Common Conveyancing Delays and How to Resolve Them

house and clock
When you’re buying or selling a home, it’s likely you’re hoping the process will be smooth and as straightforward as possible. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Conveyancing can reveal issues that can cause delays, and the conveyancing process itself can hit a roadblock, especially if you’re not prepared.

So if you want to buy a property or are in the planning stages of selling your home, here’s our list of the most common conveyancing delays and how to resolve them.

Slow Instructing of a Conveyancing Solicitor

One of the most common causes of conveyancing delays is a misconception about the conveyancing process itself. Buyers often incorrectly assume they should only instruct a solicitor once they have an offer accepted on a house. This mistake can slow down the conveyancing process considerably.

If you want to avoid this common conveyancing delay, it’s best to instruct your solicitor as early into the house buying process as possible; don’t wait until you’re making an offer. If you instruct your solicitor early, they can start organising what needs to be done so that when you do get an offer accepted, the ball is already rolling. You can learn more about the process using our free downloadable guide to conveyancing.

The Gazumping Problem

Gazumping doesn’t just slow down the house buying process; it can stop it dead. Gazumping is when you make an offer on a property, which the seller accepts — only for another buyer to swoop in and make a higher offer that the seller accepts. This can be extremely frustrating, and there are even calls for the government to make gazumping illegal.

For now, the only way to avoid gazumping is to ask the seller’s estate agent to remove the property from their listings as soon as your offer is accepted. While this may not stop you from being gazumped, it can help. If you’ve already started the conveyancing process, matching the new buyer’s offer might be an option. The seller might be more inclined to accept your higher offer because your solicitor has already started the process, and so the sale will go through faster than with a new buyer starting from scratch.

Disagreements between Buyer and Seller

Once an offer on a house has been accepted, the solicitors for the buyer and seller will liaise to agree on terms. Those terms will include important factors, such as the agreed-upon price, an estimate on when exchange and completion will happen, and discussions about fixtures and fittings.

These discussions can be contentious. Fixtures and fittings, in particular, can be a subject that causes a lot of disagreements. If the conditions of sale can’t be agreed on, the sales process can halt. In such cases, your conveyancing solicitor will work to negotiate with you and the seller’s solicitor. Compromise may be the only way to overcome this kind of delay.

Problems with Paperwork

There’s a lot of paperwork involved with buying and selling a property. From contracts that need to be written to ID checks and the forest’s worth of paper that a mortgage company will produce, that paperwork must all be available and complete. When there’s missing paperwork or a document that hasn’t been filled out or signed correctly, conveyancing delays are inevitable.

To avoid this delay, you need to work with your solicitor. They will let you know well in advance what paperwork you need to have on hand and what needs to be signed (and when you need a witness to your signature). The most important thing you can do to avoid paperwork delays is to work with your solicitor and be available to sign and return the necessary paperwork as it’s needed.

Slow Mortgage Valuations and Surveys

A mortgage valuation is an essential part of the house buying process. In itself, it isn’t a lengthy process, usually taking about 20-minutes from beginning to end. But mortgage valuations can still cause issues. That’s because mortgage lenders aren’t always the fastest when organising those valuations. Then there are the property surveys carried out by a surveyor after valuation. These can also slow the whole buying process down simply due to organisational issues.

To avoid these kinds of delays, it’s essential to start getting organised as early as possible. Make sure your mortgage lender is kept up to date so they can carry out the valuation faster, and begin arranging the survey with an RICS certified surveyor as soon as you have an offer accepted on a house.

Property Problems

One of the most common causes of a slow home purchase is when the surveyor discovers there are problems with the property. There may be problems with subsidence, rising damp, or the threat of local flooding. Any issues highlighted by a surveyor will have a price tag attached — and you may find your budget doesn’t extend to solving those problems on top of the price of the house.

While unexpected issues like this are hard to plan for, they don’t have to be a massive cause of stress. They’ll certainly cause a delay, but your solicitor will let you know everything a survey reveals. If issues are substantial, you might still be able to speed up the buying process by making a lower offer that takes into account the cost of resolving the highlighted problems.

Agreement In Principle Expiration

Buyers need to have an Agreement in Principle. This is an agreement from the mortgage lender stating the amount they are willing to lend for the mortgage. This is useful for buyers as it helps to clarify their price range when looking at new homes.

The problem is that an Agreement in Principle has a time limit. While there are variations between lenders — more so if you’re using a mortgage broker — you’ll find an Agreement in Principle only remains valid for around 90 days ( for some lenders, it can be up to six months). The problem begins when you make an offer, it gets accepted and the conveyancing process starts — and then your Agreement in Principle runs out, meaning a new mortgage needs to be organised.

To avoid this happening, always make sure you talk to your solicitor about the expected timeframes for the surveys and conveyancing. If it looks like there’s not going to be enough time to complete everything, start taking steps to get a new Agreement in Principle before you begin.

Local Searches

One of the most important parts of the conveyancing process is the local search. These searches ensure there aren’t any local issues within the property. It will reveal any disputes about property boundaries and any upcoming developments that may affect the property (such as a new motorway, supermarket, or high rise that’s had planning approval, for example). A local search can also identify any possible problems with local mines or sewers if the area is known for those issues.

Unfortunately, local searches take as long as they take and this varies among local authorities. There’s little that even your solicitor can do to speed them up. However, hiring a local solicitor may be beneficial for avoiding this common conveyancing delay.

A local solicitor will have first-hand knowledge of how long the local authority takes to complete local searches, and they can give you a much better idea of the timeframe to expect. So, while it doesn’t necessarily matter where your conveyancing solicitor is based, local knowledge is always advantageous.

The Property Chain

This is less about conveyancing and more to do with the general process of buying or selling a home. When people are selling a property, it often means they are buying one too — and they’ll usually need to sell their existing property before buying their new one. Property chains are when there is a long line of buyers and sellers, each one reliant on the next person in the chain. If just one person on a chain has a buyer pull out at the last minute — or pulls out themselves — the whole chain can collapse and slow everybody down.

Property chains can get lengthy, but they are also delicate. If someone’s finances aren’t approved, paperwork deadlines are missed, or issues with a property are highlighted by a survey or local search, then property chains can break. The only actionable step you can take in these cases is to maintain communication with your solicitor. They will be able to give you updates on what’s happening.

Coping with Conveyancing Delays

If you’re going through the process of buying or selling a property, conveyancing delays can be frustrating. However, if you talk to your solicitor, they may be able to advise you on what you can do to help speed the process up. Unfortunately, in many cases, time is the only solution. In situations where you can take the initiative, your solicitor will let you know what steps to take. In cases where you have little choice but to be patient, your solicitor will let you know that too.

Conveyancing is a huge part of the property buying process, and it needs to be carried out correctly. Choosing the right conveyancing solicitor can always help make the process more stress-free. They will have the experience and the know-how to spot where potential issues may arise and can advise you with complete transparency every step of the way.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a property, let us help. Get in touch with our friendly office team for a FREE, obligation-free initial chat where we can find out more about what you need.

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