The time it takes for property transactions to complete has nearly doubled

In comparison to most industries during the pandemic, the property market welcomed some buoyant activity in 2020. Despite transactions of residential properties and property prices temporarily falling in April 2020 following the national lockdown, the market soon saw a resurgence when restrictions were eased.  Both transactions and price growth rose considerably in the latter half of 2020, reflecting pent-up demand and a response to the temporary Stamp Duty Holiday introduced in July 2020.  According to Zoopla, demand in 2020 was 40% higher than in 2019.

You would think this would be all positive news for buyers and sellers, and in the most part it is.  Sellers have benefited from achieving a higher price for their property than they might have a year ago, and many buyers feel they have benefited from the Stamp Duty holiday. However, for those who were hoping for a quick completion, perhaps they had committed to moving by a certain timeframe, are starting a new job, or have chosen to relocate, the story is not so plain sailing.

Thanks to the pandemic, property sales are taking nearly twice the time to complete.  Prior to the pandemic, property sales would go through on average between three and four months. Now, they are currently taking between five and six months, sometimes longer!

There are a number of factors which are contributing to these delays. Firstly, the uplift in transactions means there is a bottleneck in the conveyancing process.  Councils are struggling to cope with the level of property searches being requested and conveyances are struggling to keep up with the increased workload. In addition, mortgages are also taking longer to agree.

In some cases, buyers are finding they have to reapply for searches and mortgage offers due to the length of time the buying process is taking.

We have had instances where sellers have contacted us because they thought they would have completed by now and are not much further along in the process than when they agreed the offer on their property. For those movers who are not in any particular rush, it’s not a problem, but some people have made plans and commitments that are hanging in the balance.

At this point, with no guarantee that the Stamp Duty holiday is going to extended or tapered, buyers should only make offers on the understanding that they will not benefit from the Stamp Duty Holiday. However, vendors that have found keen buyers who can only afford to move if they can complete before the 31st March, could consider a quick sale option.  WeBuyProperty will be happy to have an informal chat about your options and offer you a no-obligation quote for a quick sale.

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