6 things that could slow down your property purchase

First-time Buyer | January 23, 2024

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The New Year has officially started with a bang as mortgage rate cuts provide positive signs that market recovery is going in exactly the right direction. With interest rates expected to continue to fall, more and more people are hoping to make their property buying dreams come true during 2024. Preparing for a reality check is however important.

Buying a property in the UK is after all no walk in the park. The property buying process takes 12 weeks on average – if it’s a straightforward purchase. It is in fact not unheard of that buying a property can take six months or longer.

The road between offer and completion could be a long one, with several factors able to slow the purchase process to a complete halt. Read on to discover the six things that could slow down your property purchase.

1. Broken chains

Chains are real bugbears for both those buying property and sellers looking to move onto pastures new. The longer the chain, the more frustrating and stressful the transaction. It’s one of the main reasons why chain-free buyers are so desirable.

Chains are however part and parcel of buying or selling a property, but unfortunately they collapse frequently. Buyers or sellers not wanting to proceed, problem securing finance, and failure to renegotiate the price after the results of a survey are just some of the most common reasons why chains break, purchases slow and house sales fall through.

2. Local councils

The local authority of the area you are looking to purchase a property in has a part to play too. You’ll need to complete a Local Authority Search to proceed with your purchase if you’re buying with a mortgage. Your conveyancer or solicitor will request this vital check on your behalf, and with government guidance stipulating an average processing time of 10 working days, you won’t have to wait very long for your results… in theory!

Local authority searches have been blighted by delays for as long as we can remember, slowing the property purchase significantly for the average UK buyer. Here the HomeOwners Alliance reveals more about the timescales to really expect:

“The government target for returning local searches in 2024 is a maximum of 10 working days. But in reality, timescales on local authority searches can vary significantly, from 48 hours to several months! Mitigating factors can include whether the results are sent via email, online or by post; seasonal demand levels and local authority staffing levels.”

3. Land Registry

If your property purchase involves changes to the title deeds, you may experience further delays with Land Registry responsible for processing any amendments. Title deed changes – or ‘deeds of variation’ – are particularly common when buying leasehold properties.

4. The seller

The seller has a lot of power during the property buying process, with a sudden change of mind, change of circumstances, or their own purchase failing commonly causing delays. While such circumstances can’t be avoided, knowing your rights as a purchaser is crucial to protecting yourself financially.

While there’s very little that can be done before contracts are exchanged. By law, you are entitled to sue for any financial losses sustained if the seller chooses not to proceed with the purchase after the exchange of contracts.

5. The surveyor

We’d always recommend commissioning a mid-level or comprehensive survey, and not relying solely on the mortgage valuation to deliver an insight into exactly what you’re paying for. While the commissioning of a survey takes time, it’ll give you the confidence to proceed with your purchase. It could also provide grounds for renegotiation if the property requires more work than expected.

6. The lender

Mortgage application delays are another issue for eager property purchasers and impatient sellers. Even if you have an agreement in principle with a prospective lender, you may encounter delays in the application process, especially if you need to reapply due to your property search taking longer than anticipated.

Making the mortgage application process as simple as possible is easy with our help. Contact our local mortgage advisors today to discuss your next steps.

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YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE. A typical fee is £295. Ask for a personalised illustration. The Mortgage Bureau is a trading name of A.M. Mortgages (UK) Ltd. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate some aspects of Buy to Let mortgages.

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