Conveyancing in the 1960s

By Angela Higgins, Licensed Conveyancer

As Licensed Conveyancer Angela Higgins celebrates the big “five-oh”, she contemplates what it must have been like to be a conveyancer fifty years ago.

After some extensive Google-ing, I’ve found that whilst the basic principles of conveyancing have not changed, the way that conveyancing is done has changed in many respects, as has the experience of the buyers and sellers.

In 1968, the year I was born, the residential property market was very different. The average house price was around £2,500 and one in seven homes had the loo outside!

To apply for a mortgage, the buyer would have had to make an appointment to see the bank manager at the branch. They might have then rung the family’s solicitor from the phone box on the street corner (most homes still did not have a landline). At their appointment with the solicitor, which the buyer would attend “suited and booted”, the property transaction process would be explained.

Once the legal work was underway, it would have mainly been dealt with by letter – typed on a typewriter. When exchange of contracts took place, this was normally done in person by one solicitor attending the offices of the other solicitor.

This is all quite different from today. The property market is unrecognisable, with average house prices in the UK now at £225,621. Also, with advances in technology, the whole transaction can be done without seeing a solicitor in person and you can apply for your mortgage online. In many ways, the personal touch has been lost.

In 50 years, the legal process hasn’t really changed – the fundamentals are the same – the seller’s solicitor issues the contract pack and the buyer’s solicitors check the title and raise enquiries. But the speed at which the process can be completed has changed dramatically. In 1968, the average time a sale took to go through will have been around 6-12 weeks – now lawyers will aim for as little as 4 weeks.

What will conveyancing look like fifty years in the future? Certainly technology will continue to make the process more efficient, with ever more services being digitalised. But hopefully we’ll still be here, providing expert advice and guidance on buying or selling your home.

If you’re buying or selling property, Switalskis’ Conveyancing Team offer a high quality, personal service from 13 locations across Yorkshire. Contact the team for a quote today, call 0800 138 0458 or send us a message using the form below.