Is the sales boom in danger of being scuppered by slow conveyancing?

Agents and conveyancers are worried that the system is beginning to creak as record numbers of sales put sales progression under huge pressure.


Estate agents have been complaining to newspapers and taking to social media over the weekend about the increased time it is taking for sales to get to completion and the slow conveyancing system.

This follows estimates from both the Conveyancing Association (CA) and NAEA Propertymark that on average vendors will need to get their properties on the market by the 25th or 26th of this month to achieve a completion before the stamp duty holiday deadline of 31st March next year.

GetAgent says these cut off dates vary from region to region, though. Its data suggests that some regions, where demand is perhaps more subdued than others, vendors can wait until as late as November 6th in the Midlands to begin marketing their properties.

“We recommend that sellers should begin marketing no later than 26th September in order to meet the stamp duty holiday deadline of 31st March,” says Mark Hayward, Chief Executive of NAEA.

The CA has described this date as ‘shocking’, telling The Sunday Times:” The selling process has speeded up, but the time to complete is the same, if not longer, because of a lack of capacity, backlog and other problems.”

And latest sales data from TwencyCI shows that the average time from offers accepted to exchange of contracts is now 125 days, up from 107 days a year ago.

Marc von Grundherr of central London agency Benham & Reeves, adds: “It is incredibly frustrating. At the moment you are lucky to get a sale through in six months from the offer being agreed to completion.”

Manchester agent Maurice Kilbride  (left) took to Twitter to urge vendors to ‘get a wiggle on…given the increased time it is taking to get house sales to completion’, describing the average time of 19 weeks from sale to completion as ‘ridiculous’.

Read more about faster conveyancing. 


  1. The Sunday Times article focus’s on Ryder & Dutton in the northwest. They have been aware of lengthening transaction times over 12 months and well before the covid 19 pandemic which has only served to exacerbate the situation.

    There is no one single factor causing the delays, despite some blaming conveyancers and equally there is not one single solution to solve the problem. We can’t simply conjure up extra capacity in law firms, at lenders, with surveyors and local authorities.

    What we can do is remove delays in as many areas as we can control and the net sum will be shorter transaction times. These include ensuring law firms use digital onboarding so clients can complete forms and ID verification in hours not weeks. We can instruct law firms when the house goes on the market not when a sale is agreed. We can ensure those firms prepare a contract and sort title issues at that early stage rather than waiting for a buyer to raise the issue. The sellers conveyancer can order searches so there is no delay later in the transaction.

    This is what Ryder & Dutton have done in conjunction with a willing panel of law firms all using the LFS Minerva software platform and the results are already beginning to shine through. Feel free to connect if you want to know more

  2. David Jabbari, Solicitor, CEO of Muve

    It is truly shocking, and frankly unbelievable, that sellers would need to list this month to get in within the SDLT holiday deadline. This is not our experience, with our MuveFast service targeting 28 day exchanges. The big issue I am seeing is mortgage approvals but this is definitely improving. There is no doubt that lots of law firms were too slow to unfurlough and have not invested in new capacity to keep up with demand. We were fortunate that we raised over £1m new investment during Covid and have ploughed this immediately into new capacity and a new estate agency account management team. Never was there a more important time to ensure that instructed lawyers are committed to faster transaction times and have the resources to deliver this. ([email protected]).

What's your opinion?

Back to top button