When you’re buying or selling a home, there are several factors that can contribute to the length of time it takes for the sale or purchase to complete. With so many variables, it can be impossible to know for certain how long any transaction will take.
We’ve outlined some of the most common causes of delays in the Conveyancing process when buying or selling a property.
Problems with the Title
You probably know that Conveyancing is the legal term used to describe the transfer in ownership of a property, but did you know that there are two conveyancing systems in England and Wales? There’s one for registered properties and one for unregistered properties.
If the property has not been registered with HM Land Registry, then this is known as an Unregistered Title. Unregistered Title ownership will need to be proved by possession of the original title Deeds.
If the property is registered with HM Land Registry, this is known as a Registered Title. The registered title can be proved by obtaining the office copy of the title from the Land Registry. Since 1990 all property transactions have been registered by HM Land Registry, so many (but not all) properties are now registered.
If the property is unregistered and the deeds are lost then significant time will need to be taken to prove who owns the property to the Land Registry. This delays the transaction from the outset.
Leasehold properties are those where the land is not owned by the Tenant/Lessee property owner, but instead by a landlord. The property owner Tenant/Lessee leases the land and pays a ground rent to the landlord. Most flats (and some houses) are leasehold.
If a property is leasehold, and therefore a landlord is involved, then this can affect the timescale for Conveyancing. The landlord may employ agents or a management company to manage the property. Most information provided by a landlord or their agent is charged for. Your Conveyancer will need to find out how much it costs, check you’re happy to pay those fees, pay for it and then wait for the response.
There is no legal requirement for a landlord or their agent to respond within a specific time so your transaction is somewhat dictated by how organised the landlord or their agent is.
Shared ownership schemes allow a buyer to secure a mortgage and buy shares in a property while also paying rent on the remaining shares, which are owned by a housing association. There are a lot of rules and regulations that govern Shared Ownership, including who can buy the property and how it can be sold. In addition, Shared Ownership properties are typically leasehold (see above), which can further delay the transaction.
Buying with a Mortgage
Obtaining a mortgage in principle (AIP) is relatively straightforward, a lender/bank will agree to lend based on the initial figures you provide. You then need to prove all of the figures and make sure the information provided is accurate. Mistakes on mortgage applications can lead to a disqualified application at worst or a delay in processing at best. Since 2014 new rules came into play which make it tougher to obtain a mortgage, while also lengthening the process.
In addition a lender will insist on a survey being conducted on the property. If there are delays in gaining access to the property and it takes a long time for the surveyor to produce their report, this will mean it takes longer to obtain your mortgage offer. If a survey reveals a problem with the property this may lead to the lender insisting on works being completed, or a re-negotiation on price between the seller and the buyer.
There may also be other issues that arise, such as a lack of planning permission for building work that has been carried out. A lender will insist that all permission and consents are obtained before making the mortgage offer.
Mortgage offers last for a set period of time. If the transaction fails to complete before the offer expires that another mortgage will need to be applied for and this will lengthen the process.
When buying a property you want to know about all the matters affecting the use of that property. Part of that process is to obtain property searches from local authorities and other companies, such as water authorities. It can be a postcode lottery as to which companies or local authorities respond quickly and which do not; some can take weeks to provide the search results.
Chain of Transactions
If a seller needs the money from the sale of the property in order to buy another, a chain of transactions has already begun. If there are several people involved in a chain, they will likely have different timescales for when they would like to complete. To agree a date that suits everyone, negotiation has to take place. This can mean compromising, and agreeing a completion date later than you had originally wanted.
Also if one person in the chain pulls out, the entire chain can collapse and there is nothing your conveyancer can do about it.
At Co-op Legal Services we can provide some of the cheapest conveyancing fees available in the UK.