Moving Home: How long will it take?

03 Aug 2015

At Trethowans we expressly inform conveyancers of our target of 4 weeks to an exchange of contracts.

But in general terms, timing depends on several things:

1. The quality of all the conveyancing solicitors

2. The quality of every estate agent

3. How organised and knowledgeable the buyer(s) are

As a result, there is no set timescale to a house move. It can range between days to months, but the reasons why all lie somewhere within the above points.


1. The quality of all the conveyancing solicitors

The quality between conveyancers ranges wildly. Who better to know this than conveyancers themselves. We face different conveyancers on each house sale and purchase, and their quality is immediately obvious.

Never base your decision on how cheap a lawyer says they are. It will then be unlikely they are a qualified lawyer, and more likely they are mediocre, hence their need to advertise how cheap they are, to try and secure incoming work. You really do get what you pay for. Cheap will encourage errors. An error with your house purchase/sale can cost you £000s, even the deal itself can abort, as cheap can and so often does mean slow, mediocre and plodding. Imagine little or no regular communication from your lawyer – how frustrating for you. Not knowing what is going on, or how close to an exchange of contracts you are.

A cheap conveyancer will have to juggle far more clients to still be as profitable, which means they will have less time to spend on your home move, less time to be able to communicate with you, which means your home move will take longer.

How did you select your conveyancer? Was your estate agent paid to refer you to an out of county conveyancer, not because the conveyancers are good, but because of the attraction of the money? Because their head office dictates the estate agent must do this as it brings in extra cash to the agency business? Maybe not even to a solicitor firm, but a large factory style operation – a style of legal business that has grown over the years, a 'one size fits all' approach?

Instead, take charge yourself, and select the very best solicitors firm you can. Of course we would say to use Trethowans, but whatever you decide, make sure they are a Solicitor firm, and that they are Lexcel accredited, and that they have Law Society CQS accreditation. Just ask them. If not, then move on to the next on your list.

A dynamic conveyancing solicitor will be proactive, they will chase and they will get the deal done. They will quickly solve legal issues, they will update you and your estate agent, they will keep the pressure on the slower lawyers. They will know the best tactics to secure search results more quickly, they will even help other lawyers with their legal issues.


2.    The quality of every estate agent

It is a fact. Each estate agent is different. It is not simply about putting an advert on Rightmove. Such an unwise view. That attitude can cost you £000s.

We are pleased that Salisbury have some seriously good estate agents, and we even promote the good ones on our website. We keep adding to the list. Do consider them.

The fact is, the better estate agents do not stop their involvement once they find a buyer. They actually continue to be involved in the legal process too. They trade on their reputation in the community, rather than hiding behind a national brand name. They chase the lawyers, and they help the lawyers with information they find out from the other lawyers in the chain and other parties. And they pass on weekly updates to the buyers and sellers in the chain so you know where you are at. Never a silent week.

Be wary of false promises of 'we will advertise your house in all our national branches', or the estate agents who might pressure potential buyers to use their mortgage adviser (the mortgage adviser paying them a back-hander) before you even get notified about their offer, or those who sign you into using them for far too long, meaning you cannot escape shoddy service.

But it is not just about communication and chasing that can avoid a drawn out home move. Did they do their job right at the point of you accepting an offer. How well did they vet the buyer. Not all buyers are the same. 'A buyer's a buyer.' Wrong. A good estate agent will drill down to help you decide whether the buyer is worth bothering with. Are they a time waster, do they have the money, are they likely to get a mortgage, are they also selling and how long is their chain. All factors to consider. Or did they not care and they just told you to accept the offer – only for you to find out late in the day that they are unable to proceed for the very same reasons that they could have checked weeks earlier

A good estate agent will know the parties to the whole chain, and they will have the ability to contact everyone. Make sure you make it clear to your buyer at the very start what date you want to secure, so you know if your buyer is worth proceeding with….and they in turn can check those same dates with their own buyer (if selling).


3.    How organised and knowledgeable the buyer(s) are

Many buyers are first time. As a result, they may be inexperienced and not understand how buyers should conduct themselves. Do they think they are the most important party, forgetting that there is a chain of people all with requirements, and compromise is often required?

Have they started the mortgage application process early enough, knowing they can even get a mortgage before making an offer, or do they leave this until late into the legal process, storing up delay for everyone?

Are they in rented accommodation, and so do not expect to pay rent and a new mortgage at the same time, and therefore require a gap between exchange and completion of the notice period they have to give to their landlord?

Will they show their inexperience by thinking anything revealed in a survey means the seller has to contribute towards it? Or that they need survey after survey, or do they wait and wait to do a survey storing up later delay.

Staring a mortgage application early for any buyer is crucial, if delay is to be minimised.

In conclusion, a good conveyancer and a good estate agent can guide buyers on the above situations.

At Trethowans our starting point is to secure an exchange of contracts within 4 weeks. We have moved home ourselves and we know what it is like to experience a slow process. As a result, we will be proactive at all times to know why 4 weeks cannot be achieved, pressing for it to still happen, and keeping you informed at every stage.