9th Oct 2020

Keeping conveyancing moving

Are you trying to move home and wondering why there's a delay?

Following the release of the country from lockdown a few weeks ago, the residential property market leapt into action with people desperate to move, some having had to wait for many months.  That's meant that all the professionals involved in house moving, solicitors, mortgage lenders and local councils in particular, have suddenly become inundated with work and some have been ill-prepared to deal with the surge of instructions.

Harrogate district appears to be suffering more than many other parts of the country with local searches being quoted as taking 35 working days to process – that's at least seven weeks.  Prior to lockdown they were being processed in a week and this has had a huge effect on how quickly a chain of transactions can move.  Interestingly, my residents' newsletter from Harrogate Borough Council this week quoted a turnaround of 24 days; as we and our clients know that's extremely optimistic and is just not happening at the moment; an estimate of 8-10 weeks is the current norm.

Mortgage lenders are also being blamed for delays, with mortgage offers taking longer than normal to be issued.  Certainly, as solicitors we're finding that it's more difficult to get information from some lenders with telephones and emails not being answered – discouraging for both us and our clients.

It's an extremely frustrating time for everybody involved in a house move.  As time goes on, people are becoming concered at completing a purchase before the end of the Stamp Duty Land Tax “holiday” on 31 March 2021.  Obviously, local searches are not taking anything like that length of time – it is still 6 months to the end of the holiday – but if you lose the seller or buyer that  you've got now, the clock will be ticking on.

So what can you as a client do to mitigate the delays?  There's nothing you can do about how long the local search will take but we do have a couple of suggestions of things you can do to help speed up the home moving process:-

  • Communication is key.  We will and do liaise constantly with other parties in the chain, often “behind the scenes” so that at any time we're aware of our clients' hopes and wishes and whether these are realistic in the current climate.  It's not our job to dash your expectations but to do our utmost to meet them.
  • Instruct your solicitor before you have found a property to buy or a buyer for your property.  When you instruct your solicitor you'll be asked to pay an amount of money on account to cover the costs of the searches.  What you may not be aware of is that since February this year solicitors cannot accept any money whatsoever from our clients without first conducting what's called “due diligence”.  That means that we have to see you (and both or all of you if there's more than one buyer or seller) with evidence of your identity and address so the sooner we can get those preliminary matters dealt with the better position we will be in to order the searches as soon as you find your new home and we receive a draft contract or, if you're selling, to send a draft contract to your buyer's solicitors so that they can order their searches quickly.
  • Speak to your mortgage adviser or lender and look at getting a mortgage agreed in principle. It won't allow you to exchange contracts for your purchase but again, it might speed up the process of applying for a mortgage when you find your new home if all the lender has to do is arrange for the property to be valued.

At Berwins we will always do our utmost to fit in with our clients' wishes so far as timescales are concerned and although we can't wave a magic wand we will work with you to achieve your completion date.  We are well prepared and have the technology and the experienced staff to use it to be able to deal with these unusual circumstances

If you have any questions, just email us or speak to any member of the Residential Property Team.

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