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Transaction hold-ups mean sales now taking almost one third longer

Properties are currently taking 29 per cent longer than average to sell once under offer, according to research by a home sales company.

Movewise says hold-ups with searches and conveyancers dealing with a backlog of cases have led to the average time to exchange contracts once an offer has been accepted, increasing from 96 to 124 days.

It says this means any property under offer from late November onwards will likely struggle to complete in time to beat the stamp duty deadline on March 31.

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In London the situation is slightly worse with the average time to exchange increasing from 97 to 125 days. 

The situation is deteriorating too - comparing transactions over the past 30 days against those in the previous 180 days, the average timeis up to 160 days.

“There’s a bottleneck in the conveyancing process as councils struggle to handle the level of property searches being requested and conveyancers drown under an increased workload” says Movewise.

Tom Scarborough, Movewise founder, says: “Although houses are going under offer on average five weeks after initial listing, the bottleneck in the conveyancing process is causing a headache for both sides of the transaction.

“Buyers are still keen to beat the stamp duty deadline and sellers need to be aware of that before accepting an offer. To avoid transactions collapsing, any offer being made now should be on the understanding that completion is likely to be after the tax holiday ends.

“If required, buyers and sellers should enter into any negotiation on price, before the conveyancing process commences. An honest and frank discussion upfront, could avoid a transaction failing further down the line, after money and time has been spent on searches and surveys.”

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