Why are property transactions taking so long?

The events of the last year have taken their toll on every aspect of society and had repercussions in every industry. One area that has really seen the effects of the pandemic is the property market, with house prices fluctuating, stamp duty changes and transaction delays. We outline exactly why property transaction times have been delayed.

Before the pandemic hit, house buyers could expect their property transactions to complete in around 3 or 4 months, however, since COVID, that timeframe has increased up to an average of 5 or 6 months, and in some cases, depending on the length of the chain, even longer than this. There are numerous factors which have contributed to this delay in the conveyancing process, and these factors span every aspect of the house purchase procedure. To fully understand the conveyancing process buyers can check out online guides such as https://www.samconveyancing.co.uk/conveyancing-process.

Absences and working from home delays

Like every other industry, the property industry was hit by the same challenges arising from the pandemic, such as staffing issues at times due to illness and self-isolation periods. Staff working from home has also had an impact as certain practices and procedures have taken longer when working remotely.

Searches, surveys and valuations

Surveys and valuations have been disrupted, causing issues with the conveyancing procedure. Because surveys were not able to be carried out for a period of time, surveyors were extremely busy after the first lockdown restrictions were lifted, allowing them to survey in person again, leading to long waiting times. In some instances, buyers have been forced to reapply for searches and surveys, which only last 3 months, due to lengthy delays.

Mortgage delays

There have been some delays with mortgage applications getting to the offer stage, and as many people have experienced significant changes in financial circumstances, which must be reported to the mortgage provider, these issues can slow the process down.

Stamp duty holiday

When the property market was reopened up after the first lockdown in spring 2020, considerable demand had built up. The announcement of a stamp duty holiday only added to the buyer demand, leading to a rise in house prices. By December, the average house in the UK rose to a record £253,374 as buyers rushed to save thousands of pounds on their purchases during the stamp duty holiday.

It is estimated that almost 550,000 buyers are now waiting to complete before the end of stamp duty holiday at the end of March, this is double the usual figure in the first quarter of the year, so it’s no wonder that there are delays dealing with the sheer volume of house purchases.

Just as in every other industry, the property industry is adjusting and adapting to the current circumstances as best it can, but buyers should be prepared for a longer wait while the situation improves.

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