Buying and selling a home can often send you on an emotional roller-coaster. There is the excitement and exhilaration of selling your home for the right price, finding your new dream home and moving in. However alongside, there can be feelings of irritation, impatience and frustration and the endless asking of “why haven’t I heard from my solicitor yet”?

Solicitors often get the blame for delaying matters, but in fact they should be (and most are) only too happy to achieve a speedy completion for their clients. Not only is it key to client satisfaction, but due to the fact that they don’t get paid until completion takes place!

Conveyancing lawyers cannot normally give a precise answer to the question “How long will my conveyancing take?” at the start of a transaction. This is not because they don’t want to, but because there are usually so many unknown factors in the equation that it is not possible to give a precise answer.

In most cases the conveyancing for the sale or purchase of a home will take between 6 and 8 weeks. But it can be much less, or a lot longer, depending upon many circumstances.

Factors which can delay your conveyancing

There are many outside factors which can delay your conveyancing and solicitors can often do nothing about them. A few examples of such delays are as follows:-

    • Anti-money Laundering Checks – these need to be carried out at the outset of the conveyancing process and although sometimes an inconvenience, they are a necessary part of the process. Solicitors can be penalised for not obtaining the relevant identification from clients. This also includes any party who is gifting any part of the purchase money.
    • Purchase monies coming from a Transfer of Equity or Re-mortgage – in the event that part or all of the purchase monies are coming from another source, it is important that the solicitor dealing with the purchase and the vendors themselves are made aware of this at the outset. If possible they should be given a timescale for completion of the related transaction. Sometimes it is considered that a transfer of equity or re-mortgage for example, will be completed quite quickly. However, again there are certain procedures that must be followed before completion of the same can take place and the funds released. It is often the case in a purchase that all parties are waiting on the linked transaction to complete to release the funds, before exchange of contracts can take place.
    • Problems with Title – sometimes the buyer’s solicitor will discover a problem with the title which needs to be sorted out before exchange and completion can take place. For instance if the property is being sold by an Executor of someone who has died, a Grant of Probate will need to be obtained. Sometimes the title has not been registered at the Land Registry, or the seller’s deeds have been lost. In most cases, problems such as these can be sorted out eventually, but they may take time.
    • Delay in Replies – whilst the seller’s may have already completed an information form giving information on the property, additional enquires may be necessary. Sellers do sometimes take time to reply to such enquiries. They may have to obtain additional information or copies of documentation such as NHBC warranties, planning consents, or management accounts if the property is Leasehold. Unfortunately some of the organisations can be very slow to reply and little can be done to speed them up!
    • Searches – the search with the local council usually takes the longest and with some councils taking up to 3 weeks to send results.
    • Delay in getting a Mortgage Offer – buyers frequently underestimate the amount of time it can take to get a mortgage offer. Many buyers make the mistake of thinking that a lender pre-approving them for a mortgage is the same thing as having an offer – it is not. A full mortgage application can only be made once a buyer has found a property to buy and the purchase price agreed. If the purchase price changes at any stage, so must the mortgage offer! Only when the lender has obtained its own valuation of the property and carried out any risk-analysis checks will a formal offer be issued.
    • Surveys and Valuation – as part of the application process the lender will require a valuation survey, and many buyers a full building survey. To do this the surveyor will require access to the property which has to be arranged with the seller. Delays can obviously occur if the seller is difficult to contact or un-cooperative. In addition the survey may reveal defects which requires a further specialist survey, or an estimate for repairs which again take time to complete.
    • Long chain or incomplete chain – when the seller is buying another property or you have a related sale, it is often referred to as a ‘chain’ of transactions. In such cases every transaction will have to exchange and complete on the same day, to ensure that the funds can be transferred through the various solicitors involved. In such cases a delay anywhere in the chain can cause a delay to all the other linked transactions and the longer the chain, the more likely it is that there may be a delay somewhere.

At Elvin Moore & Partners Solicitors we aim to bring you a first-class conveyancing service at the best possible price. We are an accredited member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) which recognises exceptional service within conveyancing and will ensure that you move as closely to your deadline date as possible.

For more information, or if you would like to instruct us in connection with your sale or purchase call Sarah Elliott on 01509 852454 or email

CategoryAdvice, Conveyancing