None of us expected the challenges facing the UK housing market during the first stages of #lockdown due to COVID-19.
X-Press Legal Services provides solicitors and conveyancing professionals with a complete range of property searches and reports which are at the heart of a property transaction process, related to local authority, property and environmental issues.
We work closely in particular with the planning teams at local authorities to produce our search reports and during the pandemic have found them to be not only flexible in their approach but also highly responsive.
As we all worked together to keep property transactions moving during social distancing, we had to address the issue of how we would normally visit the councils to review and collate accurate data for our report.
Although many firms and councils had already adopted online services, those that hadn’t were quick to pivot and change their traditional ways of working to ensure that once the green light went ahead for new property viewings the process of purchasing a property could continue to take place safely.
There were already a high number of searches underway at the start of lockdown and new searches had to be handled in a very different way.
Emily Varnam from X-Press Legal Services Gloucestershire comments: “This seems to be a common theme of mine but I can’t imagine the pressure we’d be under without our local authorities’ willingness and support during this period. Councils of Gloucestershire – and many outside of “our” local area – you have been fantastic. Too many individual instances to mention from all departments – I simply cannot stress our thanks enough!”
X-Press owners have been overwhelmed by the collaboration and support from many suppliers, councils and clients throughout the pandemic and have built upon these relationships during a time of great uncertainty.
Director of X-Press Legal Services Fylde Coast & Cumbria Wendy Reece adds: “They have been totally amazing. The pressures that they must be under at the minute and yet still the support that we have been receiving from them has been truly brilliant!”
Less than a month after the UK housing sector started to reawaken post lockdown, X-Press Legal Services saw a sharp rise in the number of searches undertaken by conveyancing firms – up to 114% – suggesting that consumer confidence in moving home had duly returned and the sudden increase in searches meant that collaboration was key to get the market moving again.
Ben Wheeler, owner of X-Press Legal services Nottingham and Derby adds:” Totally agree. The willingness of local planning teams to remotely provide information and data has really helped. I’d be interested to know whether it has been easier doing it that way rather than having us come in for results. I wonder if, with some councils, we might see a ‘new normal’ develop in a post pandemic world.”
I would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to all our planning team contacts who have worked with the network of X-Press offices to keep the housing market moving during what has been, I think we can all agree, an incredibly challenging time.
Lynne Lister, Managing Director X-Press Legal Services.