by Mark Johnston
In a radical move, from January 2012, the HSBC bank to offer there own established panel of solicitors and licensed conveyancers to provide the required legal service to their mortgage customers.
Countrywide property services, is one firm that has won their tender to be part of the panel and Paul Creffield, corporate operations director at Countrywide said 2we are delighted to have been selected by HSBC and welcome the opportunity to work with HSBC”.
Customers choosing to opt to use a firm from the banks panel will benefit from:
– no sale, no legal fees
– fixed fees to allow customers to budget
– 24 hour updates, 7 days a week, so customers can keep a track on whats happening
– managed service, meaning the firms will be tracked to ensure they work in a timely manner
A recent press release from the HSBC about the new panel they stated that their customers will benefit from “speed, efficiency and consistent quality of service”.
All mortgage customers however are still free to use their own conveyancy firm to act for them, but the bank will still use a firm from their own panel to undertake their legal requirements and the customer will have to pay for both.
Eddie Goldsmith, of Goldsmith Williams solicitors, suggested “the move by the HSBC may well lead to customers having to pay more for services, which is of course unfortunate for the consumer”.
Peter Dockar, head of mortgages at HSBC, believes that “our new panel arrangement will spare customers the time and hassle of searching for a firm”.
The HSBC have chosen just over 40 firms in England and Wales to be part of their panel and the Law society suspects that they have made their calculations of how many to include on the opinion that the majority of their customers will opt to use the banks firms.
Desmond Hudson, the chief executive of the Law society has stated “we are concerned that fewer than 42 firms will serve home buyers who use the HSBC for their mortgages”. Although the bank has a relatively small share of the mortgage market, many believe such a low number of firms could struggle to provide all of the potential customers with the service they seek.
Processes have been put in to place to enable the bank rather than the consumer to ensure who will presents them on the panel for conveyancing work.
Many suspect that this move on a whole has less to do with a better more improve service for the borrower and much more to do with the way the general conveyancing market has failed lenders in the past with control over fraud and negligence.
If however this service does prove to be successful it could mean that other lenders will be likely to follow suit with panels of their own. Rob Hailstone, founder of the bold group, a property professional and conveyancer, has suggested that “this is another nail in the coffin for many high street law firms”.
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