How long does conveyancing take?
How long is a piece of string? The average time between
agreeing sale and completion is 6 -10 weeks, however there are a variety of
potential delays along the way. Let’s discuss a few:
A “chain” is where the purchase of a property is dependent
on the sale of an existing property. At the start of the chain will be a first-time
buyer and at the end someone only selling. Everyone in between will have a sale
and a purchase. As a result, there are lots of transactions to co-ordinate. One
party cannot exchange until everyone is ready. Inevitably this causes delays.
If buying with a mortgage, after the lenders valuation has
taken place and they are satisfied as to all other matters in connection with
your mortgage application your lender will issue a mortgage offer. Your lender
will send a copy to you and your solicitor together with a list of instructions
which your solicitor will have to comply with.
Many mortgages state the bank must be given seven working
days to release funds. This means seven working days between exchange and
completion. If you’re in a chain you must wait for the slowest party!
There are 4 core searches that will need to be ordered.
These are Water and Drainage, Environmental, Chancel check and Local Authority.
We will discuss what each of these mean later in the blog.
At this point it is just worth noting that these can be a cause of delay. The
Water, Environmental and Chancel tend to come back within a few days. This is
not a hard and fast rule, but if you’re lucky they will not take too long.
Local Authority searches tend to take more time. This is
because the searches, as you may have guessed, are carried out by the local
authority who have varying backlogs and efficiency. If your unlucky, these can
take up to three weeks- it’s a bit of a lottery.
Once the initial searches are received back, in some cases
further searches are required. Yes, that means more delays, but it’s better
than spending your savings on a defective property!
Housing/management companies and management packs
A housing company is a legal entity which owns real estate,
consisting of one or more residential buildings. These are usually only
relevant when purchasing leasehold properties. As with Local Authority
searches, certain housing companies are more efficient than others. Some
companies have huge backlogs and can take weeks to provide a management pack,
while others will take a matter of days.
Before exchanging contracts, you will need to obtain a
management pack from the housing company. The pack contains crucial information
about the property and can influence your decision whether to go ahead with the
purchase or not.
The management pack will be read in conjunction with the
lease. Important things your conveyancer will look out for:
Service charges- The pack contains info on the service
charge for the property. We will look out for increases over a period, any
unusual expenses, or whether there are any arrears. These can be settled on
Major works- Are there any upcoming major works, and how
much will you as tenant have to pay. Examples of works could be roof repairs or
lifts refurbishment. All tenants will be obligated to pay a contribution on
Deed of covenant- By entering into a deed of covenant, the
new tenant enters an agreement with the landlord to observe all provisions of
A common phrase you will hear in conveyancing is “we’re
waiting for the other side”. This means we have everything in order but cannot
proceed until the other side have replied/supplied/ responded to something. In
an ideal world emails would be replied to instantly, documents signed and
returned within a day and phone calls answered. In the busy world of
conveyancing sometimes this is not the case.
Sometimes the other party involved will not be able to sign
documents as quickly as you would like. The solicitor may be from a small firm
and have a huge workload slowing things down. The fact is when the other side is being
unresponsive all you can do is hassle or “chase” them to provide what’s needed.