When selling or buying a house, it can be an emotional rollercoaster. So here are our tips on how to speed up solicitors when buying a house from our own experience over the years.
It’s said that buying a house is one of the most stressful things you can do in life. Not only will you need to find a buyer for your own home, and sell it at the right price, you will need to begin the legal process to buy the property you want.
Because the conveyancing process is undertaken by a solicitor, it’s out of your control. This means you might not always know what is going and why things are taking longer.
Apart from the stress and worry the waiting can cause, the longer it takes, the bigger the risk of being gazumped which will be heart-breaking if this is the property of your dreams.
So we draw on our experience to show you how to speed up solicitors when buying a house and also what else you can do to get to completion day quicker.
Things to do to speed up the conveyancing process when buying a house
From our experience we can say that in many cases it’s not a question of how to speed up solicitors when buying a house, because the delay often doesn’t sit with them.
While a slow solicitor can be a problem and needs to be addressed, there are things you as a buyer can do beforehand to be as prepared as possible.
To help, this is a quick checklist to ensure that you speed up the process for buying your property:
1. Sort your finances
Since arranging your mortgage can take weeks, you should start this process early. It may be a good idea to have a lender’s agreement in principle, so you know how much your potential mortgage might be.
As a rule, we call our chosen mortgage lender to arrange an agreement in principle as soon as we have put our house on the market. Sometimes we even do it before.
As a first-time buyer, we would recommend getting an agreement in principle before you start viewing properties. Not only will this put you in a strong position and tell you what you can afford, it will also speed up the process once you have found your property.
2. Instruct a solicitor
The conveyancing process will begin straight away, and you could use a conveyancing firm on your mortgage lender’s approved panel to save money and time.
We make sure we choose our solicitor as soon as we have decided to move.
That way, once we have an offer accepted, we can instruct our solicitor straight away. If you’re also selling your home at the same time, we would recommend using the same solicitor, as this will also help to speed up things.
3. Book the survey early
The mortgage lender will require a property valuation and will instruct a valuer for this purpose and charge you their fee. However, you should arrange your own valuation or for a full survey to be carried out. Surveyors can be very busy and can be booked up weeks ahead.
We book in a homebuyers survey as soon as our offer on a house has been accepted, and our solicitor has heard from the seller’s solicitor.
Another option for completing the process quickly is to buy a property that has no chain. This essentially means that the seller is not involved in the conveyancing process for buying their own home as they have moved into another property.
Why do solicitors take so long when buying a home?
In order to understand why it can take longer to reach completion, it’s good to know what the conveyancing process is. There are many reasons why it can take so long when buying a home.
It’s not that straightforward when you consider what’s involved and the process will only begin when your solicitor receives instructions from the home seller once the price has been agreed.
Here are some of the areas where delays can occur and how to deal with them:
Sellers solicitor hasn’t contacted your solicitor
As we have said, the whole process only starts once the seller’s solicitor has contacted your solicitor and set the ball rolling. Your solicitor can’t do anything until that happens.
If you encounter this issue, contact the seller directly, if you have their details. We found that it can help immensely to speed up the process, if you exchange contact details with the seller. Alternatively, you can contact the seller’s estate agent and apply pressure there.
Answers to enquiries are slow/not complete
A great part of your solicitor’s time will be taken up by gathering and reviewing all the information out there about the property you are buying. So they will check all the information they receive from the seller’s solicitor.
In our experience, in most cases your solicitor will have to send enquires to get missing or additional information. Delays can occur when the seller’s solicitor doesn’t answer these queries quickly or satisfactorily.
The best way forward in such cases is again to contact the seller directly. Try to find out what the delay is and how it can be solved.
When we bought one of our homes, our solicitor sent an enquiry about planning permission for the loft conversion. The answers the seller’s solicitor gave just weren’t satisfactory. We contacted the seller who said they gave all the information they had and couldn’t understand what the problem was.
In the end, we contacted the planning office ourselves to clarify matters, get the information we needed and move on the process.
Searches take a long time to come back
Depending on the local authority, a solicitor will spend time on conveyancing searches, including planning enforcement which may affect the property.
Start this process early and use online search facilities where possible. Most solicitors will order the searches soon after they were instructed, but we found it won’t hurt to ask them to do so.
Seller’s solicitor is slowing down the process
Sometimes a solicitor will slow down the process for different reasons. For example, if the seller has encountered some issues with their onward purchase and needs more time to sort it out.
While it isn’t always easy to establish that this is the reason for the delay, in our experience, it’s best to always contact the seller directly. Any delays that stem from the seller’s solicitor can only be resolved by talking to the seller since you won’t be allowed to speak to their solicitor.
Of course, they might not be truthful, if the delay was requested by them. However, it will put pressure on them, as they will be worried to lose you as a buyer.
In our experience over the years we found that often the delays are out of the control of the solicitor.
We have experienced searches taking longer than usual. Our last move was during the pandemic, when there was already a backlog from the first lockdown. Additionally, many people tried to complete before the end of the stamp duty holiday.
This resulted in many things taking longer than usual, including some of the searches our solicitor had ordered. So when you are asking how to speed up solicitors when buying a house, you should first find out what the delay is.
We also had the case, where our buyer’s solicitor was just no good. She was slow and didn’t communicate much. And this includes communication to our buyer. In a case like this, the best way forward is to put pressure on the buyer.
We have done this and managed to overcome the issues. You have to remember that your seller (or buyer, depending on the case) has the same goal as you, to complete as soon as possible.
While our buyer got very frustrated at the situation, he did realise that his solicitor was the issue and did his best to push things along.
We also found that involving estate agents can be useful. After all, their job is to sell the property, so it’s in their interest that everything goes smoothly.
So before you ask how to speed up solicitors when buying a house, find out first what the problem is, as it might not be down to your solicitor at all.
How to put pressure on solicitors
But what if the delay is actually caused by your own solicitor? It can and does happen, so our guide about how to speed up solicitors when buying a house will help to deal with this situation.
Every buyer wants to quickly complete the conveyancing process. And sometimes this means putting pressure on the conveyancing solicitors.
There are different reasons why your solicitor might be responsible for delays:
- Too big workload
- Solicitor just isn’t very good
Any of the above reasons could lead to the process taking longer. Before you start putting pressure on your solicitor, find out what the problem is.
Effective communication is key and will be able to solve many issues. Make sure you stay polite and friendly. You want to keep them on your side.
If you don’t get anywhere, see if there is a complaint’s procedure or if you can talk to someone else at the solicitor firm. However, this should be a last resort option, as it could slow down things even more.
We found, often, several calls and emails to your solicitor asking about updates will be enough to move things along.
To avoid engaging a bad solicitor, make sure you check reviews of the firm you’re planning to hire. These should give you a good idea about what level of service you are likely to get.
How quickly can a house purchase go through?
On average, it takes between four and six weeks for a house purchase to go through, if everything is straight forward.
However, you really should factor in the process taking eight weeks, and it’s not unusual for the conveyancing to be completed within 12 weeks if there are some ‘niggles’.
In our experience, the longer the chain, the longer the conveyancing process takes. With many parties involved, communications slow down, no matter how good your solicitor is.
Whenever we bought a new home we were trying to keep the chain as short as possible. Having a first-time or cash buyer and a seller that doesn’t need to buy a house is the ideal scenario for us.
Of course, it’s not something you can always control, so be prepared for the process to take several months.
Some things might not be in your solicitor’s control but your own. For example, if you decide to carry out a survey at the property that you are buying, then make sure you arrange it as soon as possible after your offer has been accepted.
During busy periods, surveyors can be quite busy and might be booked up for weeks in advance. Depending on the level of survey, it might take longer for you to receive the report.
A homebuyers survey tends to be quicker than a full structural survey, so you also need to consider this.
The full survey will bring peace of mind and if defects are found then you can use this information to negotiate a better price or have the seller carry out the repairs before completing the sale.
Can I contact my buyer’s solicitor?
If you are becoming frustrated with the delays and want to know ‘Can I contact my buyer’s solicitor?’, there’s a very simple answer. And that answer is no. Absolutely not.
You could try, but your buyer’s solicitor will not talk to you, since this goes against normal solicitor etiquette. If you want to communicate with a solicitor, then you have to do it through your own and explain why.
If there are problems, then speak with your estate agent who may be able to pursue any issues with the buyer’s solicitors.
Here’s a great tip in our ‘How to speed up solicitors when buying a house’ guide, and it is to use one solution we have found very helpful. That is contacting the buyer or seller directly, if there are problems with their solicitor. We have done it and it worked quite well.
As we have mentioned, our buyer’s solicitor was very slow to reply to our solicitor and wouldn’t always reply to all the questions. This slowed down things immensely and could have caused us a lot of problems.
But because we had a good relationship with our buyer and communicated well, we were able to work together to push the sales over the line.
This is just one reason why it is a good idea, in our opinion, to exchange contact details with your seller and/or buyer, even if estate agents don’t like it.
Conclusion – How to speed up solicitors when buying a house
For anybody who is looking for advice on how to speed up solicitors when buying a house, then you should look for a firm of solicitors that holds the Conveyancing Quality Scheme certificate, which is accredited by the Law Society and recognises exceptional conveyancing practice.
There are other accreditations for highlighting excellence which may also help speed up the process because you will be dealing with experienced professionals.
Having a good relationship with your solicitor and seller/buyer can also help to speed up the process. And remember, before you ask how to speed up solicitors when buying a house, you should first find out what the delay is.
Often the issue is not in your solicitor’s control. However, there might still be things you can do to help. Communication with all parties is the key to success here, as we have found out buying and selling several properties over the years.
But mostly, when buying a house there are no special ways of speeding up the conveyancing process and whether you complete quickly will be down to several factors working in your favour. But, as mentioned, being prepared will go a long way to completing a home purchase quickly.