We all know moving house can be very stressful, with new research from Moverly showing that 63% of sellers have experienced delays when selling a home over the past year. Furthermore, one in five saw their transaction collapse, and one in ten were subject to more than one fall through.
This was revealed in a survey of over 1,200 UK home movers who have sold a home within the last year, commissioned by digital property pack provider Moverly.
But why can the process take so long and what can be done to speed up the process?
In this blog post we’ll explore:
- The average current transaction time for moving house
- How long each stage takes
- Why does conveyancing in the UK take long than in other countries
- Why does conveyancing take longer for leasehold properties
- What else can delay your conveyancing
- How to speed up the process
What are the average current timescales for moving home?
At the moment, the average transaction (between agreeing the purchase of your home and moving in) is up to 5 months according to Rightmove, and this could be even longer if you are buying a leasehold property.
So what is included in the process and how long does each step take?
One of the key reasons that conveyancing can be such a lengthy process is due to all of the different parties involved, which can mean there’s a lot of chasing to be done. The longest parts of the process are:
- Completing searches on the property and waiting for a response from local authorities
- Arranging a mortgage
- Drafting or reviewing the contract pack
Although there is no fixed schedule for conveyancing, it can be broken down into three main stages as follows:
Normally 2-4 weeks
2-3 days / with YouConvey
- Agree the purchase of your property
- Start working with a conveyancer
- Complete your initial paperwork including the identification process and source of funds enquiry
- Apply for a mortgage
Normally 8-10 weeks
4-6 weeks / with YouConvey
- Request the local and other searches
- Have the contract pack reviewed
- Receive your mortgage offer
- Sign the contract and pay your deposit
- Agree the completion date
- Exchange of contracts
Normally 2-4 weeks
2 weeks / with YouConvey
- Deposit paid
- Sign any remaining documents
- Pay your balance to your conveyancer in time for the completion date
- Move in
So how come the conveyancing process doesn’t take as long in other countries?
Unfortunately we’ve got an imperfect conveyancing process in the UK, one that isn’t designed for today’s digital commerce.
The core principle of conveyancing is “caveat emptor“, which translates as let the buyer beware. What this means is that the buyer of a property has to carry out all due diligence, whilst the seller is not required to disclose all information by default. It is really up to the buyer to interrogate them as to the boundaries of the property, its planning uses, and whether there are any other risks or obligations.
This is different elsewhere in the world – even in the Commonwealth countries such as Australia, where some of the states require the seller to disclose all material information without being asked. If they don’t do so, the buyer has a right of action against them. Whilst there is talk of bringing seller disclosure to the UK it is some time off (if at all) and for the foreseeable future the current process continues.
So, unless you as a buyer ask the right questions, the seller has no responsibility to provide material information. There is a lot of information gathering and enquiries which your conveyancer will need to do, and this to-ing and fro-ing inevitably takes time. The time taken from issuing the contract by the seller to the buyers conveyancers being happy with the title and ancillary issues can routinely take 6–8 weeks.
Why does conveyancing take longer for leasehold properties?
If the property you’re buying is leasehold, then unfortunately you may be looking at an extra couple of weeks onto your timescale.
Remaining term of the lease
Issues can arise if you’re looking to purchase a house or flat with a shorter term lease, e.g. 125 years, which can be pretty common in London. Although there is nothing wrong with these properties, most lenders prefer to see at least 30 years on top of the term of your mortgage with them.
However, even that is not going to be good enough, and any conveyancer will caution you against buying a property with only 65 years left on its lease.
This is because if you want to move on after say 5 years, your property will be unmortgageable. So this can bring about a potential delay, as if the lease is not long enough you will have to ask the seller to extend it.
Avoiding financial surprises
Even if the lease has plenty of time to run, your conveyancer will still want a whole range of questions to be asked of the landlord or managing agent. They will want to know if there are any nasty financial surprises awaiting you, such as repairs to the communal roof which could be extremely expensive.
This information is not held centrally but locally – quite often in a folder in someone’s drawer, and the time wasted waiting for responses on leasehold properties is legendary, so add at least 2 weeks onto the transaction if leasehold.
What else can delay your conveyancing?
Conveyancing can take longer than expected simply because it requires a lot of paperwork – some digital but mainly analogue. There are also around 6 stakeholders involved in a transaction (you, the seller, both your conveyancers, your lender and possibly your mortgage broker too).
Additionally, there will also be time delays whilst the conveyancers deal with other cases, as they’re often dealing with multiple customers at one time.
Here are just a few of the most common causes of delay with conveyancing which can push your transaction time back:
- A ‘chain nightmare’ – unfortunately if you end up in a chain, which is very common in transactions, this could easily add 4-8 weeks onto the timescales. This is because the people you are buying from will often have somewhere they want to buy, and if there is an issue with that ongoing purchase then you are likely to be stuck in a ‘chain nightmare’.
- An issue with the property title – although it’s not very common, it is possible that something turns up that can’t be resolved quickly. There may be a missing deed which may be held by Land Registry, or if it’s a long time ago an indemnity policy could be put in place to protect you and your lender.
- Outstanding information about the lease you are taking over – management companies can be notoriously difficult to get responses from and it’s quite common to have to wait for weeks to get even the most simple of information.
- An issue with your mortgage offer – for example, the lender’s valuer may have down valued the property. Lenders’ valuers are conservative folk at the best and they will be reluctant to value any property over the price set by the estate agent. If they downvalue it means the lender won’t lend what you want them to, which could lead to you not being able to afford the property.
- There could be a probate involved where one of the sellers has recently died and before the transaction can legally proceed a Grant of Probate is required. This could take weeks or months depending on what the size of the estate is.
- Your seller may be buying a new property which isn’t actually built or completed yet.
- You may be buying through one of the Government Help to Buy Schemes – there are additional rules and this could take a little longer, or the seller may be selling a Help to Buy Property which again could delay matters.
How to make conveyancing faster and less stressful?
If you’re not one of the lucky ones buying for cash from a seller who is already out of the property, and the title is a nice easy freehold property, then do not fret. You can still make your conveyancing faster and less stressful, which is where YouConvey steps in.
Our aim is to take the stress out of moving home, including unnecessary delays! Since launching in 2021, we’ve already shown the benefits of our service, with statistics from completed cases between February 2022 and December 2022 showing the majority of cases completed within 13 weeks, bettering the national average by 5-7 weeks.
How do we do this you ask?
From the moment you start using YouConvey you’ll be assigned your very own dedicated Home Mover Advisor, who will guide you through the process from start to finish with 24/7 support and advice. Not only does this help you navigate your way through your home move, but you’ll feel more engaged throughout which will reduce your stress and anxiety by keeping you in the loop and up to date with progress.
Additionally, you’ll be given access to all of the necessary documentation you need to complete on Day 1 of your transaction, allowing you to take control of your conveyancing and bypass unnecessary delays, whilst your Home Mover Advisor provides regular updates throughout to eliminate the need for any chasing.
Last but definitely not least, we work with a hand picked selection of some of the best conveyancers in the country, and will assign one to your case so you can be sure you’re in good hands. We’ll do all of the chasing for you to eliminate as many delays as possible, and we’ll keep you updated at all times.
If you’re about to embark on your home moving journey or would like some friendly advice, get in touch today – Contact Us – YouConvey – The UK’s first collaborative conveyancing service (you-convey.co.uk)