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HELP! It’s taking forever to exchange contracts on our dream property. Is there anything we can do to speed things up?

We are still not moving Why is it taking so long to buy a home?

This was a question from an anxious buyer whose offer was accepted 2 months earlier. They'd done everything expected of them, mortgage offer in place, solicitor instructed, searches paid for and no chain. 

BUT... just when they thought things couldn't get any worse, their solicitor dropped another bombshell - that it would take a further 12-14 weeks to complete - and even then there's no guarantee, as they don't know what searches and other enquiries will turn up. If they do manage to complete in the 12-14 weeks it still takes the total transaction time to approximately 6 months!

What's going on here? What's causing these delays?

As we delved deeper into this particular case it was clear the problem lay with the seller's solicitor. They were not communicating at all with their client, not responding to emails or phone calls and never updating them. They were also taking forever in their dealings with the buyer's solicitor. Progress was being made but it was painfully slow, triggering stress and anxiety in both the buyer and seller.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. We've heard from so many frustrated buyers and sellers and the same issues keep coming up. 

The bigger issue

It is widely reported that many law firms are pricing their conveyancing services way too low in order to win new clients. Some of the figures quoted have been as low as £399 which is rediculously cheap and totally unsustainable. Many of the problems are being blamed on what they call 'factory conveyancers' where it is claimed, cases are being worked on by untrained, unqualified staff. 

There are also small independant law firms who feel there is no other option but to reduce their fees to stay in business. The problem with both these situations, is the only way they can go is to increase the number of cases they take on. There have been reports of individual conveyancers having case loads as high as 150! 

To put it in perspective, for a solicitor/conveyancer to be able to provide a proper service the standard fee needs to be somewhere in the region of £1200 - £1500 and their individual case loads no higher than 60/70. By taking on fewer cases they will be able to dedicate the correct amount of time and expertise required to process your case quickly and provide a higher level of service. 

This fee may sound a lot to buyers and sellers, but to put it into context, it is the equivelant of 2 weeks salary on the current UK average wage which doesn't take into account the professional training and qualifications the solicitor has. Nor that they are dealing with your biggest asset, working in a highly legislated/regulated industry: if they make mistakes they can have massive implications - not just on your current transaction and their business, but in the future when you come to sell your home. It really isn't worth taking the risk!

This 'charge low/pile high' culture has placed a huge burden on conveyancers who are under a lot of pressure to still deliver a decent service. It's an impossible situation and has had a huge impact, not just on the property transaction, but more importantly on the wellbeing of those staff who are over-worked to unacceptable levels. The outcome is a serious decline in staff morale, a rise in mental health issues and a toxic, highly stressful working environment that is causing many conveyancers to leave the profession for good.

What does this mean for buyers and sellers

In terms of their clients (you the buyer and seller) one of the first things to suffer is communication. In the situation above, the conveyancer's priority has to be on getting the work done. This would be impossible if they had to take calls and respond to emails with such a large case load. Imagine it!

There are many stories of solicitors having to introduce policies such as only checking emails once a week so they can prioritise their time to focus on the most important tasks - processing your property sale/purchase.

What can be done to speed up the sale?

Situations like this cause so much stress and anxiety for buyers and sellers that can affect mental health and put a strain on family relationships. It could also cause the deal to collapse which you certainly don't want. To follow are some suggestions as to how a deal like the one in this article can be fast tracked:

  • Offer to pay 50% of the seller's legal bill on the condition they drop their current solicitor and go with one you select. This could be a solicitor at the same firm as you are using, or one they (or someone else you trust) recommends. The seller will have already paid some of their solicitor fees so this will hopefully take the sting out moving to a new one. Make sure to include this condition in the terms emphasising that this is only payable at the end and only if the deal completes.

  • At all costs AVOID hiring solicitors charging a low fee - you get what you pay for and will end up in the same situation as before!

  • Educate yourself on the processes. Understanding what's involved in buying and selling your home, who does what and when, what your own role and responsibilities are will drastically reduce the number of questions to agents and solicitors allowing them to focus on the important stuff. It will also help reduce any stress and anxiety you have because you know what to expect.

Looking to buy or sell your home in the future? You need this book!

The internet is awash with guidance on buying and selling a home, but none go into as much detail as the Homebuyers Secrets. This recently launched book is a MUST HAVE if you want to bag yourself the best deal for the funds you have available. 

Its a comprehensive guide for homemovers covering everything from finding your dream property, negotiating the best price, what you can do to speed up up the transaction, the roles of the professionals, how you can protect yourself from losing out financially should the deal collapse and tons more! It leaves no stone unturned arming you with the information and tools you need so you don't fall prey to many of the risks and pitfalls others have experienced. 


We want to build the biggest network of quality Solicitors, Estate Agents, Lenders, Surveyors, Removals (and other professionals involved in the homemoving process) whose mission is to provide excellent customer service. We want to make it easier for home buyers and sellers to find those quality professionals, communicate with them and if they are buying or selling a home, collaborate with all parties involved in the transaction in one space.

We don't want under-performing professionals in our network. We want to be able to guarantee to the public that whoever they choose on the platform is working to an agreed standard level of service that puts the consumer at the heart. If that's you, we'd love you to join us! All the tools you need to achieve these standards are built into WiggyWam. You don't need fancy tech, there are no integrations needed. Just register, invite your contacts to join and you are good to go! What have you got to lose? 

To find out more and register simply click on the profile type below that best represents you: 

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Friday, 19 April 2024