What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the transfer of the legal title of a property from one person to another. This occurs in 2 stages: exchange of contracts and completion. Exchange is when the deal is fixed as contracts are exchanged. Completion is when the sale is finalised and the legal title passes ownership.
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How long does conveyancing take?
On average, conveyancing takes 12 weeks. However this varies tremendously, with some taking just 4 weeks and some taking much longer due to delays.
Ideally, you want a small chain or no chain at all, because longer chains pose higher risk for delays. Even if you’re lucky enough to not have a chain, there could still be delays though.
Common delays to conveyancing
There are unfortunately a lot of reasons as to why conveyancing can experience delays, sometimes short and sometimes long. Here are a few of the most common ones seen:
- Property title has an issue, which could be missing deeds on an unregistered property
- A leasehold property may need extra information
- The buyer’s mortgage could cause issues, such as incorrect information
- If you’re selling to a cash buyer, they may need to wait for release of funds
- Shared ownership properties can experience delays during buying or selling
- Buying from someone who’s waiting for a new build property to be ready
- Probate sales – the Personal Representative may not have yet received Grant of Probate
- Property searches
- A survey unearthing a problem with a property
The problem with chains
A chain is when there are multiple people relying on each other’s successful property sales before they can complete on their home. For example person 1 is buying person 2’s home, and person 2 is buying person 3’s home. This means that person 2 in the middle of the chain must sell to person 1 successfully before purchasing from person 3. This example is a relatively short chain, sometimes it can be much longer which only increases the risk of it breaking and therefore falling through.
What about if you don’t have a chain?
If, for example, you are a first time buyer and the seller isn’t purchasing an onward property, you won’t have a chain. While this does decrease the risk of the sale falling through as there are only 2 parties involved, there can still be hiccups.
You may have searches carried out in the area and they uncover some things which need looking in to. Or, you may have a building survey completed on the property you want to buy and it throws up a structural issue. This can result in a delay while you negotiate the sale price with the seller to account for the costs of repair.
The delay could be much more simple. The seller could be really relaxed with completing and sending off paperwork, causing continuous delays.
Always agree a completion date which each party wants to meet, then you can all work towards it.
I began writing for Property Press Online in October 2019. Particular areas of interest are housing market news and new developments in the market.