How long is too long to go through the process of buying a home? Jessie Hewitson takes a look.

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In an ideal world a freehold sale could complete within six weeks; a leasehold sale takes longer – a minimum of eight to 10 weeks. The current property market is far from ideal, however, for the speedy purchase. It is a market in transition – one that is becoming busier in many places in the country. This has meant solicitors and surveyors are finding themselves stretched and this is causing delays. So how long is too long, what can you do to prevent any hold-ups and how can you speed things up?

Some tips from the experts are here to help:

  • A simple sale with no chain that lasts more than three months could be considered too long. Sales involving chains can take far longer – six months is not uncommon.
  •  “Don’t rely on the agent to do all the communicating” advises estate agent Trevor Abrahmsohn, of Glentree International. If there are issues that need resolving, he suggests arranging a meeting with the other party to discuss things in person. Requests or questions can seem less confrontational when dealt with in person, too.
  • Solicitors, who can appear to have no incentive to act quickly, are one of the biggest causes of frustrations. Best to avoid understaffed, smaller practice, advises Mark Poole, Chiswick branch manager for Felicity J Lord – and don’t go for the cheapest.
  • To try and avoid delays (if you are selling), check all the relevant property searches are up-to-date and the sales process can progress quickly. Make sure you have an agent and solicitor in place – and you’ve communicated your desired time frame – and that your buyer has sorted out their finance. “With a chain, establish a completion date as soon as possible for all parties and try to work that into the negotiations at an early stage,” recommends Annabel Morbey of the Stamford branch of Smiths Gore.
  • If there is a delay, a bad or inexperienced estate agent will often do nothing and wait it out. This is less than ideal. “Where an estate agent can really make a difference here is by chasing this process on and making sure all parties are kept in the loop” says Stephen Binder, associate partner at the Grantham office of Fine & Country. “For example, within 48 hours of emailing a draft contract, call up the solicitor to see if it has been successfully received. Constant maintaining and feedback reduces stress, delays and any confusion in the process. A good estate agent will do this and if there is a problem, they will strive to solve it. They are the oil in the engine.”

Some information contained herein may have changed since it was first published. Zoopla strongly advises you to seek current legal and/or financial advice from a qualified professional.

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