Allan's May Market Update

Published: 04/05/2023 By Allan Fuller

My career in estate agency started soon after I left school, then 40 years ago I started my own estate agency.  

Many things have changed since then, some for the better, but not all. One aspect that stands out is the incredible amount of time it takes from when a sale is agreed to when it completes. having personally seen how quick transactions are in other countries such as Australia, USA, France and recently in Spain it is staggering that our system is still  so archaic. 

Back in 1983 we reckoned on 4 to 6 weeks to get to the point, of exchange of contracts, which is the first time when the sale is binding on vendor and purchaser. Completion usually 14 to 28 days thereafter. Giving an average of 8 to 10 weeks start to finish. Now the average had grown to 16 weeks just to get to the point of contracts being exchanged.
Communications in 1983 were still mainly phone and post, email was still in its infancy. The internet was not yet the main source of information. Now communications and contact with every sort of institution are so quick and easy why have property sales taken the reverse course and take twice as long as they used to?
Quite correctly both solicitors and mortgage lenders have to do more background checks on their clients and the property. Valuers and surveyors are in short supply so there is another area of delay. Local authority searches are often very slow, again staff shortages are cited.  Leasehold properties take longer due to information needed on service charges and major works that may be planned.
The entire system needs a shake up, this could be done with a combined effort by the government, and professional bodies such as the Law Society, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and National Association of Estate Agents.