An accepted offer on a home is cause for celebration. But, in many cases, the journey to completion can be longer than you bargained for. Watch out for these 5 most common delays.
1. Management companies being slow in returning information on leasehold properties
If you’re buying a leasehold property (many flats and apartments and even some houses are leasehold), the transaction may be more complicated than buying a freehold property. This is because you are effectively leasing the property from the freeholder for a specific period, rather than owning it.
With this type of purchase, your solicitor will need to obtain information from the freeholder/ and or management company. This includes costs (such as ground rent and monthly service charges), proof of buildings insurance and previous years’ accounts.
There could also be additional checks that need to be carried out.
What can you do?: Make it clear to your solicitor from the outset that you are buying a leasehold home. Give the freeholder or management company prior warning it will need to provide this information.
2. Buyers failing to disclose their mortgage deposit has been gifted
Whether it’s 5%, 50% or any other amount, a mortgage lender will want to know where your deposit is coming from. If all, or even part of it, is a gift – from your parents, say – your solicitor must declare this to the bank or building society. And this means you need to declare it to your solicitor.
Most lenders will require a signature from the source of the deposit, confirming the money does not need to be repaid.
What can you do? Make sure you give your solicitor clear and accurate information about your deposit at the very start of the conveyancing process. Warn the gifting party they’ll need to sign a letter and potentially provide ID.
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3. Delays from third parties in providing answers to outstanding enquiries
Your solicitor will go through all the paperwork from the sellers, and raise a number of queries with their solicitor. These could be anything from how to resolve a problem exposed by the survey to a discrepancy on the property deeds.
Hold-ups can occur if the third parties required to provide this information are operating on different time-scales. And, even if they are moving fast, particularly complex issues can take weeks to resolve.
What can you do?: Keep in regular contact with your solicitor and be patient – they are required to follow a code of conduct and getting these checks done thoroughly is crucial.
4. Local authorities dragging their feet in returning searches
Local authority searches are carried out to uncover potential issues that could affect the home you are purchasing, such as nearby planned development or tree preservation orders. Separate Environmental and Water searches, which flag problems like risk of flooding, will also be carried out.
Some local authorities will return these searches within a few days, but others could take several weeks.
What can you do?: Lodge funds for the searches with your solicitor straight away and request they are carried out as early as possible to reduce risk of delays.
5. Slow or under-resourced solicitors
Even if you have an efficient and dedicated solicitor working on your property purchase, this is unlikely to be the case for every other party in the chain. They can often be busy with other transactions or, especially during the summer or Christmas holidays, could simply be under-staffed.
This can cause hold-ups which can significantly slow down the time it takes to completion.
The fact is, you can only ever move as quickly as the slowest party in the chain.
What can you do?: Reply promptly to queries or requests for documentation yourself and, if you have to chase other parties in the chain, make a note of what was said. Get an estimated timeline from your solicitor upfront and, if possible, avoid holiday season.