the experts, is it our duty to manage their expectations better?
Often this can simply be a question of helping the client understand the impact on the different parts of the supply chain.
But there is also the issue of service providers not keeping up to speed with changing consumer behaviour and expectations.
We have found that simply providing the consumer with online access to their file allows them to be in control; adding documents and responding to questions as required.
Providing relevant case access to the intermediary means they can manage other aspects such as policies on risk, without having to rely on the post. Whether we like it or not, if we can’t work online today, we are not keeping pace with at least 80 per cent of our clients.
For the intermediary this has to mean choosing their partnerships carefully, whether this is the lender, conveyancer or insurer, to ensure the customer’s needs are met.
Dev Malle is group sales director at myhomemove