A previous article already dealt with knowing whether you need a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor. While they may deal with the same field, it can be roughly summed up as the former being well suited for manage with the people side and the latter called upon to deal with the law side.
Conveyancing is a process. Before it is done, there may crop up some problems. Here are some questions that may uncover why the process is taking too long.
Did the buyer pay the deposit on time?
Without a deposit, proceeding with the conveyancing process is a dicey prospect. While one might still have confidence that the deal will push through, the deposit is generally paid when the Contract of Sale is signed. If the contract is signed but the deposit is not paid, which is usually to be held in trust by the real estate intermediary until the full proceeds are paid on a designated date, without even this modicum gesture of trust in the deal it is difficult for conveyancing to proceed.
Inability to fund the sale in a timely manner might be a hint for larger financial difficulties.
Your conveyancing solicitor should be checking often with the realtor and may chase them for updates or the deal may be off.
Is it the payment method that is causing the delay?
There are many options for large money transfers in the UK. Many solicitors and real estate firms use the Clearing House Automated Payments System (CHAPS) which is administered by the Bank of England. However, the associated fees for transfer are relatively high compared to wire transfers or electronic funds transfers. When conducting smaller payments or fulfilling mortgages, the use of CHAPS may be uneconomical or unavailable and some people use slower methods like wire transfers or a cheque, which slow down the process.
Does the buyer have adequate financing?
Related to the above, one of the most common reasons for a delay is the lender taking too long to approve of the buyer’s mortgage. When engaging conveyancing solicitors as a buyer, conveyancers may be able to refer you to reliable and quick mortgage providers that could reduce the risk of delays.
Solicitors can also help you obtain a Mortgage Agreement in Principle which could speed up the process as an example of the source of funds when asked by the agent. They can steer you to lenders which are more likely to accept your financial position, because requesting an AIP involves the lender conducting a hard credit search, and multiple searches over a short period might impact your credit score as lenders would then be able to see previous records. This can make it seem like you are desperate for credit.
Once the offer is accepted and the mortgage is confirmed, the conveyancer can then proceed to handle all that is necessary to push through the sale and coordinate with the other party’s realtors and solicitors.
If financing problems happen to you after the initial Contract of Sale agreement, they may help argue for extensions of the finance date. Banks may, through assorted reasons, also delay giving the approval by the signed date even if the financing has already been granted. The seller needs to be notified or the Contract could be nullified.
Is the seller’s bank not releasing the mortgage in time?
Many sellers have a mortgage on the property that need to be discharged. Your conveyancing solicitor will help arrange things with your bank to facilitate the transfer. The mortgage may be discharged and the Certificate of Title for the property will only be handed over to the buyer once they have paid out the mortgage with the proceeds of the sale. The bank holding the mortgage must be assured that the mortgage can be settled. A buyer that will have a new mortgage on the property will have their lender pay off the remaining mortgage in full.
While generally there is little anyone can do but to wait for financial institutions to complete their tasks, the process can be helped by booking a settlement with all necessary paperwork ready to go. Conveyancing solicitors will be ready to answer the banks involved and deal with any unavailable documentation. Mortgage valuations will face no delays and can move to a physical survey of the property.
Is it taking too long to settle the sale?
When the conveyancing process is all but done and all that is necessary is to hand over the proceeds, there may still be delays related to banks being stalled. Regardless of the reason, if as a seller you are still being made to wait you may be in the right to charge penalty interest. Which would then need to be figured into lending terms.
Did someone try to cut into the sale with a better offer?
Until the conveyancing process is done, the property remains in the hands of the seller. They have the freedom to accept a better deal from a third party. This can be immensely frustrating if you had already started conveyancing with the mindset of the deal being done it has the emotional punch of betrayal. In such circumstances, what can you do?
This is known as ‘gazumping’ and legally there is not much that can be done to prevent this.
You can choose to match the new buyer’s offer, attempt to negotiate a price somewhere in between, or drop out of the sale altogether. Depending on how far down the conveyancing process you are, the seller may be willing to accept a lower offer as you would complete the sale faster instead of being forced to start over with a new buyer and new sequence of banks and solicitors.
Are there uncovered administrative issues with the property?
It is the job of the conveyancer to make the transfer proceed smoothly and to the satisfaction of both parties. Which means that if they uncover any outstanding problems they are doing their due diligence, even if you as the seller may have hired them. Walking away from a bad deal is better than suffering from years of repairs, refits, and/or administrative difficulties.
Similarly, any failures with the considerable amount of paperwork can impact the speed of sale.
If there are any permissions that lacking in the agreement (sub-letting, renovations, conservations, rights of way, etc.) or extra expenses that will be involved in the management of the property (such as service charges, ground rent, insurance and indemnity policies, etc.), it is best to find these out before the deal is done.
Are there issues with the environment and local authorities?
When buying property, conditions around the property are just as important as the property in itself. Among your conveyancer’s many tasks is to conduct searches with local authorities. These searches can uncover valuable information about flooding and mining records, water supply and natural resources, social and environment impacts, and building permissions. How soon these searches can complete may vary from mere days to many weeks.
Interfacing with local authorities is critical to have all necessary planning permissions and building regulations taken in hand before the conveyancing process is complete. Proof needs to be provided that approval had been gained for changing or adapting the property. Covenants may restrict the level of changes that may be done to the property after the fact. There is a duty to make sure that any changes to the property were carried out properly and meet all required standards and regulations.
Are all paperwork and rights in order?
When working for you as a buyer, your conveyancer’s primary concern is verifying that the seller actually does have the right to own and sell the property to you. They work to prove seek out all necessary documentation to transfer all those rights. They will check that the title is true to the land registry, that the deeds exist and can be transferred – if not, then reconstructed. Inheritance, eminent domain, any form of criminal involvement in the acquisition of the property – the seller must prove they have the fullest right to sell the property and that no one can wrest it away after the fact.
If there are any issues or challenges to ownership at all, they must be found.
Is the buyer refusing to settle?
Before the buyer finalizes the purchase by handing over the rest of the promised funds on settlement day, they are encouraged to make a final inspection of the property. If they find any faults that they missed on their previous inspection, they may decide to refuse to pay out the settlement until these problems are addressed.
Note that these faults need to be actual faults instead of nitpicking elements they do not like. Extensive renovations would lead to an increase in the purchase price or should be booked under their own time. Significant health hazards should be taken care of before handing over the property however. Electrical and plumbing repairs are necessary to prevent a dangerous living environment. Structural integrity and home security should also be confidently in good condition.
Your conveyancing solicitor would better be able to convince the buyer why the deal should push through, and if necessary organize an extension from all the other parties involved in the deal (the buyer and seller, realtors, banks, etc.) with full understanding that with the conveyancing process already mostly complete any further delays would earn interest.
If the deal still fails at this juncture, you would be entitled to refunds or compensation for breach of contract.
Are there unwanted conditions in the property different from your initial inspection?
When you signed the Contract of Sale, you conducted an inspection of the property. Now in your final inspection, if you uncover serious differences or flaws and maintenance issues, you do have the right to dispute the condition of the property. This is the valid application of the issue raised above.
Renovations or a renegotiation of the purchase price may be necessary. The uncovering of new troublesome aspects of the property that were missed during the initial inspection is quite a common issue. It is therefore vital to have the help of an experienced conveyancer or solicitor by your side to navigate through each problem as they arise.
Are there any unexpected changes to the property after the contract of sale?
Not flaws per se, but the seller removing items that the buyer may have assumed to be part of the sale. Machinery, furniture, garden features, sheds and other small structures, etc. The seller may be well within the rights to remove items that are not specified in the contract. Changes in paint and decorations, modifications to available space in rooms, and other changes that architectural elements may be less ambiguous and can be challenged.
Once the contract has been signed, it is usually too late to do anything about this. Therefore it is best to have an conveyancing solicitor that can look at the situation with an experienced eye and remind you about what you are due to claim and what might be worth a reduction in the purchase price.
Is it the fault of someone else in the chain?
The conveyancing process involves a chain of many people, and it is not something you can control if there is a delay somewhere. However, it is still helpful to have your conveyancing solicitor monitoring this chain and thereafter inform you immediately if there is a problem. This sort of attention is why it is all but impossible to DIY conveyancing and that their fees are well worth it. A breakdown in the chain of responsibility can be quite costly and time-consuming, and you should ask if this would affect how their conveyancing fees will be charged.
Did you engage with a conveyancing solicitor before even making an offer?
The conveyancing process is long and complex, but your conveyancing solicitor is duty-bound to minimize delays to the transaction and transfer of property. This is why it is best to speak with a conveyancer and have all necessary documents ready to go even before you open negotiations with the property owner. As a seller, you are incentivized to have the sale done quickly.
Choose your conveyancing solicitor wisely. It can mean the difference between a swift and painless deal or an expensive waste of time.