As the government consults on how to reduce the time taken to reach exchange of contracts in conveyancing transactions, what can you do as a seller or purchaser to speed up the conveyancing process?

The Government’s Call for Evidence, ending on 17th December 2017, has asked for feedback on a number of points, including how to:

  • Help consumers make more informed decisions when selecting a conveyancer.
  • Make improvements to the processing of property searches in order to speed up the selling and buying of homes.

with the possible benefits of:

  • Encouraging sellers and buyers to use the same firm (subject to conflict of interest).
  • Creating a ‘Property Passport’ or similar (but not a relaunch of the home information packs) and a better use of e-conveyancing and digital technology.
  • The introduction of a ‘How to Buy/Sell’ guide.

Conveyancing transactions are commonly delayed due to:

  • Defective title/lease – for example an old lease or a right/restriction on a title may be unacceptable for buyers or their lenders today.
  • An incomplete chain – you may have found your dream home but your sellers may not have found theirs yet.
  • Lease extensions simultaneous with a sale – there are many different routes to extend your lease and most take time due to the additional correspondence with the Landlord (or their solicitor) and considerations as to funding the lease extension. Any purchaser will also want to ensure that the terms of the extended lease are acceptable to them, and so will any lender.

So what can sellers and buyers do to speed up the conveyancing process? Here is a brief checklist:

  • Make sure the admin is done – provide your ID, sign the authorisation to commence work and confirm all of your details and provide all paperwork you hold in relation to the property as soon as possible.
  • If you are buying and selling, wherever possible, use the same solicitor for the sale and purchase. Having two solicitors to deal with increases the time, correspondence and time taken to transfer documents and funds on related transactions.
  • When selling a property complete and return your Property Information Forms and supporting documents to your solicitor, even before you have accepted an offer.
  • Buyers should confirm how they are funding their purchase and obtain an offer in principle as soon as possible. If funds are coming from another source, such as a Help to Buy Scheme or family member, provide as much detail as possible to your solicitor at the outset of the transaction.