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Buyers deterred from moving again as transaction times pass 150 days

Homebuyers are deterred from moving again and using the same estate agent due to the stress and increasing length of time associated with property transactions, research claims.

A new Home Movers Report from conveyancing platform Smoove found nine in 10 homebuyers described the process of moving home stressful, with respondents citing the length of time it took to complete, the lack of certainty and waiting for exchange and completion dates as some of the main reasons.

Within the past six months, the average time to complete was 153 days, the equivalent of more than five months, according to the report, compared with 124 days pre-pandemic.

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Following the experience, 55% of homeowners said they would be unlikely to move again within the next five years, with the over-55 age group most likely to stay put.

Smoove warns in its report that this could leave people in homes that may be unsuitable in later life.

When asked what they would do differently next time moving home, more than two-fifths (45%) would save more money and almost a fifth (19%) would choose a different soliciting firm or estate agent (19%).

The analysis found that one in three purchases have fallen through over the past 12 months, while new instructions are up by 36%.

Buyers are also paying more to move, with legal fees up by 11% or £140, from £1,273 to £1,413 on average, according to the report.

Homebuyer surveys cost £525 on average, up from £465 the previous year, Smoove said.

Potential homeowners are therefore paying almost £2,000 in associated costs – money which could be wasted if the transaction then falls through, the report warns.

Jesper With-Fogstrup, chief executive of Smoove, said: "Home moving can often be an agonising, horribly stressful experience. The fact that few would argue with this speaks to a failed system.

“One in three home buying transactions should not be falling through. This figure represents tens of thousands of broken dreams and huge sums of money essentially poured down the drain. Creating more certainty around property transactions is essential. It will probably require legislative reform to provide greater protection to buyers and sellers once offers have been accepted.

“However, in the meantime, there are many things the industry could do to reduce stress levels and the proportion of transactions falling through. As we've seen, the sheer length of time is a major driver of stress and uncertainty. 

“The entire process requires significant digitisation and automation, expediting paperwork and alleviating pain points. People should be able to engage with the transaction process entirely online or via an app, providing digital IDs, signatures and form filling and see its progression in real time. This could really help modernise the industry and transform the home moving experience."     

  • Dharmesh Mistry

    The change is already happening with the Home Buying and Selling Group, led by Kate Faulkner and being digitised my Maria Harris... The work here will revolutionise the transaction process and reduce time, cost and stress for buyers and sellers. It will create new and broad opportunities for all involved from conveyancers, to surveyors, lenders and estate agents. Expect a huge growth of Proptechs, like Smoov, addressing this issue

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    Despite an obsession with 'digitisation' propaganda, nothing will change until the essential elements change.
    For instance, Dorset Council DESPITE heavy investment in IT is still taking over two months to process local searches. Over the decades I have seen many 'game changers'.

    Bear in mind as well that there are limits as to how far a complex process can be dumbed down. Consumers (formerly known as clients) don't always benefit from blind speed. What is needed is diligence, not mere handle-turning. The new Building Safety Act will have a dramatic impact on leasehold conveyancing is over 298 pages long!

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