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Homes “stuck in the legal log-jam” reach five year high says Rightmove

Rightmove says the number of homes stuck in what it calls “the legal log jam” is at its highest for over five years.

It says a key challenge for buyers now is that having agreed a purchase, there’s a delay in turning that into the binding reality of legal completion and actually moving. 

The number of properties that are sold subject to contract and stuck in the legal process log-jam is at its highest level since June 2014 it insists.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and market analyst, says: “It’s an anxious time for all involved once a sale has been agreed subject to contract, and that includes the estate agent whose livelihood depends on the sales going through rather than falling through. 

“A major factor that might help these moves to actually happen is that it seems more buyers and sellers are convinced it’s a good time financially to do a deal, plus wanting the certainty of getting the deal signed and sealed because of the next looming Brexit deadline.”

Meanwhile the latest Rightmove snapshot shows that the average price of property coming to market has fallen a modest 1.0 per cent over the past month - not unusual at this late summer stage. 

However, this year’s drop is less severe than usual: this time last year the fall was 2.3 per cent in a month. 

But the portal insists that buyers seem much more focused on securing a property this year in contrast to recent summers, with the highest number of sales agreed at this time of year for four years.

The number of sales being agreed is up by 6.1 per cent compared to the same month a year ago, helping to make up for the slower start to the year. 

All regions have seen an increase in volumes year-on-year, with three having increases above 10 per cent. 

The uplift in sales activity is biased towards the east coast, with the North East up by 13.6 per cent, East of England by 12.7 per cent and Yorkshire & the Humber by 10.1 per cent.

“More buyers have cottoned on to the fact that it can be a good time of year to buy, with less competition from other buyers, and sellers typically more willing to accept a lower price. Whilst another approaching Brexit deadline is now nothing new for prospective buyers, this one may seem more definite, and therefore one to beat, with the government regarding this one as ‘do or die’” explains Miles Shipside.

“While the end of October Brexit outcome remains uncertain, more buyers are now going for the certainty of doing a deal, with some having perhaps hesitated earlier in the year.”

  • Rob Hailstone

    “The legal log jam”. A bit of a wide expression, searches, mortgages, public choice, chain breaks or delays, or legal issues?

    Michael Day

    Always good to be able to point the finger at conveyancers Rob!

    You forgot managing agents.

    Estate agents could still do more to prepare sellers ahead of agreeing sales by pushing them to instruct lawyers and get "packs" ready (sound familiar?)


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