The Stamp Duty Rush

01 Apr 2016

The Stamp Duty rush highlighted shoddy conveyancers and the estate agents who recommended them – who to avoid in the future.

Even before the Chancellor announced an increase in stamp duty for multiple home owners from 1 April 2016, and the consequential rush to complete house moves before that date, conveyancing standards were arguably already at an all time low.

The 2007 housing meltdown led conveyancing firms to shed staff in order to keep afloat, and as things started to pick up in 2010, many chose to recruit cheaper employees, with or without legal training, with a plan to train them up in-house. Unfortunately, with transactions constantly building, no time was available and has remained so. No experience and no law degree for so many.

Fortunately for those businesses, few members of the public tend to ask about the person handling their home move legal work; an assumption is made that badged behind a legal business, they must be expert.

Yet estate agents and conveyancers themselves know the standard of conveyancers range wildly, as they both face them every single day. There is always nothing more alarming than a person asking for a conveyancing quote and wanting the cheapest price. So much can go wrong in a home move that without a expert amply rewarded, corners will be cut. The same with a low estate agent fee; there will be no incentive to seek the very best price, saving you £000s.

Sadly, members of the public quite understandably accept recommendations for a conveyancer, but where unbeknown, the motivation can be one of pure reward, not of a genuine wish to secure them a quality lawyer.

With such low standards at work, the Chancellor then announces last November the need for a mad rush by conveyancers to get people moved by the 1 April 2016 or their clients face 3% extra Stamp Duty.

A rushing mediocre conveyancer. Scary.

So many dynamic conveyancers triumphed and their clients sailed through. But what about the less dynamic? The back-lash for failed completions will be harsh, with buyers facing that 3% extra stamp duty and sellers being blamed for using a slow lawyer, and quite rightly in many cases. But will it mean that the criticised conveyancers will lose work, and will the estate agents who recommended them lose work for making such a bad recommendation?……