Solicitors are being accused once more of slowing down the property sales process, but not for the reasons most agents might imagine.
Leading buying agent Nina Harrison of London firm Haringtons says the already slow probate process, which can delay properties being put on the market or listed at auction, is now facing additional delays.
“The already lengthy probate process is being exacerbated by an ongoing backlog; this is now having huge repercussions on the property market as homes lie empty whilst they await their fate,” says Harrison (main picture).
“The pandemic has added to the issue; there is a shortage in staff processing wills, coupled with the increased workload as a consequence of COVID-19 with deaths and increased dependency of residential care.”
Haringtons suggests the key problem is not Covid, although this is contributing factory, but the fact that 59% of people in the UK do not have wills, and that 39% of 65 to 74-year-old do not have one.
The problem has been particularly severe throughout the pandemic, during which 158,000 people have died ‘due to Covid’.
The probate system now creaking severely and delaying many property sales that otherwise might have gone ahead in normal times.
“We were involved in a probate sale, a family home in London which was being bought by a young family, fortunately they aren’t in a rush to move in as they had a new addition, but by the time they get the keys, the process will have been 21 months long – and this doesn’t include the time they will spend in rented accommodation whilst they have refurbishment works completed,” adds Harrison.