I think it’s fair to say that when it comes to clients and their knowledge of the mortgage and housing markets, it’s either a case of feast or famine. Borrowers either come in knowing a large amount about what goes on, or at least pretending to do so, or they are somewhere near the bottom of the range.
Not that there’s anything wrong with this of course. Who, in the right mind, would anticipate a prospective first-time buyer, for instance, presenting themselves to you fully informed not just about how the mortgage market works, but also the conveyancing process that will eventually take them into their first home? After all, this is why people come to you – for your expertise and insight and knowledge which you can then impart to the client.
As mentioned, this is knowledge not just across the mortgage piece but also around the conveyancing process because it’s perhaps this part of the ‘journey’ that is least understood and liable to misinterpretation, especially when the client is involved in a complex chain, and/or simply hasn’t been through this before. Ask most first-timers, for example, what surprised them most about making that first move, and I can guarantee that they will talk about the conveyancing, its requirements and the length of time it took.
So, in that respect, having a friendly and informative figure active within the transaction who is not the agent – acting on behalf of the vendor – or the lender – acting on behalf of themselves – would clearly be of benefit to all. Seems surprising therefore that some advisers still do not offer conveyancing advice or a recommendation, and in a way cede some of that control and client influence that can be very important during a transaction.
Recent research conducted by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) shows the key areas which its member firms believe consumers should know about when it comes to the whole purchase/remortgage process. Top of the shop were client’s lack of understanding on the timeframes involved – no doubt this comes from a place where conveyancers are constantly asked about key tasks and when the client is likely to complete – and also a lack of awareness about the fraud risks prevalent within the process.
These are two very interesting sets of issues because it’s quite clear that advisers who recommend conveyancers could play a major role in advising the client on these matters. Those who might allow the client to walk out the door and go with their own choice of conveyancer, are seriously hindering their ability to do that. Indeed, we might very well argue that, when it comes to instances of fraud, those clients who have constant contact from their adviser might (in some way) be protected from themselves, especially when it comes to simple mistakes which can leave the door open for fraudsters.
Take, for instance, use of social media which can be the real ‘icebreaker’ for criminals seeking to extract deposit monies from the client. We’ve all seen the cases where fraudsters seek out those purchasing homes, hack their emails, pretend to be their lawyers, and get the purchasers to send the cash to other bank accounts. This has resulted in some very high-profile fraud ‘successes’ where the individuals involved lost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
So, even if it’s just the imparting of common sense advice, having the mortgage adviser active throughout the whole process can be a real boon and benefit to clients, especially those that are either new to it, or are simply not up to speed. Let’s not forget that people only tend to move/purchase on average a couple of times after their initial foray into the housing market, and there could have been a sizeable number of years between that activity.
The important point for advisers is to ensure their continued activity within a transaction even after the mortgage has been sorted, plus of course taking care of all other ancillary needs will mean a closer relationship with the client can be established, and you are making the most of those income-generating opportunities that each client presents.
The level of knowledge and advice you can present should not be contained to just the mortgage, especially when the delivery of conveyancing advice, for example, is so simple and only requires access to a quality distributor. Everything else is taken care of and you can ensure your client has access to a conveyancer that knows what they’re doing and can work quickly within the necessary timescales. That sort of service should be hard to ignore.
Harpal Singh is managing director of Broker Conveyancing