Throughout the process of home buying, one thing stands true: it’s all about the details.
Regardless of whether you’re looking to buy an apartment, a mansion, or a summer home, you will need to go through dozens of challenges before you can call a property your own. From choosing a mortgage provider to negotiating a final price, buying real estate can be quite challenging, to say the least.
Out of everything you’ll need to take into consideration during the home buying process, there’s one you’ll need to give its due attention: conveyancing.
What is Conveyancing?
Conveyancing, to put it simply, is the process of transferring the legal title of real property from one party (the seller) to another (the buyer). It can also be viewed as the process of granting a mortgage to an interested homebuyer.
In most cases, this process can be broken up into two separate phases, both requiring cooperation between buyer and seller. The first step begins with an exchange of contracts that outline equitable interests—an agreement for an exchange of cash and property. When a deal is mutually agreed upon, the latter phase of completion (or settlement, as it is called) is undertaken to finalize the deal and transfer the legal titles and the equitable rights.
Conveyancing plays a crucial role in the world of real estate because it protects the interests of both parties, keeping them accountable for their end of the deal. Property buyers are obligated to ensure they have the means to obtain a marketable and legitimate title of a piece of land, which, in turn, the seller is obligated to verify they currently own.
While a property buyer does not necessarily have to hire a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer in the UK, doing so is very much encouraged because aside from all the time and documentation involved, one mistake can set you back considerably. To reach a deal as soon as possible while avoiding financial and legal complications, it’s best to seek professional assistance.
A Bigger Question at Hand
The importance of the conveyancing process is indisputable as it protects all parties and ensures the deal is made as seamlessly as possible. Yet, there’s one question that prospective homebuyers ask time and time again:
How long does the conveyancing process take?
Aside from the application and search processes, conveyancing is regarded as one of the lengthiest parts of the entire purchasing experience because of the many processes it encompasses.
On average, the entire home conveyancing process can take anywhere between 10 to 12 weeks. Many conveyancing solicitors are unable to say exactly how long their processes will take because of the many factors simply beyond their control.
What most homebuyers fail to understand is that the conveyancing process, by nature, is lengthy. Given the many complexities it involves, there is no way to know exactly how long it will take to complete.
Why is the Conveyancing Process so Lengthy?
The conveyancing process involves many steps and a hold-up at any one of them could put the whole deal on pause while it is sorted out. While the estimated duration can vary from home to home or provider to provider, there are a few common causes of delays that can be identified. Below, we will be discussing three in particular.
1. Delays in getting a Mortgage Offer
Lengthy conveyancing processes are often traced back to delays in mortgage offers because these key details are a prerequisite for starting the contract exchange.
Such delays are usually caused by overconfident buyers jumping into the process, assuming they will be pre-approved for a mortgage. If you haven’t gotten a proper valuation of the property and don’t have your financing sorted out, then it’s best to wait until your chosen service provider finishes up their risk-analysis checks and passes their formal offer!
2. Issues with a Seller's Title
Another all-too-common problem that can delay conveyancing is complications arising from a seller’s title. Transferring a property title will take much longer than anticipated if the initial paperwork isn’t in order as they will need to be remedied prior to the exchange.
One such example of this issue is when an authorized representative or next of kin sells a property on behalf of a deceased owner but can’t fully execute the transaction because they don’t have a grant of probate. This issue can also arise if the title of the property you’re looking to buy hasn’t been registered at HM Land Registry, effectively preventing it from being valid for sale and transfer.
If a property of your choice is experiencing such issues with its title, then you’ll have to decide whether the property is worth waiting for or if you’d rather move on to something else.
3. Delays in getting vital information or documentation from third parties
Even if there are no problems arising between the buyer and seller, any third parties involved in the process can cause a significant delay.
As we’ve already mentioned, the conveyancing process is one that involves a significant amount of paperwork in order to be executed as willed. This, in turn, means that a significant period of the process is reliant on forces beyond either party’s control. Buyer’s conveyancing solicitors, for instance, can experience delays because retrieving certain documents (such as NHBC warranties, clearances, or planning consent) can take time. If any third party documentation is held up due to internal issues, the entire conveyancing process can come to a halt.
In the case of leasehold properties, this problem is often persistent because of the complexities that come with retrieving documents from hard-to-reach managing or freeholder agents. Such properties can also experience delays when there are floating costs or fees that must be paid before a document is retrieved. This leads to even more time and money being added on top of the other challenges in the retrieval process!
Delays in retrieving information can largely only be remedied with patience. You’ll either need to wait for the issue to sort itself out or file for a copy at an opportune time.
Throughout the course of the conveyancing process, it is imperative to understand that there are so many factors involved, many of them being beyond any party’s control. Fortunately, such issues can be easily mitigated so long as the necessary steps and precautions are taken and you are working with a reputable conveyancer or solicitor.
If you’re looking to purchase any property, compare conveyancing fees, or retrieve solicitor quotes from reputable SRA-regulated solicitors and licensed conveyancers in the UK, we’ve got you covered. Check out our online conveyancing calculator and get an immediate value to speed up your buying process today!