Buying or selling a home is often known as one of the most stressful times of a person’s life. It is time consuming and can have complications or delays which may not have been anticipated. The purpose of this blog is to help potential buyers or sellers understand the potential problems and delays that can be encountered during the conveyancing process, along with advice on how best to avoid them.

It is worth noting that some of the delays are out of the control of the individual purchasing or selling, their conveyancer or the estate agent.

Instructing Solicitors

Depending on which firm the party involved instructs, the initial process of instructing a solicitor can sometimes take longer than anticipated. There are normally initial information forms to complete and return, as well as ID verification checks and Anti-Money Laundering checks to complete. This initial process can sometimes take time, especially if bank statements need to be obtained from the bank, or there are delays in the post if information is being sent that way rather than by email.

Other delays in the initial process of instructing solicitors can arise as a result of individuals not instructing solicitors as soon as the property is put on the market, or an offer being accepted. Firms that individuals would have wanted to use may be at full capacity and therefore alternative firms may need to be found and researched. This process can again take time, especially if quotes are compared between the different firms available.

It is therefore recommended that as soon as a person markets their property for sale, or is looking to purchase a property, instruct a solicitor at this time rather than wait.  By instructing a solicitor at this stage, will ensure that the right firm is chosen for the best value and the initial stages required can be completed in advance.

Obtaining the Management Pack for Leasehold Properties

If purchasing or selling a leasehold property, the management company or landlord are required to provide information relating to the property to the potential buyer. The management company or landlord usually charge a fee for providing the information and the information supplied as standard is the ‘LPE1’ form which is also known as the Leasehold Property Information form.

Depending on the landlord or management company, the length of time for them to respond to communication and provide the information can vary greatly, some responses are received within 5 working days, while others take 10 or more working days to respond.

To eliminate the potential delay, it is important for the Sellers’ conveyancer to request the information required from the landlord or management company early in the process. For the conveyancer to do this, they will need the contact details of the management company or landlord from the Seller. To assist with the process if there are minor delays in responding to communications, the Seller could contact the management company or landlord directly to chase them on providing the information.

Obtaining Certificates and Planning Permission Evidence

Purchaser’s conveyancers have a duty to ensure that all necessary planning permission and building regulations approvals have been obtained and are valid in relation to any construction or alterations made to the property.

The purchaser’s conveyancer will also want to ensure that the works done to the property have been carried out correctly and are completed in accordance with the applicable standards and regulations. Delays can occur where the evidence is not forthcoming or in some circumstances, not previously been obtained.

Certificates such as GASSAFE or FENSA, will normally be provided by the Seller in the initial Contract pack. However, on occasion, the Seller will have lost or misplaced the certificates. This can cause delays as the purchaser’s conveyancer will either request that the Seller obtain a replacement certificate or provide an indemnity insurance policy for the Buyer.

To avoid potential delays by not having all documentation required, the lack of documentation needs to be picked up early so that the conveyancer can request the appropriate remedy be taken. If planning permission or building regulation certificates or consent is needed in relation to works carried out, then the Local Authority will usually be involved and the amount of time that they will take to rectify the issue can take delays which is even more reason why early detection is key to mitigating delays.

Receiving responses and legal documents

There are a lot of legal documents that need to be received from the Seller’s conveyancer, initially there is the contract pack which includes the property information forms and then there are the responses to enquiries raised and any additional information or documentation requested by the purchaser’s conveyancer.

The Seller in this situation should ensure that they do not hold up the process by not responding within a reasonable amount of time to their conveyancer and provide the required documentation, etc in a timely manner. Responses to enquiries and requests should be done as quickly as possible so that the information can be relayed and investigated by the purchaser and their conveyancer.

The other element is that once all enquiries have been answered satisfactorily, then the parties are to sign the Contract and Transfer in preparation of Exchange and Completion. To ensure that there is no delay to the Exchange and Completion dates, the parties should be available to sign the documents in the presence of a witness, at the earliest opportunity and return the signed documentation to their conveyancers using the quickest method available by post.

Searches

When purchasing a property, searches are undertaken which provide important information, including planning permission history, local area information such as energy source or railway stations within and around the vicinity of the property, ground stability, drainage information, etc.

The locality of the property will affect the timescale in which the search results are returned. Most often search results are returned within one month from the date of order however, depending on the area of the property, they can take as long as two months to be returned.

Most firms as a policy do not undertake searches until the contract pack has been received by the Seller’s solicitor and therefore there is little that can be done by the buyer to avoid this delay however, having frequent communication between the parties and their conveyancers is the most efficient way to keep informed of the progress and prepare for any potential delay caused by the searches.

Mortgages

If a Lender is involved in a transaction, there are requirements that must have been met to proceed. Firstly, a mortgage valuation will need to be carried out on the property, although the valuations are not substantial surveys it can take time for the mortgage provider to arrange for an inspection to take place. It then takes time for the surveyor to write their report and for the Lender to then review the report.

To avoid delays caused by surveys, the buyer can have a surveyor carry out a structural survey as soon as their offer has been accepted on a property.

A second factor to consider when working with a Lender is the amount of time it takes to obtain a mortgage offer. If any mistakes on a mortgage application are made, for example, the incorrect national insurance number is written or there has been incorrect information included on the form in relation to the income of the buyer, this can cause delays as the Lender will need the errors to be rectified and will sometimes completely disqualify the entire application.

To avoid this happening, take care when filling in the application form and double check all the information supplied is correct. Having a mortgage broker can also help as they will review information supplied to ensure that it is correct before submitting it to the Lender for approval.

Chain transactions

The most common delay caused to transactions is because they are part of a chain and another party in the chain is not ready to proceed. This could be due to a number of reasons, including the ones already mentioned.

If one party within the chain is unable to proceed then this usually halts the rest of the chain as people will be reliant on their property selling in order to purchase their new one. This particular delay is very common and can be very frustrating for all those involved. It can be even more frustrating and complicated if one party to the chain decides to withdraw completely, this can cause the entire chain to collapse.

Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done by either party in this situation. Communication between the parties and their conveyancers is of course the most important key to keeping informed. The conveyancers will be in touch with the other parties’ conveyancers along the chain and will be receiving regular updates from them. The only realistic way to avoid this type of delay from happening is to avoid getting involved in a chain transaction in the first place, however, when the right house has been found, sometimes being a party of a chain is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Preparation in advance for this delay is useful and being kept regularly updated can ease the mounting stress and frustrations in these particular type of situations.

Whatever the delay may be, we do our best to avoid them and to keep you regularly updated throughout the process. Should you wish to use us for your conveyancing transaction please do contact us, we will be more than happy to help.

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