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MMI Property Commentary

Commentary on the impact of conveyancing on housing issues

It is self-evident that an organisation which is driven for the most part by the property and lending markets will be impacted by movements in those markets. Accordingly, the political debates on the nature of the housing market and lending in the UK matter a great deal to McVey and Murricane.

building site

As an example, the views over land for new houses vary from those who feel strongly that green spaces should be maintained at all costs and those that have equally deep feelings that the supply of new properties requires to be increased to meet greater demand. Given that McVey and Murricane are one of the largest providers in Scotland of conveyancing services to clients who are purchasing new build homes (often with the benefit of government schemes) the influence of political decisions are very apparent.

At the same time, the focus by much of the media on the housing situation in the south-east of England does not paint a picture that is particularly familiar in Scotland except for some hotspots in Edinburgh, the West End of Glasgow and parts of Aberdeen (though that city is deeply influenced by the vicissitudes of the Oil industry).

The bottom line is that housing is a political football and fuels passions in the UK that would not be recognisable in many other countries. Issues within housing are exacerbated by legal processes which, on any reasonable view, require review and modernisation. Recent changes in legislation in Scotland have focused on technical issues which are not relevant to the day-to-day consumer of legal services. At the same time the changes that have taken place in the lending industry and its consequential effect on conveyancing have not been met with the necessary root and branch procedural modifications that would create a Scottish conveyancing system suitable for the new reality in which we live.

Various senior figures within McVey and Murricane will continue to propose to regulators and those in authority that changes need to be made for the benefit of the normal. At the moment it is the consumer that suffers from a system that is not fit for purpose.

building site

From a belief 20 years ago that Scotland had a superior system of conveyancing to England, it is now absolutely clear that the Scottish system is effectively broken. Currently, conveyancing in Scotland is effectively an English style system with none of that system’s benefits in procedure and structure but with all of its failings whilst at the same time there is a general belief on the part of the consumer that the Scottish “upfront offer” is still a realistic approach, when the reality is that the value of the “upfront offer” long ago became an aspirational one rather than something with any substance.

McVey and Murricane believe that modern technology and a realistic approach could provide quick wins in resolving the problems with the Scottish conveyancing system. It would be a small contribution to easing the already structural issues that exist within the housing market itself.

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