How to speed up solicitors if the conveyancing process is taking too long
Buying or selling a house is stressful enough, but if your solicitor appears to be slowing the whole conveyancing process down, the stress levels increase further. It’s often the case that once your offer is accepted, which is when the conveyancing process starts, that the house moving process seemingly comes to a grinding halt. This can be the most frustrating part of the house moving process.
If this is what has happened to you, as I know from recent bitter experience during Covid of how long it can take for solicitors to act, you need to know how to put pressure on solicitors to speed the conveyancing process up.
So how do you to put pressure on solicitors? The best way to put pressure on solicitors to speed up the conveyancing process is to give them a deadline and ask for weekly updates. Do your part in the house buying process and use the estate agent to put pressure on your solicitor. If that doesn’t work, making a complaint will add more pressure.
But it’s not just your solicitor who could be slowing the conveyancing process up and who needs to be pressurised, it might be your buyer’s solicitor who needs some pressure to move the conveyancing process along too. Or equally, it could be your seller’s solicitor as well or a combination of all solicitors acting in the conveyancing process.
Please also read this article to discover how you could save £71,475 on your next mortgage if you sell your house and rent before buying again. Even I was amazed when I did the calculations! The strategies you learn in this article will not only save you money, but it will also reduce the stress of buying your next house.
Why do solicitors take so long?
There are a number of reasons why solicitors take so long to exchange contracts, which might be as simple as they are bad at their job, they have too many clients to handle or have delays obtaining searches. It could be due to delays by the seller or your buyer being slow to respond to their solicitor.
There are a number of things that can go wrong during conveyancing process, which may look like a solicitor is on a go-slow, but to help you understand the process better this is a list of factors that might be causing a delay to the conveyancing process. If you are in the know, this will not only help you better understand why your solicitor might be taking longer, but it will also help you ask better questions too:
- Mortgage delays: Has everyone had their mortgage approved. If they don’t this may be what’s causing the delay, which is not the solicitor’s fault.
- House survey is slow: There could be a delay with the house survey, which might need chasing up. Or it could be the survey of your house has yet to be arranged by your buyers, but either way the conveyancing process cannot move forward without the survey results.
- Survey problems: If a survey highlights a problem somewhere down the sales chain, this can result in delays.
- Too much work: Your solicitor may be experiencing overwhelm by having too many clients which is what’s causing the delay. It could also be other market factors, like the Stamp Duty holidays put in place by the government that can create too much work. Whilst this shouldn’t be an excuse, it has to be born in mind.
- Long sales chain: The longer the sales chain, the longer the conveyancing process will take, as each additional house in the chain introduces another set of solicitors.
- Problem transaction: Some property purchases can be complicated be can be problematic, for example there maybe covenants to consider or there could be a dispute over boundaries. Each of these needs to be dealt with carefully by your solicitor, and each problem that arises will delay the conveyancing process.
- Unregistered land: Not all properties are registered at land registry, which can cause delays in the conveyancing process.
- The blame game: Often times solicitors blame each other to take the pressure of their firm, but if there is a delay it’s usually because one of the solicitors are waiting for something. Use the estate agent to get to the bottom of what is causing the delay.
- Collapse sale chain: Something may have gone wrong down the conveyancing sales chain, for example; someone’s sale may have fallen through which will halt the conveyancing process. Get this investigated by the estate agent.
- Being realistic: Bear in mind that if you keep phoning and emailing your solicitor, they may end up spending all their time speaking and emailing you and not working on the conveyancing.
- Cheap solicitors: Cheap conveyancing firms aren’t always the best, and if you’ve chosen the wrong solicitor this might be the reason for delays.
- Unresponsive sellers: The delays might be down to the sellers may be slow at responding to their solicitor, which will have a knock-on effect to your solicitor.
- Unresponsive buyers: Your buyers may be slow to respond to their solicitor, which will impact how fast your solicitor can act.
- Doing your part: You need to help your solicitor to help you by responding quickly to any requests for information.
- Being bottom of the pile: It’s all too easy for solicitors to allow clients to fall down to the bottom of a pile of work if they are not being pressurised. It’s human nature for anyone to put those who call more regularly at the top of the pile, which is what you should do. If you call your solicitor on a regular basis and other clients don’t, you are more likely to be at the top of the pile and be dealt with first.
What’s the best way to put pressure on solicitors to speed up the buying or selling process?
Before you begin to pressurise any of the solicitors in your conveyancing chain, step back to make sure it’s not too early to start pushing. But if it’s been more than a few weeks and nothing seems to be happening, where do you begin?
- Set a deadline.
- Ask for weekly updates.
- Use the estate agent to chase the solicitor.
- Complain to your solicitor.
- Speak to the vendors or the buyers if you have direct contact with them.
- Change solicitors to one that will get the deal done.
- Threaten to pull out of the deal.
- Ask your buyer or seller to change solicitors.
- Use a mortgage broker.
- Do your part.
Your first challenge is to find out why there is a problem and what is causing it. Once you know what’s causing the delay you’ll be able to move forward. You can then focus on who’s solicitor is causing the delay.
Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail about how to speed up solicitors.
1. Setting a deadline will put pressure on your solicitor
Setting a deadline for your property purchase to complete will put pressure on your solicitor, but be realistic with the deadline you set and bear in mind if you are in a sales chain too. The deadline with have more effect if there’s a good reason behind it, like if you are moving to start a new job. If your mortgage offer has an expiry date, this can be used as leverage too.
2. Asking for weekly updates increases the pressure on solicitors
By asking for weekly updates you’ll be increasing the pressure on your solicitor and it will keep the conveyancing process moving.
3. Use your estate agent or the seller’s estate agent to chase the solicitor to help speed things up
One of the jobs of the estate agent, or certainly a good estate agent, is to chase-up both party’s solicitors. If you find out the sale is being held up by the other-side’s solicitor, call the estate agent to chase.
After all it’s in the estate agents interest for the sale to proceed and to happen quickly. They don’t get paid otherwise.
If you don’t get any joy from phoning or emailing the estate agent, visit them instead. Sometimes a personal face-to-face meeting has a bigger impact to get things done. It works well if you get the estate agent to call the other side’s solicitor while you are there with them.
4. Complain to your solicitor about their slow progress and follow their complaints procedure
If you have tried to speed up your solicitor and nothing is working, you can threaten to complain. Most solicitors will have a complaints procedure, which you should follow.
You may find the simple act of asking for the firm’s complaint procedure may be enough to speed things up, thereby avoiding the need to complain.
5. Speak to the vendors or the buyers if you have direct contact with them to push their own solicitor
If you know it’s not your solicitor who is holding the sales chain up, but it’s your buyer’s solicitor or your sellers solicitor, you should get in touch with the buyer or the vendor directly.
You can only do this if you have their contact details. But if you don’t you will have to follow point one above. You will therefore have to rely on going through the estate agent instead.
in extreme circumstances you could make a visit to the seller if you don’t have their number or email address. But be careful you don’t upset them as you are in danger of alienating the seller.
Whilst it’s not the done thing, you could try calling your buyer’s or sellers’ solicitor. The solicitor concerned won’t like this approach and it may jolt them into action to get you off their back. However, you need to be careful with this too, as this may also alienate your buyer or the seller.
6. Change solicitors to one that will get the deal done much faster
Only change solicitors part-way through a house purchase as a last resort, as this will have the result of delaying the process even more. Your new solicitor will have to come up to speed and you will also incur a double cost.
If you decide to change solicitors, get advice from the estate agent on who are good solicitors. On the whole estate agents will not recommend a bad solicitor, as they want the sale to happen quickly. Plus remember, cheap isn’t always good.
However, if your first solicitor has already paid for and done the searches, they should pass these on to your new solicitor. It is the searches that can take time, so this should save a bit of time with the change over.
7. Threaten to pull out of the deal if it appears the other party’s solicitor is slowing the conveyancing process
You should only threatening to pull out of the deal if you mean it. This could be to threaten to put your house back on the market. Or if your purchase is taking too long, you could threaten to pull out of the purchase of your new house.
By threatening to pull out can have the desired effect, but equally it can go the other way. If you threaten your buyer, they may simply call your bluff and walk away. Or if you threaten the vendor, this may get their back up and they may put their house back on the market.
But if both are sensible, they will understand your frustration if they are aware of the problem being with their solicitor. So you should communicate as far as possible with the estate agent and use them to put the pressure on.
8. Ask your buyer or seller to change solicitors to one that will get the sale done quickly
Whilst this won’t be easy and your buyer or seller won’t be happy to change, it’s worth a try. First speak with your estate agent about the problem and explain why you are unhappy. The agent should already be aware there is a problem if they are on top of things.
They should be happy to have this conversation with the buyer or seller, depending on which solicitor it is that’s causing the problem.
9. Use a mortgage broker to put pressure no the solicitors
If you used a mortgage broker to arrange your mortgage use your broker to also put pressure on your solicitor too. The broker’s commission is usually dependent on the sale completing so they have a vested interest in chasing the deal too.
The broker will also be able to chase the lender’s solicitor, as it could be their solicitor who is slowing down the sale.
10. Do your part in the conveyancing process
Never lose sight of the fact that this is your home move and you need to do your part in the conveyancing process. This includes responding quickly to your solicitor when they ask questions, or when they send the Seller Property Information Form.
Reasons why you don’t want delays that are caused by solicitors
Delays caused by solicitors can have knock-on effect. This can cause problems like your mortgage offer running out before the sale completes. Whilst a mortgage offer can be extended, this isn’t always the case.
One of the biggest reasons why you don’t want delays due to solicitors is that the sale could fall through. Not only will you lose the deal, but it may have already cost you in terms of solicitor’s fees, valuation fees and so on.
Can you call to speak to your buyer’s solicitor to chase them?
You call to chase or speak with your buyers solicitor yourself directly as it would be against their terms to do so and would create a conflict of interest.
But you should get your buyers case their own solicitor to turn the pressure up. If you’re not able to speak with the buyer directly, ask your estate agent to chase this for you.
One of the best ways to chivvy any buyer along is to threaten to put the property back on the market. But only threaten this if you are prepared to lose the sale.
How to chase buyers solicitor
The best way to chase your buyer’s solicitor is to do this through your estate agent or speak directly to your buyer if you have their contact details.
You can’t speak directly with your buyer’s solicitor as this will be a conflict of interest for them and against their terms and conditions.
Can you call to speak to your seller’s solicitor?
You cannot call the seller’s solicitors to speak with them, as it would be against their terms and it would create a conflict of interest.
But you should get the vendors (sellers) themselves to turn the pressure up on their solicitor, or if you’re not able to speak with the vendor directly, ask their estate agent to do this for you.
How to chase your seller’s solicitor
The best way to chase your seller’s solicitor is to do this through their estate agent or speak to them directly if you have their contact details.
You can’t speak to the seller’s solicitor, as this will be a conflict of interest for them and against their terms and conditions.
Please don’t forget to read this before you leave…
Please don’t forget to also read this article to discover how you could save £71,475 on your next mortgage if you sell your house and rent before buying again. As I said earlier, even I was amazed when I did the calculations!
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