A third of property transactions fall through and completion times are on the rise

Thames Water Property SearchesBy Legal Futures Associate Thames Water Property Searches

A new report has found that a third of property transactions fall through, with the average length of time it takes to buy a home also creeping up. The findings, part of home moving platform Smoove’s inaugural Home Movers Report, show that within the last six months, the average time taken to complete a purchase was 153 days – the equivalent of more than five months. This compares to 124 days before the pandemic struck.

The report – which tracked the cost, time and emotional impact of moving home using Smoove’s own data on instructions, mortgage values, associated home moving costs, and completion times – attributes the delays to a number of factors.

It indicates ‘the increase is most likely a result of the post-lockdown boom, as changing consumer lifestyles and demand outweighed supply, combined with greater capacity constraints for solicitors, and local authority searches taking longer to complete likely due to a backlog.’

The report also found that the average cost of legal fees has risen by 11 per cent or £140 in the last year, from £1,273 to £1,413 and that homebuyer surveys cost £525 on average, up from £465 in the previous year.

The report highlights the cash penalties for potential buyers when sales do fall through – with many ‘wasting almost £2,000 on associated costs’ such as legal and surveying fees.

It also points out that ‘the volume of busted transactions contrasts with booming market activity’.

New instructions have risen by 36% year-on-year, the report reveals, with first-time buyer activity jumping by 54% over the same period.

Surveying home buyers on the emotional toll of moving house, Smoove found that nine in 10 found moving home stressful while 55 per cent said they would be unlikely to move again within the next five years.

When asked what they would do differently next time they moved 45 per cent said they would save more money and almost a fifth, 19 per cent, would choose a different soliciting firm or estate agent.

“Creating more certainty around property transactions is essential. It will probably require legislative reform to provide greater protection to buyers and sellers once offers have been accepted,” said Smoove chief executive Jesper With-Fogstrup.

“However, in the meantime, there are many things the industry could do to reduce stress levels and the proportion of transactions falling through.

“As we’ve seen, the sheer length of time is a major driver of stress and uncertainty. The entire process requires significant digitisation and automation, expediting paperwork and alleviating pain points. People should be able to engage with the transaction process entirely online or via an app, providing digital IDs, signatures and form filling and see its progression in real time.”

The report’s findings highlight more than ever the need for effective communication between property professionals and their clients and the importance of customer service – a commitment to which Thames Water Property Searches holds dear.

Thanks to our reliable technology, ordering searches from us is also quick and easy. We’ve got easy-to-use online tools to help – from boundary mapping through to online search tracking (so you’ll always know what stage a search is at).


Associate News is provided by Legal Futures Associates.
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