Market Reflections

Market Reflections
Rob Thomas, Co-Founder PLS Solicitors

With the directive from government to stay on lock-down for at least another three weeks, what does this mean for the residential market in the UK?

Last week we saw the results of a survey undertaken by ReallyMoving, stating that three quarters of those who were planning a move before the COVID-19 crisis still plan to move as soon as possible.

Testament to this was Easter weekend, where we saw a significant number of enquiries from first time buyers hoping to exchange contracts on their purchase, which endorses what we have learned from this study. It also breathes optimism into what has been deemed one of the most challenging times since the 1930’s Depression.

In our view we must remain positive and remember that there is still a significant need for housing in the UK, and that we will bounce back.

The bounce back may be rapid

Following on from the 2008 recession, we saw an impetus to boost the housebuilding sector by introducing programmes like Home Buy Direct (now Help to Buy) and a significant drop in interest rates. We are confident that there will be a market solution for a more rapid return to pre-Covid-19 transaction levels.

What are we doing to ensure that we are ready for the ‘bounce back?’

Investing in technology and innovation

We have always been a progressive and innovative firm, and our ongoing investment in technology has resulted in us being able to respond to change quickly.

We have improved customer transparency, where our customers can use our PLS Portal 24/7 on desktop and via an iOS / Apple / Android App to track their case.

Our App has been particularly invaluable for those customers who have been unable to leave their homes due to Covid-19 and have therefore been able to sign, upload and return all documents without having to leave the safety of their own home.

In the past year, we have also incorporated Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) into our processes which has improved security, accuracy and speed without the need for human interaction.

Regular communications with our customers

Over the past 10 years, we have been working towards transforming the traditional conveyancer model to one where customers can feel in control of their own home move transaction.

Whilst recognising the importance of technology, we appreciate that all of our customers need us to be at the end of the phone too. We implemented our business continuity plans one week before the “lock-down” with all staff members now successfully working from home.

I am happy to report that we have continued to receive five star reviews from customers who have recently either just exchanged contracts or completed. One customer posted:

“Great service! Rubina Rob is the best! We completed our flat just before the arrival of our newborn. Rubina was excellent and supported us throughout the process. In addition, it was all completed in less than a month and we are extremely grateful for her assistance and we would highly recommend her!”

We can assure you that we will continue to invest in our people, technology and our processes to ensure that we will be ready for when our customers, referrers and broker partners need us.

Let’s keep the country moving!

Whilst strictly following the important stay at home and safety advice, we are continuing to exchange contracts on behalf of our customers, in line with the Government guidance. We are maintaining our “business as usual” approach in the face of these challenging times.