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Article contributed by Richard Norman, Commercial Director Strategic Partnerships, UK & Canada, Dye &  Durham 

Reflecting on 2022

2022 has been challenging for households, businesses, and the UK economy in general. In the last year, there have been three different prime ministers, inflation has hit new heights, a new monarch has ascended to the throne following the sad passing of HRH Queen Elizabeth II, there has been significant drought across much of the country and a mini-budget caused shockwaves across the economy — all as the Russia/Ukraine conflict continues. 

 

Looking more specifically at our industry, the property sector saw UK house prices start the year at an average of £274,000, an estimated £24,000 higher than in January 2021. Data suggested it continued to rise throughout the year, with September averages reaching £295,000.*1 

 

We have, however, seen more recent numbers from mortgage lender Halifax, showing a 2.3 per cent fall in prices in November to an average £285,579. Market analysts are predicting these decreases will continue into 2023, with some suggestions pointing towards a five to 10 per cent reduction.*2

 

There have also been changes to the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), which aims to minimise firms’ risk of claims by putting compliance at the forefront.*3 The changes required member organisations to comply with the updated Core Practice Management Standards (CPMS) from 1 May 2022. This includes checking compliance with mortgage lenders’ Part 2 instructions. 

 

In September, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer oversaw a mini budget that announced Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) cuts until 31st March 2025 to help support home buyers and the wider housing market in general. Come 2025, nil-rate thresholds will reverse, resulting in SDLT-free thresholds from £125,000 to £250,000. For first-time buyers, the rate will rise from £300,000 to £425,000. The value of properties for which first-time buyers can claim relief is also set to increase from £500,000 to £625,000.  

 

COP27 took place in November, bringing together world leaders to discuss progress on climate action and the urgent need to reduce global carbon emissions. Property and real estate formed part of these conversations, including decarbonising existing real estate, and increasing use of green energy to power and heat homes.  

 

The HM Land Registry Digital by Default deadline came into play on 30th November, requiring that all applications going to HMLR, other than first registrations, must now be lodged digitally. As a result, technology innovations have emerged that enable conveyancers to complete DRS (AP1) applications seamlessly, securely, and reliably, including Dye & Durham’s cloud-based post-completion platform.  

 

For us personally here at Dye & Durham UK, everything we have done this year has been laser-focused on improving the precision and confidence of our customers. In recent years, we have acquired nine businesses in the UK. As experts in the legal sector, our extended team – many of them lawyers – now bring a wealth of legal business experience to support firms and bring practice management and business solutions to market. 

 

This has seen us unify and strengthen our brand by incorporating many of these acquired businesses — including Terrafirma, Future Climate Info, Lawyer Checker, Easy Convey and poweredbypie – under Dye & Durham’s master brand. This has resulted in a simplified, consistent customer experience and makes it even easier for clients to access new products and services.  

 

Other milestones for 2022 have included Dye & Durham’s introduction of The Climate Report, the industry’s very first climate-focused due diligence report to model future environmental risks based on future climate scenarios.  

 

The report supports conveyancing professionals by informing home buyers of the potential hazards arising from climate change — both today and up to 60 years into the future — at a specific property address. 

 

We already know that:  

  • Approximately 4,000 properties are at substantial risk from coastal erosion across Great Britain, expected to reach 23,000 in the next 80 years  
  • There will be an increase of more than half a million properties at high exposure of soil subsidence between now and the 2080’s (with this year’s drought showing what we may increasingly see during summer months in the future) 
  • The number of households at substantial risk of flooding in the UK is set to rise by 24 per cent over the next 30 years 
  • 36,000 UK properties will be exposed to extreme winds by 2070.  

 

The Law Society of England and Wales, for its part, published a climate change resolution that outlined the role solicitors can play in addressing the climate crisis. This included a call to action for solicitors to develop a climate-conscious approach to legal practice. 

 

We believe this points to a transformational change occurring within the industry over time that will help ensure key stakeholders within a property transaction, particularly home buyers, are fully supported in understanding what impact climate change may have on a given property. 

 

At Dye & Durham, we are already providing the same data insights to both the lender and insurance sectors, and therefore to property lawyers, conveyancers, and the home-buying public. Our initiative provides a consistent view for the many stakeholders involved in a transaction, and we certainly see this as a growth area in 2023.  

 

The year 2022 also featured the following Dye & Durham solutions: 

  • The introduction of an award-winning new build search service, available through our BuildX from GlobalX ordering platform, that can reduce the average Local Authority Search time for plots from 25 days to 25 seconds   
  • A Funds to Collect service that takes an average of 98 per cent of payments for searches within 48 hours, dramatically reducing waiting times 
  • The Lender Handbook Checker, a lender-compliance tool that enables conveyancers to stay full apprised on specific mortgage lenders’ Part 2 instructions and to check for any changes that have occurred during the conveyance that could delay the submission of the Certificate of Title 
  • Lawyer Checker checks the law firm’s account details against Dye & Durham’s unique database to determine whether those details have a track record of successful usage within conveyancing — an easy and cost-effective way to mitigate the risk of fraud during the conveyance process. 

 

As we look ahead to 2023, we are hoping for greater economic and financial stability for everyone. But we are also confident that Dye & Durham products, services, and data insights – and the continued investment we are making in technology innovation — will allow us to provide the best-in-class, end-to-end solutions that will ultimately benefit all legal professionals as they continue to navigate uncertain times. 

 

Sources: 

 

  1. ONS :  https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/bulletins/housepriceindex/previousReleases  

 

  1. House price predictions 2023: https://www.property118.com/10-drop-in-house-prices-predicted-by-savills-in-2023/  

 

  1. CQS: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/firm-accreditations/conveyancing-quality-scheme/changes-to-cqs