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What's holding up my move?

Is your move taking too long? Here are some of the usual suspects, and what you can do about them.

What's holding up my move?

Moving home is stressful, we all know that. It’s also a long process. It could easily be seen that the long part of the journey is saving up the deposit, finding the right mortgage lender and choosing your future home. But really, that’s just the beginning.

The delays begin once you’ve chosen your dream property. The mis-starts with offers and counter offers, choosing solicitors and sorting out paperwork is only just the start.

But what if your move is taking too long, and you can’t figure out why?

Here are some of the usual suspects, and how you can deal with them.

A long chain 

The most straightforward (and yet frustrating) reason for the hold up is being part of a chain. The longer the chain is, the more complex everything becomes. In many cases, money has to transfer from the first sale to travel up the chain, so any delays at the start will continue down the line. It also means that move dates, conveyancing issues or disagreements over price or move date can hold up those who are just waiting for the chain reaction.

What can you do?

Not a huge amount, unfortunately. If you feel like the chain isn’t getting anywhere, you can pull out and pick a more convenient property. You could perhaps threaten this, as it’s likely your leaving a chain will have an impact on other buyers.

Knowing where you are in the chain and what is going on at other points in the chain can be helpful for you but isn’t always possible. The best thing to do is make sure you have a flexible living situation – you may want to give notice at your rental property, but then find yourself homeless when further delays come in.

See if you can arrange a rolling contract or stay with friends or relatives in the interim. Just be aware that it can go on for longer than you expect.

Top tip:

If it’s starting to look like you’ll be out of your property before you move into your next one, look into storage solutions with flexible payments and easy access.

Sellers/Buyers 

The problem with buying a house is that it’s a huge, scary decision. Often people rush in, falling in love with a property, and then a few days later come to their senses, realise it’s more than they can afford, or their partner doesn’t like it.

Sometimes, situations change – job opportunities, unwell relatives, unexpected money problems. Unfortunately, that can mean you lose out on the property you love, or you start all over again trying to sell.

One of the main elements that can hold up a sale is buying from a divorcing or separating couple. There may be a back and forth on whether one of the partners really wants to sell the property, or what price they agree they want for it.

One of the current issues with the buying and selling process in the UK is the huge amount of time that passes in between making an offer and completing the sale. At any point, buyers can threaten to walk away if the price isn’t dropped, which holds sellers over a barrel. On the other side, buyers can be ready to move, think everything is going ahead, and then the seller takes a higher offer from someone else, out of nowhere.

People’s situations change, and sometimes you need to adapt too. It all comes down to how much you want the property or the sale and what you’re willing to compromise on (and if you’re willing to go back to square one and start all over again).

Whilst it’s not always possible to establish a relationship with your buyer or seller, if they like you, they’re less likely to take advantage of the situation.

Conveyancing

Conveyancing is often where most of the time is taken in the process, because it’s complicated and paperwork has to be correct. Your conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer will be sending out for searches, dealing with the paperwork between both parties, liasing with your buyer/seller’s solicitor and your mortgage lender, as well as many other important tasks.

Some of the easy things that add unnecessary time to a move are to do with paperwork not being sent back promptly or filled out correctly. Bear in mind that every time an addition or correction has to be made, you’ll probably have to pay to cover that time. Fill out paperwork correctly and ask questions if you’re not sure.

In our ‘what I wish I’d known as a first time buyer’ article, one new homeowner suggests keeping all of the files on a USB stick so that you can send copies of anything requested at a moment’s notice.

Confirming your mortgage with your lender as soon as possible will also nullify any concerns later in the process.

Searches can be very quick, or can take a while, depending on the HM Land Registry and how busy it is. Your searches will give you an overview of anything in the area, or about the property that could be of concern. This includes environmental factors, future building works and roads etc.

Another thing that can slow you down is simply the way the industry exists – usually built on paper files rather than digitised. Whilst some conveyancing firms are making headway with changing this, offering apps that allow you to track your move through to completion and to clearly see the chain and next steps available, overall movement can be slow.

The best way to keep on target is to pick a licensed conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor that you trust – one who understands the sale and can give you a clear recommended completion date.

Make sure you have a dedicated contact who is in charge of your case and who you can call to discuss. There is no reason that your conveyancing solicitor needs to be local to you, but some people do enjoy being able to go into the office and see their conveyancer directly.

Many movers feel frustrated that they don’t know what’s happening and feel out of control. Obviously conveyancing solicitors are busy people, and they often have a high case load, so they may not always keep you updated if they are waiting for more definitive news to give you.

Calling your solicitor to see where you are in the process and keeping on top of everything will make sure everyone is kept accountable. Picking a definitive completion date and ensuring all parties agree to it can also work to this end.

Estate Agents

Your estate agent will need to liase with your conveyancing solicitor, and if they’re not working together, it’s easy for things to fall apart. This doesn’t mean you should just choose a conveyancing solicitor recommended by your estate agent – money will have changed hands for your referral, and there’s no guarantee they will be quicker.

Make sure you have a dedicated contact at the agency so you can keep updated on what’s going on, especially if you’re in a chain.

Remember that as a buyer, the estate agent is working for the seller, not for you. However, they want to get the property sold, so asking them about the previous history of the house, if there’s been any other offers or how long it’s been on the market will all be helpful.

Remember they are legally obliged to tell you if there are any issues with the property that could put you off buying. It’s better to find these out sooner rather than later.

Survey 

Surveys don’t tend to take a long time to do – as long as you can arrange for your Chartered Surveyor to visit the property, reports tend to come back quickly and most surveyors are happy to chat through their findings so you know what you’re looking at.

The hold ups come when you find something on the survey that worries you. Perhaps there’s been a history of Japanese knotweed, and you need to see proof of the treatment. Maybe there’s indication of damp, or subsidence and you need more information.

The decision of what to do when a problem crops up with your property is yours alone – an in-depth Building Survey will give you the approximate costs for the work and will tell you how necessary it is. It is possible to use the report to negotiate a discount with the seller, allowing for you to pay for any fixes that are needed.

It’s important to consider your mortgage lender in this scenario, as certain properties might be rejected by mortgage lenders.

You may also decide to walk away and find a property that is not as much trouble. However, this does mean starting all over again.

Removals

By the time you’ve reached the removals stage, everything is at least near the end! However, if your completion date does keep changing, be sure to keep your removals team up to date, as they will have had bookings lined up in advance. They will attempt to be as flexible as possible but tying down a moving date in advance is your best option.

The best way to avoid any delays or issues when moving is to ensure your removals team has sent around someone to survey your property – they’ll be able to accurately suggest the correct size van.

You also need to confirm whether they will be needed to break down furniture and reassemble it at the other end. There is usually an extra cost for this, and the team need to know in advance so they can bring their tools. The biggest time waster is not being clear about what you need, and underestimating the amount of stuff you have. Make sure everything is packed and ready to go, otherwise you’ll find yourself paying for extra time.

Be prepared to walk away

Sometimes, buying a property is a quick and easy process. We hope that’s the case with your move! But if it isn’t, there are always things you can do. The best way to proceed is to stay in contact, make clear what your expectations are and find out exactly what the hold ups are.

It’s hard to be patient when you want to be in your new home, but make sure you have accommodation available if dates change at the last minute.

Finally, it can be tempting to forge ahead with a property you’re not sure about just because you’ve invested so much time and money – this is what gazumpers depend upon when wanting to change the agreed price. If the property is going to cause you more heartache than joy in the long term, there is always the chance to walk away.

Starting over may not be pleasant, but it could save you thousands of pounds in unexpected repairs and trying to fix a property that may be a bad investment. Buying a home is the biggest purchase you are likely to make – feel comfortable that you’re making the right decision, however long it takes.
 

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