Maintaining Client Service In Trying Times

The lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19 is without doubt the most devastating threat to transactional activity in the residential and commercial property market all of us will have seen. At Bartons we seamlessly transferred our property experts from working in the office to working from home within just one morning ensuring that we continue to deliver the high level of service and professionalism our clients and associates expect of us. This is thanks to the foresight of having an IT strategy that could cope with major disruption with having a strong backup team in IT, finance and administration.

All our residential and commercial property teams in Kingsbridge, Totnes and Bristol are functioning normally but from home and from the client point of view things are scarcely different. For many years, we have shown a high degree of flexibility in terms of methods of gathering client ID, giving independent legal advice in terms of occupier’s consent and personal guarantees (using Skype and FaceTime or Zoom) and it is interesting that it takes an emergency for others to follow the path we have long been treading. Not a single transaction has been lost or delayed as a result of our shift to home working.

We have been using a sophisticated case management system across the entire firm for many years and have rolled out dual screen and paperless or paper light working so that both frontline conveyancers and support staff are able to work more or less in the same way as they have already been working but from home. For some time, we have been lodging applications electronically with search providers, local authorities, the Land Registry companies house and HMRC.

We have every confidence that the measures which we have successfully implemented to modernise and future proof the firm over recent years will enable us to maintain excellent client service so that few will notice that there is any difference, save where physical documents are required. Direct dials have been diverted to telephone numbers or mobiles and physical post is being redirected to a central location where it can be scanned and distributed.We have been greatly assisted during this period by Alex Robertson of IT Workhouse, our IT services provider, with whom we have a very long standing relationship.

It is gratifying to see the profession as a whole becoming more flexible and co-operative in order to get things through.

In addition to everyday residential buying and selling, our work continues in particular with lease extensions, mortgages and remortgages and given that people have now got more time on their hands, we are increasingly seeing property housekeeping taking place such as transfers of equity or rearranging ownership to reduce capital gains tax or inheritance tax liability.

Raymond Hayes, Chairman


About the Author

Raymond Hayes is an author on property law and graduate of London and Oxford Universities, Raymond was formerly a partner with a leading Hong Kong firm. His specialties include investment properties, second homes and high value residential plot sales for developers.

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