Metro - 11 July 2014
By Jo Eccles
Over recent months we’ve seen a lot of our client purchases taking much longer, compared to this time last year. The average time from having an offer accepted to exchanging contracts has increased from three weeks to just over five weeks.
This is down to a number of factors which are becoming more prevalent due to the changing climate in the London property market. Firstly, a lot more sellers are in chains which are causing big delays as many sellers are not looking for their onward purchase until they have secured a buyer for their own sale. This means that, as a buyer, you can agree a purchase and move forward with it, but you’re then at the mercy of the seller finding a new property.
As a buyer in this situation, if your seller is taking a long time, you have the choice of walking away and foregoing the fees you’ve spent on the purchase, or sitting tight and continuing waiting. You could see if the seller will allow you to exchange on the property, thus fixing in the price, and agreeing a delayed completion date which gives them time to find a replacement property. Many sellers won’t agree to this, though, as they worry that they’ll fix in today’s price on their sale and, if prices go up in the meantime, they’re priced out. However, there is a benefit for the seller as it puts them in a much better buying position when they do find a property, so this is always a route worth investigating.
Another reason we’re seeing delays is because sellers are keen to port their existing mortgage across to an onward purchase, rather than break the chain and secure a new mortgage because they would face rigorous checks stemming from the recent Mortgage Market Review (MMR). This means that fewer sellers are offering to go into rented accommodation to facilitate a quick sale.
And finally, more buyers and sellers are using out of town solicitors to reduce their transaction costs. However, many aren’t accustomed to the fast pace of the London market can be particularly slow in dealing with enquiries and so on. This causes big knock on delays and, in some cases, risks the transaction altogether as frustrations grow.
With any delay, experience and diplomacy are key, and we’re acting as peace makers a lot more in the current climate!