>Why does conveyancing take so long

On average the conveyancing period from an offer being accepted to exchange and completion takes about 56 days!!

However, a recent survey has shown that the average sale is taking 15 weeks (105 days) from when a sale is agreed until completion takes place.

Why does conveyancing take so long?

For many reasons the most common one is that either the buyer or seller, or their legal representatives, take their time responding to enquiries. Other common reasons for delays to the conveyancing process are; looking to instruct a solicitor, gazumping, a sale falling through because the property was down valued or a broken property chain.

The conveyancing process in England and Wales, once a sale has been accepted is one of the slowest in the world which has made it fraught with the problems associated above.

There are approx. 30% of home sales in England falling through and sometimes even at the point of exchange - when people have put time, effort and their heart into buying / selling a property.

Does the Government really need to reform the house-buying process?

I don't think the government in its entirety need to step in, its more the industry that needs to get its house in order, there are many issues with the conveyancing process that can be resolved by conveyancers, industry suppliers and developments in technology. A top-down strategy has failed us in recent times: the failed implementation of HIPS along with SDLT reform has spread doubt of this approach among many in the industry.

It would be better for such professional bodies as The Law Society, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, National Association of Estate Agents and the government, to get together and find a better system. Much of the work we have to do as agents is chasing solicitors and mortgage providers. One piece of advice to all vendors and purchasers is to use a local solicitor. If you think a large conveyancing company or those online conveyancers nationwide will do better, think again or at least read their reviews on google.

Much of the difficulty is our plainly daft system of ‘Subject to Contract’ meaning that when we agree a sale either the vendor or purchaser can pull out at any point prior to contracts being exchanged. In this day and age, surely a better system can be found.  In South Australia, the system there is much better, first sort your finance, check the title, then sign an offer form. If the offer is accepted, you have 48 hours to change your mind. After that it is binding on both seller and buyer, lawyers do the rest!

If our process were far simpler, people would move more often - countless times I have heard the comment, ‘I never want to move again, because the process was so stressful.’ 

These type of comments aren't so much about the structure of the house-buying process, but more about the practical side of things and relationship between; buyers, sellers, conveyancers and estate agents in a client or customer facing business.

Conveyancers and for that matter anyone involved in client or customer facing business, should understand the importance of communication, yet poor communication between conveyancers and their clients continues to drive customer dissatisfaction in the property sector. Although reformers and critics of the system focus on gazumping, polls have found that almost a quarter of UK consumers blame a lack of effective communication between lawyers, lenders and estate agents for collapsed house sales.

Why do buyers and sellers place so much value on communication?

The purchase of a house is likely to be the largest financial commitment of their lives and it simply has to go right - timing can be critical - consumers are naturally anxious and they want to know exactly what is happening at each stage of the transaction.

Keeping clients updated on the progress of their purchase doesn’t just benefit consumers. A satisfied customer can save time for solicitors, because they don’t need to spend so much time reacting to queries. The most efficient conveyancers are those proactively communicating with clients rather than waiting to be called or chased by them.

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