Conveyancing – How long will it take?

‘Conveyancing’ is the legal process involved in buying or selling property and currently the average time for this process is about 12 weeks – although it can take less and very often, frustratingly, longer.

Most sellers and buyers want to complete the sale or purchase as quickly as possible so it’s useful to know how the delays creep in and what, if anything, can be done to make it less frustrating.

One of the first areas where delays can occur is in the preparation for the transaction – deciding which conveyancer to use, providing identification documentation, complying with the regulatory requirements & completing the forms that will be needed to progress your sale. If you are selling, try to collect together all the paperwork that will need to be produced such as FENSA certificates for windows, guarantees, planning documents, boiler service evidence etc. It’s not unusual for two weeks to be lost on this when it is possible to get all of this done before a buyer is found or before you have agreed a purchase. So, if you instruct a conveyancer at an early stage all this can be dealt with & a contract pack can be ready to be issued within a few days of negotiating a sale.

On a purchase, whilst progress isn’t possible until the contract pack is received, one of the first things the conveyancer will do is to submit searches. They will need money on account for this & they will normally take 2-4 weeks to come back. Any delay in paying for and therefore submitting these searches can seriously impact the speed of the transaction.

Many buyers need to apply for a mortgage to fund a purchase and it can take up to 12 weeks for an application to turn into an offer. As a buyer, the earlier you can submit a mortgage application, with the very many forms of paperwork needed to support this, the better, for obvious reasons. As the seller, once the surveyor telephones to make an appointment for the valuation to be done, try to book this date for as soon as possible, as nothing will happen to process the application until the valuation is completed and returned by the surveyor to the mortgage company. Clearly, if you book the valuation appointment for 10 days’ time that is potentially another 10 days added to your transaction.

Very often a house sale will be just one in a chain of transactions – there may be 4 or 5 houses involved in a chain and each one will have its own issues to address. Unfortunately, the chain will move, exchange and complete at the pace of the slowest link in the chain. The estate agent can speak to many more people in the chain than the conveyancer, who is only able to speak to their own client and the other party’s conveyancer. Your own transaction may be ready to exchange but it feels like nothing is happening if there is a problem elsewhere in the chain. It can feel less frustrating when you understand what is creating the delay & it’s likely to be the estate agent who knows most about the events happening in other parts of a chain.

There are many other aspects to a sale or purchase transaction and all have to be checked out, resolved and put into place before exchange of contracts and completion can take place. The matters detailed here are just a few of the areas where if dealt with promptly, can save time. Whether or not we are able to influence the speed of a transaction, by far the best advice is not to set a date for completion until all parties in the chain are ready and without first discussing dates with your own conveyancer.

If you would like more information or for a no obligation discussion, please contact Okells FrancisLaw LLP on either 01989 762009 or 01594 842242 or email them on