Published: 30/07/2022 By Allan Fuller
Why are sales taking so long?
A recent survey has shown that the average sale is taking 15 weeks from when it was agreed until completion takes place.
In England and Wales, once a sale has been agreed we have about the slowest, most antiquated and inefficient system of transacting property of anywhere I know in the world.
Recently we were selling a flat in Putney. Once we had agreed the sale, after weeks of sheer frustration, the poor vendor was so worn out with the whole thing dragging so long, she decided the stress was just too much and pulled out. Much was due to the sheer inefficiency of the buyer’s conveyancing company. For instance, it took them three weeks to read and approve one 2-page document!
Much of the work we have to do as agents is chasing solicitors and mortgage providers. One piece of advice to all vendors and purchasers is to use a local solicitor. If you think a large conveyancing company will be better, check out their online reviews. You will get a shock!
Much of the difficulty is our plainly daft system of ‘Subject to Contract’ meaning that when we agree a sale either the vendor or purchaser can pull out at any point prior to contracts being exchanged. In this day and age, surely a better system can be found. I was once in South Australia, the system there was amazing, first sort your finance, check the title, then sign an offer form. If the offer is accepted, you have 48 hours to change your mind. After that it is binding on both seller and buyer, lawyers do the rest!
If our process were far more simple, people would move more often. Countless times I have heard the comment, ‘I never want to move again because the process was so stressful.’
Between such professional bodies as The Law Society, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, National Association of Estate Agents and the government, surely a better system can be found.