Financial & Legal News

What causes delays when moving house

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Throughout the year we have clients eager to move house especially in or around Bank Holidays, however sometimes delays can be caused and all sides in a move often feel frustrated wondering what causes them.

Spring is a busy time for residential conveyancers as all those Christmas searches and New Year new starts come to fruition and it’s about now that we are going into the final stages of completion on many properties.  For others, the Easter break is a great time to start property searching.

Data from Zoopla showed the housing market is on track to reach 1.1m transactions this year and property in the North of England is expected to continue to rise in value, so it’s a competitive and busy market right now.

“We give clients realistic timetables for their property move and have a portal they can log into to check progress on a daily basis if they wish to do so, we find this obviously not only keeps them informed, but it eases any worries,” said Hajirah Zia, a trainee solicitor in our property department.

Delays in moving house

However, delays can and do happen and here Hajirah explains some of the reasons.

Conveyancing is the legal process involved when ownership of a property is transferred from the seller to the buyer, from the offer being accepted, until completion of the sale. When there are delays it can be because:

  • In the majority of cases, it is when there is a chain that’s not ready – in a recent transaction we were ready but at the bottom of the chain we had to sit tight and keep chasing.
  • Mortgage offers expiring – not usually an issue for us as we keep an eye on our client’s offers and have tasks in place to ensure we don’t miss expiry dates, but it has happened where someone in the chain’s mortgage offer has expired which sets us all back.
  • Lack of planning permission or building regulation documents – then we need to seek indemnity policies – we have good relationships with indemnity providers and can almost instantly obtain a policy to suit most needs.
  • Missing paperwork – we accept electronically signed documents e.g. DocuSign to get things over the line faster – not all firms do this so there will be hold ups.
  • Delays with the bank – when sending large amounts payments can sometimes be held up for security checks – this is out of our control, but we do aim to get completions done earlier in the day just in case it does take longer for payments to go through.
  • Redemption statements – other parties waiting on redemption statements commonly cause delays in completion. When we know there is a charge on the property, we will obtain a redemption statement at the outset of the transaction just so we are comfortable with the procedure of obtaining one and get an understanding of timescales, so when it comes to completion, we know how early to request one to ensure that we have everything in line for the day.

“There are also obviously situations where unforeseen things occur which are completely out of our control, for example the death of someone in the chain, but I would say the main cause of delay is the chain.  It is a unique situation because the whole transaction can only move forward once the whole chain is able to move forward, so you do find yourself waiting around for others,” said Hajirah.

“If you are looking to buy or sell it may be worth establishing if there is a chain and how big it is at the outset so you can manage your own expectations.”

Advice when selling or buying a house

To first time buyers it can seem a complicated and lengthy process, with new terminology and a lot of different steps and stages, so it is a good idea to do some research.

Firstly, whether buying or selling you need to find a qualified solicitor, ask for prices in advance and make sure everything is included, look at reviews and ask friends and family for advice and recommendations.

A recent poll by the HomeOwners Alliance of 2,000 people found that 75% were satisfied with the service they received from their conveyancer they used, and 74% would use the same firm again.

It’s important to look at reviews and ask for recommendations from family and friends and 21% of those polled had done so.

Secondly it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with how the conveyancing process works.

Conveyancing process for buying a house

If you’re buying a house your solicitor will send initial forms for you to complete, including identification requirements.  Your house is probably the largest purchase you will ever make so it pays to not scrimp on conveyancing, it’s vital to have a specialist solicitor dealing with this for you.

Your solicitor will request the contract from your seller’s solicitor and details of your mortgage should be passed to your solicitor.

Your solicitor will also request a copy of the Land Registry title for the property.  The next step is to obtain searches, which is an essential part of the Conveyancing process, to ensure the property is not adversely affected by anything. These include an environmental search, local authority searches, a water and drainage search and Land Registry searches.

Once this is all checked over an exchange of contracts and completion date can be agreed upon.  The contract will be signed by both parties and your solicitor will request the mortgage funds from the lender, if applicable.  From this date both you and your seller are legally obliged to buy/sell the property.

Getting your keys is the exciting bit, but just before completion, your solicitor has to carry out the final searches and lodge an interest in the property with the Land Registry. Then finally when all outstanding monies are transferred to the seller’s solicitor the house is yours to enjoy and the title and transfer deeds are forwarded to your solicitor and the house is registered in your name.

Conveyancing process for selling a house

When selling your home and putting it on the market inform your solicitor in advance, if you can get as much done at this time it can help to speed up the process so that once an offer is accepted the contract can be sent out quickly.

Your solicitor will need proof of identity and address. You will need to complete a fitting and contents form (TA10), a property information form (TA6) and any other legal requirements your solicitor should talk through with you, such as title deeds for the property being requested from the Land Registry, if they are not paper deeds.

Your solicitor will draw up a final version of the contract and once this is agreed upon and signed by the seller and buyer you both have legal obligations, as the seller you have until the completion date to vacate the property. On this agreed date any monies will be transferred to your solicitor, and they will forward the title and transfer deeds to the buyer’s solicitor.

“As with anything it pays to be prepared and organised, anything a client can do to speed up the process helps and we have produced an easy guide for clients to make moving day as smooth as possible,” said Hajirah.

How can we help?

For legal advice on buying or selling a property contact our experienced Conveyancing Solicitors on 0161 785 3500 or email

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

Written by Hajirah Zia


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