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Transaction hold-ups: a different view on why sales are delayed

A leading conveyancing sector spokesmen says some mortgage lenders are making the current delays in the house buying process worse.

Rob Hailstone, chief executive of the Bold Legal Group, says some lenders are struggling under the current pressure of work.

“Conveyancers are finding it difficult to get confirmation that the Certificate of Title (requesting the mortgage money for completion) has been received and all is in order for completion. They are also experiencing difficulty when requesting and receiving redemption figures in good time” he says.

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“Some firms won’t now exchange until the CoT has been submitted and it has been acknowledged that there is no problem” he adds.

One lender told a Bold Legal Group member firm recently that they no longer produce redemption figures in advance of the completion date and that instead they only produce them ‘on the day.’ 

Hailstone asks: “How are conveyancers supposed to prepare for completion if they can’t obtain a redemption figure - not even an indicative one - in advance of completion?"

The debate over transaction delays has waged over recent weeks as the volume of purchases has ramped up in response to the easing of restrictions after lockdowns, and of course the stamp duty holiday ending on March 31 next year.

Traditional rivalries between estate agents and conveyancers have surfaced but the debate this time has also considered whether surveyors, council search departments and lenders have indirectly contributed to delays because of the numbers of people working from home or furloughed in recent months, in addition to the sheer volume of demand.

“This is not a finger pointing exercise, that would be unfair and unwarranted whilst we are in these uncharted waters” says Hailstone. 

“Conveyancers, surveyors, local authorities and others are all finding it difficult to work efficiently 100 per cent of the time. However, the role of the lender, in issuing offers, processing requests for redemption statements and releasing mortgage funds is vital” he states.

His contribution follows a story earlier this about Santander withdrawing a mortgage offer from a young couple after exchange and on completion day - actually as the couple’s belongings were being loaded into a removal truck. The couple have been obliged to pay a deposit costing them £33,000. 

Santander says this was an exceptional case, typical of only 0.1 per cent of mortgage offers, but the story on Estate Agent Today prompted comments citing many examples of problems with lenders which ended up delaying transactions.

Rob Hailstone concludes: “As we get nearer to the stamp duty holiday deadline of March 31 matters will become more urgent and even more stressful. On behalf of the Bold Legal Group membership - and probably many others - I ask that all lenders do their best to make sure they are able to process what used to be normal requests efficiently and are able to respond to urgent calls for help, either by phone, email or fax, promptly. Their customers deserve that surely?”

  • Simon Brown ESTAS

    Conveyancers are caught between a rock and a hard place at the moment. I know some are working flat out 7 days a week to push deals through. Lets just hope there's some sort of taper mechanism after the 31st March to take some of the pressure off.

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