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March Legal Update

Tim Bishop, Senior Partner at Bonallack and Bishop Solicitors in Salisbury provides the March Legal Update. He comments on why conveyancing transactions are currently taking longer than usual:

“As both an investor myself, and a solicitor who owns a law firm with a 17 strong conveyancing team, I can confirm that unfortunately, the answer is yes. Although things are improving, the average conveyancing transaction is still taking longer than it did pre-Covid.

“Back then, the average length of time from having the offer accepted to completion was around 3 months – though it could be longer or shorter depending on the circumstances. But now it’s definitely increased – more likely averaging around 4 to 4 1/2 months.

“And I’ve just had a purchase fall through myself– I was waiting for 7 months to exchange – and then the entire transaction fell through. So even if you’re a solicitor, you can’t force these things through!

“And remember, in any chain or transaction, your purchase will only go as fast as the slowest link in the chain (e.g., searches, mortgage company, surveyor, other parties in the chain and their solicitors). And then of course there’s the Land Registry…..

“But here are 6 quick tips to make sure your conveyancing doesn’t take forever:

  • Make sure you have the right solicitor. Unfortunately, in the last year or 2, too many solicitors have simply taken on too much work, slowing things down not only for their own clients, but for everybody else in the chain. You can’t speed up other people’s solicitors – but make sure you get the right solicitor yourself.

Ask your broker or estate for recommendations (although watch out if you’re using one of the national chains of estate agents, who get paid for making referrals to conveyancing factories, who are notoriously slow). And be blunt – ask any solicitor you’re thinking of employing whether they have capacity. Good solicitors will be honest with you – twice last year (when the stamp duty frenzy reached its peak) we had to turn conveyancing clients away. We hated doing it – but it was the only way to maintain quality standards for our own clients.

2.)  Instruct your conveyancing solicitor ASAP – ideally as soon as you list your home or when your offer is accepted.

3.)  Get your paperwork in order. Dig out all the documents your solicitor is likely to need including the lease (if you’re selling leasehold property), building work guarantees, boiler servicing records, and building control certificates for any building work done.

4.)   Book your building surveyor as soon as your offer is accepted

5.)  Line up your removal company as soon as you have an exchange date

6.)  Make sure you respond to any request from your solicitor as soon as possible. And make sure that they have every bit of information they need ASAP. For example banks have become very picky about getting the right account details. Until recently you would be OK if you provided the sort code, account number and the surname. But now, if your solicitor provides an inaccurate name for the account, the lender won’t provide your funds on time.Bonallack and Bishop

For further information contact the team at Bonallack and Bishop Solicitors. They are a fast growing law firm based in Wiltshire and Hampshire with offices in Salisbury, Andover, Fordingbridge and Amesbury.

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