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Buying a house, why does the conveyancing process take SO long?

We have all heard the horror stories from our family and friends about how long it has taken to finally get a date where they could move into their new home. It’s a stressful process, and not one for the faint-hearted!

So, what exactly makes it so stressful and why does it seem to always take longer than expected?

The short answer is because there are so many different parties involved in the transaction. There is the estate agent, the buyer, the buyer’s bank/lender, the buyer’s solicitor, the seller, the seller’s solicitor, and the seller’s bank. Not to mention several other professional bodies like the local councils supplying the local search and the Land Registry.

A very simple straight-forward freehold purchase, where someone is, let’s say, buying an empty property with cash, could be processed very quickly, in 4-6 weeks. The main hold ups would be waiting for searches to come back, or any final negotiations on the property itself to be agreed. Otherwise, if the communication keeps flowing, the transaction should transpire fairly swiftly.

On the other hand, you could be buying a property that is currently lived in, those buyers can’t move out till the house they are buying completes, etc… This is called a chain. The problem is, all it takes is one person’s property completion to be delayed and it has a knock-on effect to everyone behind them in the transaction. This is the most common delay and unfortunately it is out of your hands, and your solicitors’ hands, to control.

Or you could be buying a property that is Leasehold, if so further paperwork is required and further enquiries are made.  This usually involves a Landlord and Management Company which can again delay matters.

Or you could be buying a New-build property, this involves many more documents needing to be reviewed.

Or you could be buying a property that is in the process of being sold under probate, and if a dispute about the Will arises it can delay the sale of the property.

Or when the searches on the property you are buying are reviewed by your solicitor, we may flag issues or “old” title restrictions that you or the seller weren’t aware of that now need to be legally addressed or prices re-negotiated. Sometimes this can cause communication to break down between the parties which then causes delays. Bear in mind, although it is stressful, getting upset won’t make the transaction happen faster, so trust your solicitor to advise you on how to get the outcome you want.

What are the legal steps to buying a property?

  1. Choose a local conveyancing solicitor, and choose one with a good reputation, not because they are the cheapest. Your home is the most expensive investment, do not cut costs on the person that is there to ensure you know exactly what you are buying!
  2. Meet with your solicitor and complete their new client paperwork to include: a contract to instruct them as your solicitor, proof of your ID, a copy of your mortgage offer and your deposit.
  3. The seller’s solicitor sends your solicitor the Property’s Legal Pack which contains the Contract, property information form, fixtures and fittings form and copies of the Land Registry documents/Title Deeds.
  4. Your solicitor requests relevant searches on the property with the Local Authority to ensure the property doesn’t have any issues with things like planning permissions, drainage issues, environmental issues, or subsidence (if it was in a previous mining area).
  5. If you are buying with a mortgage, your solicitor will receive your mortgage offer from your lender.
  6. Your solicitor reviews all of Property Legal pack, the searches and flags any issues with the seller’s solicitor or your mortgage lender that they feel could cause a problem in the future or devalue the property. If there are issues flagged, the time it takes to complete this step depends on how quickly the seller’s negotiations are received and agreed. Fast and effective communication with all parties involved, is key at this stage to avoid delays!
  7. You meet with your solicitor to go through all the documentation and to sign the paperwork and pay the deposit.
  8. A completion date (moving date) is agreed, and the contracts are exchanged. The buying process is now legally binding, neither party can back out without penalties.
  9. Your lender sends the funds for the mortgage to your solicitor, and you send any further funds required to complete.
  10. On the completion date, your solicitor transfers the purchase money to the Seller’s solicitor, and they send over the transfer document. You can now move into the property!
  11. Within 14 days of the completion, your solicitor pays the Stamp Duty Tax. Your solicitor then applies to the Land Registry to register your ownership with the Land Registry.


Why Hopkins & how we can help

Hopkins are a law firm with a highly regarded local reputation and we have one of the highest law firm client satisfaction rate in the country. We understand how frustrating and confusing the conveyancing process can be so our legally qualified staff are here to support and guide you clearly through the process.

When it comes to buying a home, we know it’s all about making the purchase go as quickly as possible and being able to plan for the legal costs. Our fees are extremely competitive and also transparent right from the start so you won’t find any hidden and unexpected charges that you haven’t budgeted for.

In addition, we have highly experienced staff on site that can help with other legal aspects that might be tied into your purchase such as first-time buyer schemes, co-habitation agreements for unmarried couples buying a home together, writing or updating your Will to include your new asset or even landlord-tenant agreements if your purchase is a letting investment.

Our online search facilities and automated case management system keep everyone informed through the stages, together. But it’s more than automation. It’s about our personal face-to-face service. You aren’t just a number to us, you are a person, and we want to protect your best interests now and in the future.

In the end it’s about buying your home as quickly and hassle-free as possible.

Try our CONVEYANCING AND TAX FEES CALCULATOR to find out exactly how much you’ll need to budget for, and you won’t be hassled with any pushy sales calls, but you will receive an email with the a full line-by-line breakdown so you understand exactly what you are paying for, and if you gather our competitors quotes… you can make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

Our Conveyaning Team love to help, so don’t hestitate to pick up the phone and give us a ring in Mansfield on 01623 468468 or in Nottingham on 0115 910 5555. 

Or if you don’t have time to chat on the phone, send us your questions using the enquiry form below and someone will respond within 24 hours.


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