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Buying a home could be a momentous occasion, but it can also be a stressful and arduous process. Though there can be plenty of delays and negotiations involved, you can do things to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.

Many things could hold up the process, and these things are often out of your conveyancer or estate agent's control. Knowing what the delays are, though, could help you avoid inadvertently causing these. Here are 15 causes of delays in conveyancing, and what you can do to prevent them.

1. Not informing the solicitor that there is an offer

Make sure you hire your conveyancing solicitors soon after or just before you get an offer. Whether you are the buyer or the seller, your estate agent must know right away your solicitor's details so that they can work together as soon as possible.

2. Giving incomplete information on the property

You must furnish or inform all relevant parties of the necessary documents to submit for your type of property. For example, if you are purchasing a leasehold property, your solicitor must obtain the 'memorandum and articles of association' of the management company. They must also get this company's accounts over the past three years.

3. Not including time for permissions in the plan

If you have a lender, your conveyancers must have all the planning permissions and building controls necessary for constructions on the property. This means speaking with local government regulators, getting approvals, and delivering these to the appropriate offices. Even if you have no lender, you must ensure that changes to the property meet local standards and ordinances.

4. People are not in agreement on the timeline

Potential delays can also come from local authorities whose inspections could take days and even weeks. Poor communication can slow down the process and even stall the purchase. To avoid this, be sure you have spoken with all the parties involved about estimated times to reach a milestone. Be sure you deliver promptly on your end, as well.

Also, certain months make it likely for several parties to be on holiday. If you start the process during the summer, over Christmas holidays, or during the Easter season, you might run into this roadblock. Conveyancing firms could also be closed during certain holidays. Consider these when coming up with a timeline for the sale, or speak with the parties involved so you can come up with a reasonable reschedule.

5. Causing delays in returning legal documents

The best thing you can do to prevent a hold up is by reviewing, signing, and returning contracts as quickly as possible. There are various documents that sellers and buyers must exchange, and some even require legal witnesses to authenticate. Delaying by even one day can cause a domino effect and make the entire process so much longer.

6. Not declaring gifted deposits

Conveyancing costs can add up, and sometimes people get help from friends or family. While perfectly fine, you must declare a gifted house deposit to your mortgage provider. A declaration would typically need a signature from the gifter certifying that it is money that does not require payment. A declared gifted deposit will also cause lenders to follow the paper trail, since gifting can be used as a channel for money laundering.

To avoid delays, it is best to inform your solicitor and lender of any gifts intended to help you with the conveyancing.

7. Failing the mortgage affordability interview

New rules about home loans came out in April 2014, which stated that a borrower's ability to secure particular loans relies on their continued and projected ability to afford repayments. This meant stricter mortgage affordability tests, which could take up to three hours.

Though it is challenging to pass these tests, prepare for one by building a consistently stable record of your finances.

8. Delayed mortgage valuations and surveys

Valuations should only take around 15 to 20 minutes to complete; the delays happen because of the time it takes to arrange for the inspections in the first place.

Furthermore, independent surveys initiated by the buyer will also take up time, and after their inspection, a surveyor must also write down their findings. Start looking into a structural survey as soon as a buyer accepts an offer so that you can cut down on the waiting time.

9. Forms have incorrect information

Your mortgage application can get disqualified if you have errors on the forms. Common errors include writing the wrong National Insurance Number, misstating your income, and failing to provide an accurate picture of financial background. Always double-check the information you supply before sending the documents.

10. The mortgage offer expires

An offer for a mortgage lasts anywhere from three to six months. If yours expires before you complete all the necessary legal processes, you would have to reapply for a loan. This, in turn, would cause even more impediments to the conveyancing. While you cannot cause a lender to prevent the mortgage from lapsing, you could hire a skilful solicitor who will act quickly so this does not happen.

11. The title deeds are not on the register

The chain of ownership for a property is reflected in its title deeds. At present, HMLR uses an electronic database for record-keeping, and they no longer have physical title deeds. If you do not have the property on the digital register, you must apply it for first registration. It involves a whole other round of government-related procedures, so before you settle with a buyer, make sure the property is registered.

12. You have not obtained the right certificates

The purchaser's solicitors will always ask for evidence of the installation of replacement glazing. It is part of the requirements for complying with the amended Building Regulations 2002. This compliance is shown through a certificate, which will show that the installer who worked on the project is FENSA-registered or recognised by a similar organisation.

In addition to this, buyers would also want to see safety certificates for gas and electricity before they buy a property. Though the law does not mandate these, obtaining them beforehand is good practice. It will certainly cut down the waiting time should the purchaser ask for the certificates.


There are so many steps involved in facilitating the transfer of properties, and it can be plenty of work getting everything in order. What’s more, delays in the process could happen because of any of the parties. From clashing timelines to incomplete information, you must be aware of all the possible bottlenecks in the conveyancing. Better yet, be proactive—do your best in preventing setbacks, and hire a solicitor who can ensure the same.

Save hundreds of £s in conveyancing quotes and fees; find the best solicitor through Conveyancing Calculator. We help you compare conveyancing fees for various licenced conveyancers in the UK. All of our quotes are from SRA-regulated experts, so you can be sure of their accuracy. Find a solicitor today, or get in touch with us for more information.


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