Ask a residential property solicitor – why does conveyancing take so long?
A residential property solicitor takes care of everything you need to do to buy or sell a property on the legal side of things.
This is a process called “conveyancing”. For this reason, you’ll often see them referred to as “conveyancing solicitors”.
If you’ve never bought a property before, it can be a stressful time. Because the conveyancing process can take anywhere from eight to twelve weeks to complete.
It’s often difficult to understand why this is. After all, how hard it can be?
“We were quite happy with the service you provided. With being local, we were able to visit whenever necessary, which we appreciate, and all phone calls were dealt with by yourselves in a friendly and helpful manner.”
(Mr & Mrs V – Property transaction)
Let’s take a look at some of the key tasks your residential property solicitor will need to undertake on your behalf. And how they can end up taking longer than you might expect…
What Does A Residential Property Solicitor Do?
The following is by no means an exhaustive list of all the jobs your solicitor handles during the conveyancing process. These are merely some of those that can end up taking more time:
1) Complete Property Searches When You’re Buying
Conveyancing searches are fact-finding enquiries to the Local Authority, water authority, and sometimes dozens of other organisations. The aim is to find out more about the property you want to purchase.
Are there any major developments planned in the local area? Is it connected to the local mains water supply? Is there a sewage main under the property? Was historic mining work done in the area? Are there any disputes relating to the property?
All of these questions and many more will be answered by a successful round of property searches.
As you might imagine though, liaising with potentially dozens of different organisations takes time. Some don’t respond as quickly as we all might like. Local Authorities, for instance, are often overworked and can take a solid two months to respond in the worst cases.
There are also many times when the results of searches indicate major issues. What if the local council are building a new bypass near the property? What if the land is contaminated? These need to be resolved before the sale proceeds.
2) Deal With The Land Registry
The Land Registry is responsible for maintaining lists of who owns what property in Wales and England. If your name is on a property title and registered with the Land Registry, your proof of ownership is automatic as far as the UK government is concerned.
Your solicitor liaises with the Land Registry many times as part of the conveyancing process. Not only does this potentially take time, but they may also find there is a problem with the property title when they do.
Perhaps the title was previously a bunch of paper documents and hasn’t yet been officially registered (this has only happened automatically since 1990). Perhaps the name of the owner doesn’t match the name of the seller for some reason.
Any issues like this can cause the conveyancing process to take longer than expected.
3) Leasehold Property Checks
It was estimated a few years ago that around 20% of UK properties are owned on a leasehold basis. This means a person (the leaseholder) owns usually a part of a property (for example, a flat) in a larger building owned by someone else (called the freeholder).
In recent years though, ownership of leasehold properties has skyrocketed as more flats have been built and more developers have spotted a way to extract more value from their investment (leaseholders pay certain fees to their freeholder as part of their lease).
Because more parties are involved, checks and searches on a leasehold property take longer. You don’t want your conveyancing solicitor to skip these though. What if there is an outstanding sum owed to the freeholder by the previous leaseholder of your intended property, for example?
The details of the lease also need to be investigated in detail and their ramifications understood and explained to you. For instance, are the service charges unreasonable? Is your freeholder planning property improvements next year that they expect you to chip in for?
This can all extend the conveyancing process. If you’re not happy with what your solicitor finds, it can extend it further.
4) Negotiate Contracts
Another key role your solicitor plays is negotiating the contract with the solicitor representing the buyer or seller.
There are many individual steps involved in this. Checking the contract and supporting documentation as the buyer’s solicitor. Creating the contract pack and answering any pre-contract enquiries as the seller’s solicitor.
If there are any issues to work through, this can obviously add to the conveyancing process.
5) Deal With The Unexpected
Finally, some things are outside of your residential property solicitor’s control. However, they may still have to handle:
- Common problems relating to a “chain” of property sales all relying on each other
- Problems with the buyer failing to get a mortgage on time
- The seller’s property being a new build that isn’t finished on time
- It being a probate property (that can’t be sold until probate is granted)
- Difficulty agreeing on a final price or completion or move dates
Find Good Residential Property Solicitors Near Me
This is all to show why the best residential property solicitors are the ones who keep in touch with you throughout the process.
For over a century, when local people in Shotton, Connah’s Quay, Queensferry, Ewloe, Hawarden and Buckley have needed this kind of conveyancing solicitor, they’ve relied on E A Harris.
Get In Touch Today.
“Great service, competitive prices handling the purchase of my house in great time keeping me informed every step of the way.