Although in its infancy, a scheme spear-headed by the team at Law Firm Services and introduced in July 2020, has seen estate agents and lawyers across the North and beyond reap reward and benefit enormously.
Speaking with Stephanie Hill, manager of one of 26 Ryder and Dutton branches it is clear that the ‘Contract Ready’ scheme is really paying dividends to not only the estate agency, but law firms, conveyancers and clients alike.
‘We implemented Minerva and started the scheme just as we came out of lockdown last summer, so it was timely. Simply put the process is just seamless and really helps prevent delays further down the line. We find that generally draft contracts are going out a lot sooner – by about 3-4 weeks earlier than before.’
A positive spin on the property buying process
Stephanie works as branch manager in Halifax, where towards the end of 2020, closures at the local authority caused up to 12 weeks delays in searches. Ryder and Dutton explain to potential vendors at valuation stage how the scheme can help mitigate and alleviate some of these challenges ;
‘It’s great to be able to offer the scheme to vendors who are worried about how long the process of buying and selling property can take. The national average is 5 and half months, so it is understandable that some people feel negative about the whole process. Vendors understand searches will be requested at the time of listing and this will remove the delays later in the process Buyers then do not have to wait to order and receive search reports, and only have to pay for them if the transaction completes In this way we really do have happy clients!’
The scheme is rolled out through strong relationships with 7 law firms across the region to whom Ryder and Dutton refer their clients. When asked how easy it is to have vendors and buyers engage with solicitors they work with Stephanie explains;
‘It works really well as we have built strong relationships with them all. Here at Halifax we refer to Ramsdens and Holden Smith. It reassures the vendors and buyers that we are using local law firms who know the area meaning that we can provide a great service for all, leaving the lawyers to do the law and give their clients a really positive experience.’
From sale to purchase in only 4 weeks
The benefit of the scheme has been a real boon for those with many clients keen to beat the looming SDLT deadline. More property has shifted in these last twelve months than most can remember, and lot of this is attributed to the Chancellors’ SDLT holiday of course; maybe not the most loved part of the pandemic ammunition to protect the economy, but certainly one loved by the general selling public who saw it as a chance to sell their property quickly.
‘The scheme has made a huge difference to those vendors who have come to us looking for a property sale to be in less than 6 months. A perfect example is a property we listed last month, where the lady wanted to sell quickly. Not only did we sell the property within the first week, but because the searches were ordered and the vendor had provided all the information up-front, as part of the contract ready scheme, the contract was submitted immediately and the whole transaction has only taken 4 weeks.
All being a part of one system is safer, simpler and quicker
One of the biggest issues for most people when they are buying or selling a home is all the form filling and the duplication of content on each of these forms. The estate agents and lawyers seem to ask for pretty much the same, or very similar, information. Minerva helps alleviate this and in turn speeds up the entire process.
‘Historically before we implemented the scheme, clients would feel like they were just answering the same questions several times. With Minerva there is less duplication. The up-front information provided is using the same TA6 questions that feed into the PIQ document so all the information is correct, compliant and comprehensive. The home moving process can be very stressful, but with these elements it really does not have to be.’
Ultimately the timing of the scheme could not have been better, Minerva helps all parties involved know that their ID processes meet the HMLR Safe Harbour Standard, the onboarding system is safe, secure and simple for clients to use and it helps estate agents provide key information for the new TA6 part 1 to conveyancers.
‘We have never had a vendor raise any worry about completing the forms online and using Minerva. Everyone has found it safe and simple to use, it has completely solved the issue of traipsing into town to our office and then to a solicitors office to sort ID, and for clients who aren’t local, it has made everything so much easier and straightforward.
We are in different times now and I think pretty much everyone is wanting this kind of service and even expecting it now.’