During COVID-19 the housing market had considerably slowed given government measures to stop the spread of coronavirus and ease the public health crisis. As a result of the lockdown, shops have had to close and with this and other measures taken by the government, many interactions between house buyers, sellers, agents and law firms had paused.
While this was a challenge for all operating in the market, it was not Shoosmiths’ intention to pause all our operations.
As a large business, we had invested in communications software to allow for home working and with a positive mindset during the most testing conditions, the firm continues to carry on pushing through as many completions across the board as it is able to during this challenging period with the same client experience and quality that Shoosmiths is well known for. Thankfully the property sector was recognised early in the softening of lockdown by the government for England as a key contributor to the economy with estate agents being allowed to return to business and housebuilders to construction projects from 15th May providing the rules on hygiene and safe distancing could be observed. Separate rules apply to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as a consequence of the autonomy of devolution.
At Shoosmiths our systems don’t make any distinction as to where we are operating from and our national dial numbers mean that wherever we are, clients only need one number to get straight through to our personnel with conduct of their matter. All documentation is scanned into our systems, enabling us to review and progress clients’ transactions without the need for physical files. We are also adept in converting documents for electronic transmission to reduce the turnaround time as we prepare for exchange. Clients also don’t need to visit us or our offices to get their documentation signed and back to us.
The lockdown period had presented problems to a wide range of clients, who may have been shielding or self-isolating due to underlying health or age related issues; or committed to a completion date where parties were unable to move due to Covid related issues in the chain; or whilst removal companies were unable to operate.
We have sought to review each matter’s unique set of circumstances, investing time with them to explore their options, endeavouring to protect and guide our clients through this unchartered time. As a consequence we have enabled over 500 clients to move home during April and May, several of which have progressed from deal agreed to completion during this period. Early signs show a gentle recovery in new instruction numbers though yet to reach the levels of busyness experienced before lockdown in early March.
The firm has heard from clients and contacts recently who have praised the resilience of its conveyancing teams to demonstrate commercial pragmatism and be within reach of their needs:
“I have just had a conversation with [a manager of an estate agency] and he has asked me to pass his huge thanks to you and the team for in his words – “Unbelievable Work” – a double deal yesterday exchanged, another double deal set up for exchange and completion next week, communication has been brilliant and he ended the praise by saying that in all the years of working in the industry he has never known a law firm go to such lengths to assist, guide and help clients through to the end of their transactions. At the start of lockdown he was terrified that the pipeline would fall apart but it’s not the case and he has asked me to send you this email to say thank you.”
“The feedback we have had from our offices has been excellent, you and your team have done a really good job to build relationships and confidence in an exceptionally short period of time, so thank you very much... The facts are indisputable, the majority of the exchanges and completions that have taken place are where we have our panel involved. Most other firms gave up on the 24th March!”
“As we continue to work in these testing times, the relationships built with conveyancing partners really come to the fore. Thank you Kelly Stubbs and Samantha Ingram for all your efforts in the past few weeks – you’ve been truly brilliant”
This positive feedback has been endorsed by the continued praise by clients via Trustpilot as to Shoosmiths’ good sense and support.
Ultimately Shoosmiths’ conveyancing service thrives on clients’ willingness to move home and transact residential property and so the firm endeavours wherever possible to keep deals on the table.