Sellers urged to collate info upfront
Apr 12, 2021
In 2019 it took an average of 14 weeks to complete on a property sale. It now takes 22 weeks and the lockdowns are largely to blame. So, although there is a high demand, particularly for family homes, completed sales are way down year on year.
The latest figures for December and January 2021, show that sales of detached houses are down by a fifth, and sales of flats down by two fifths.
Experts say there are delays, causing a big backlog, thanks to high demand driven by the stamp duty holiday. The single most important activity that sellers could undertake to accelerate the process is to provide relevant information from the get-go.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Beth Rudolf, director of the Conveyancing Association, told listeners: “Up front information is the key. If we can get sellers to collate their information when they decide they’re going to sell, then their buyer, their lender and their valuer has everything they need to review the transaction.
“For example, they could get the searches done themselves and, if they’re selling a flat, they could gather all the leasehold information. Otherwise, conveyancers are in the awful position of having to wait for up to ten different organisations to provide them with the necessary information.”
Sellers must be 'on it' regarding documentation
“it’s an absolute nightmare - 22 weeks is a ridiculously long time – but can be avoided if the seller has been really on top of the documentation needed to review the title and report to the buyer.
“Unfortunately if the valuer hasn’t received the information up front, then they will make assumptions about the valuation, which will be conveyed to the lender. In some cases, conveyancers are in the same boat as everyone else, facing call-hold times of up to 3 hours to get through to some lenders.
“Of course, some lenders are much quicker and they’ve got fantastic online portals, but otherwise you just need one in the chain and you’re all moving as slow as the slowest person.”
The programme spoke with buyer Louis Grey, who had an offer accepted on a London flat in September last year. He is renting so is not in a chain himself, but now we’re in early April and he still has no idea of an exchange or completion date. His mortgage offer ran but his bank has granted him a 15-day grace period. He blames the solicitors as ‘the documentation seems to be taking ages to be supplied or processed’.
Listen to BBC Sounds ‘You and Yours’ programme. The housing market segment starts 30 mins in.