Skip to main content

How to avoid property conveyancing issues

Share this story

Recently many people have voiced concern over the growing length of time it takes to exchange contracts after an offer is accepted. The conveyancing process requires due diligence and care, but many professionals in the industry are suggesting that the timeframe to get a property purchase over the line is becoming increasingly slow. This is often down to companies taking on too much work and not having the staff, knowledge or experience to cope.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is an area of the law that deals exclusively with buying or selling property. Literally, it is to convey a property from one owner to another. Thus, a solicitor or conveyancer is someone who works as your legal representative to help you buy or sell a property. Most solicitor firms have specialist conveyancing solicitors working within them.

Your conveyancer carries out many important checks when buying property to ensure that you’re making an informed purchase regarding the property and the land it’s on. Your conveyancer will work with the conveyancer of the other party to agree on the terms of the contract of sale and to finalise the transaction, including registering the new ownership.

Estate agents recognise conveyancing inefficiency

Propertymark recently published data suggesting more estate agents were becoming alarmed at a slowing down of the conveyancing process. Out of all estate agents surveyed, 41% stated that, in their view, the average length of time from having an offer accepted to an exchange of contracts was more than four months. It’s understood that there has been a notable slowing down compared to conveyancing in the pre-pandemic property market.

How to avoid conveyancing issues

Buying and selling a property can be stressful, so having a supportive, responsive and efficient conveyancer is highly desirable. Most conveyancing issues are related to inefficiency and delays rather than issues with the final outcome.

Here are some of the most common delays and how to avoid them:

#1: Starting slow

One of the biggest mistakes that slow down conveyancing is not being prepared for the offer to be accepted. Whether you’re the buyer or seller, you should have a conveyancer lined up and ready to take over immediately. This requires you to do your research and look for the conveyancer you want to use before you either accept or get an offer accepted. Ask a few local estate agents who they recommend for service and speed, don’t be misled by price or one person’s experiences.

Most conveyancers have a preliminary client form to collect prerequisite information before they can begin working on your behalf. You should aim to have instructed your conveyancer and be a step ahead with the paperwork completed before the offer is accepted.

#2: Consider private searches

Local authorities can slow down the process by taking longer than usual to process various property search requests from your conveyancer. The likelihood of this will depend on the type and number of searches your conveyancer needs to carry out, as well as the local authority. Some local authorities will be busier than others.

One possible solution to this delay is to use a private search company instead of the local authority. Some companies can complete the search much quicker and just as accurately, but their services will come at an additional cost.

#3: Niche legal issues

The transaction might not be as straightforward as you imagined. Search results and title deeds could throw up all types of issues, such as planning consent problems or easements relating to access, management issues or lease defects.

A competent and experienced conveyancer will typically handle niche legal problems within the process more efficiently. Thus, it’s not beneficial to choose the cheapest conveyancer. You may want to spend a bit more to get the job done quicker. Look for recommendations in the local area. A local solicitor company is more likely to know the local area than one outside the town.

Search for a property