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Property sales transactions are taking longer – how can you speed things up?

Categories: Guest speakers & industry specialists


Since 2011, the average time to secure a buyer has been trending downwards in most regions. However, during the same period, the average time from securing a buyer to completion has trended upwards at a faster rate, pushing up the overall time to transact.

Outside of Scotland, it now takes just over 23 weeks on average to progress a property from first marketed all the way through to completion, with two thirds of that time (16 weeks) coming after the buyer has been secured.

This provides agents with an opportunity to get ahead of the competition by speeding up transaction times, leading to happier clients and improved cash-flow for your business.

We asked two industry professionals to share their insights into what you can do differently to keep property moving.

 

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Peter Ambrose, Managing Director at The Partnership, a leading supplier of conveyancing services based in London and Guildford. Peter shares his top three tips for avoiding delays to speed up transaction times.

With deals now taking 15 weeks on average to go through the conveyancing process, it’s vital you do everything possible to avoid those deal-killing delays.

Here are three tried and tested steps you can follow to speed up your transaction time:

1 – Identify potential ownership issue with the property

You can buy the title plan from Land Registry to check your client owns what they think they do. Some areas to look out for are; gardens, roof terraces and attics. Resolving problems with ownership, especially with leasehold properties, can take months to resolve, so getting the seller
to do this in advance can be a huge time saving.

2 – Check all the key aspects of the lease

Look beyond just the lease term, in particular, the demise – ie, does the lease plan match the Land Registry plan? Whilst every lease should have a plan, these can be missing or inaccurate – if so, ask your client to get a new one drawn up.

3 – Get all the documentation in advance

If there are alterations to the property, make your clients aware they will need guarantees and certificates and to give them to their lawyers early on. They will also need to get identification documents for themselves and anyone giving them money, such as the Bank of Mum and Dad, that will need to be certified, so ensure they do this in advance.

Simon Wilkinson, Senior Partner at The Wilkinson Partnership, an independent estate agency with four offices based in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Simon shares what The Wilkinson Partnership have been doing to reduce their time from securing a buyer to completion to just nine weeks; six weeks faster than the national average.

For many agents cash-flow and commission are fundamental to their business. The time from reserving a sale and receiving the money in the bank is critical and much can be done to enhance this – but what?

This year we’ve been trialling a way to provide buyers and sellers with more information upfront using documents from Propertymark, including a Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ) and a more extensive Memorandum of Sale (MOS).

The PIQ ensures the property is prepared for both marketing and for legal sale. The seller can complete the form online, or with the valuer who can help identify the things that need to be done to make the property ‘sale ready’.

The completed form is emailed to the seller’s conveyancer and they can immediately start to rectify the non-compliances to try and avoid delays later in the process, when a sale is agreed.

The buyers also complete a Declaration of Offer form and a Chain form, documents that we’ve been using for 20 years, which are sent to both conveyancers to help add certainty. Combined, these have helped lead to a fall through rate for our brand of less than 10%.

The new full MOS cuts delays too, not least through very simple things like getting the buyer’s full name, correctly spelt (checked against their ID) and sending out the Land Registry Title documents and Plan (cost £3).

Since trialling these extra steps, our average time from reservation to completion has dropped to nine weeks; six weeks faster than the national average. You can expect a lot more innovation very soon, and with it, happier buyers, vendors and agents.

You can find these insights and more in the 2019/20 edition of the Little Blue Book, available online here.

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Source: Rightmove data 2019

Peter Ambrose is Managing Director at The Partnership, a leading supplier of conveyancing services based in London and Guildford.

Simon Wilkinson is Senior Partner at The Wilkinson Partnership, an independent estate agency with four offices based in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.