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Top tips for pushing your house purchase through as quickly as possible

Six ways to speed up your house purchase   

Finding the house of your dreams can be difficult, but once you have found it you will want to secure it as soon as possible.  Louis Mathers, property lawyer at Parnalls Solicitors in Launceston, outlines how you can do this in six easy steps.

“I am often asked: how long does it take to buy a house?” says Louis.  “Sadly, there is no definitive answer.  For a straightforward transaction, six to eight weeks is typical but a number of factors may complicate matters and cause delays.  However, smart buyers know that doing their homework and being prepared can speed the process up significantly.”

Get your finances sorted

 Arranging a mortgage can take several weeks, so it makes sense to start the process early.  It is best to have a lender’s agreement in principle about how much they would be willing to lend you, before making an offer on a property.  Estate agents and sellers will then know you are a serious buyer, and that you will be able to proceed quickly when the time comes.

You will need a formal mortgage offer before exchanging contracts.  Your lender will need to carry out detailed checks on your identity and finances.  Supply them with all of the information they require, promptly.  If they make their offer subject to certain conditions, discuss these with your conveyancer to ensure that you can satisfy them in the desired timescale.

Book your survey early

 Your mortgage lender will almost certainly require a valuation of the property, to make sure it provides sufficient security for the loan.  They will instruct their own valuer and usually charge you a fee.  It is important to understand that this valuation is for their benefit, not yours.  You should therefore arrange for your own survey or homebuyer’s report to be carried out in addition.

Take advice on which type of survey is most appropriate for the property you are buying.  A building survey is the most comprehensive report on the state of the property and, although it is the most expensive type of survey, it does not usually include a valuation.  A homebuyer’s report will give you detailed information about the property, but not as much as a full survey, and often includes a valuation.

Investigate the possibility of a combined valuation and survey, or condition report, with your lender.  A single surveyor can then carry out both at the same time.

Surveyors can be booked up for weeks ahead.  So, whichever type of survey you opt for, booking your survey at an early stage will help to avoid delays.

You should also allow yourself time to investigate any issues the survey reveals.  Some problems can even be anticipated.  For example, if you are buying an older property, it is more likely to have problems such as dry rot, damp or structural issues that may require further analysis.  By researching a list of specialists in advance, to provide an expert report and estimate the cost of remedial work if required, you could save yourself valuable time.

Instruct a good solicitor

The estate agent will want your conveyancer’s details as soon as your offer is accepted.  Your solicitor can then contact the seller’s solicitor, and get the conveyancing process started straightaway.

Using a conveyancer who is on your lender’s approved panel may save you time and money.  They should be familiar with the lender’s detailed requirements, and can act for both you and the lender.

However, the most important thing is to choose a lawyer who has a good reputation and in whom you have confidence.  The recent Stamp Duty Land Tax changes on additional residential properties has resulted in less cash buyers and those without a property to sell in the market resulting in longer chains and therefore greater dependency on other transactions.  This has heightened the need for a good solicitor who can react quickly where issues arise so as not to break the chain causing stress and abortive costs for those involved.

A good solicitor must be able to quickly respond to calls and emails.  Be wary of conveyancing outfits that charge low fees as these are often geared for high levels of transactions which inevitably affects service levels and the ability to keep you updated.  They will inevitably have limited time on your transaction.

Also be wary that many estate agents earn a fee for referring to a particular firm.  It is therefore best to get an independent recommendation and don’t just instruct whoever the estate agent suggests.

Identify issues early on

 A specialist conveyancer should identify potential problems with the property and suggest creative solutions.  For example, an application for retrospective planning permission may cure an apparent breach of planning law; alternatively, the seller may agree to arrange for an insurance policy to be taken out to guard against the risk of enforcement action being taken.

Nonetheless, obtaining the relevant information and agreeing a way forward takes time.  So, if you know about any issues affecting the property, tell your solicitor as soon as possible.

Speed up those searches

 Your solicitor will carry out a number of conveyancing searches, including a local authority search.  This reveals certain statutory matters, like planning enforcement notices, which could affect the property.

Turnaround times vary depending upon the local authority but they can take up to six weeks and become a major source of delay.  Having a proactive conveyancer will help, as they can start the process early and make the most of time-saving technologies like online search facilities.

It may be quicker for an agent to carry out the search in person, rather than the local authority officials.  However, not all lenders will accept personal searches.  Your solicitor can explain the options.

Manage the chain

 If you are in a chain, progress may be slow because of issues beyond your control.

A chain arises where one transaction depends upon another.  You can find yourself in a chain even if you are a first-time buyer.  For example, your sellers may experience problems with their purchase that could affect their sale to you.

Buying from somebody who is chain-free can eliminate this risk but always check the seller’s status with the agent and ask your conveyancer to confirm this.

Circumstances may change, so make sure you also get regular updates.

If you are in a chain, it is important to understand the dependencies.  Talk to your seller and their agent regularly.  Monitor what is happening with any related transactions and make sure everyone is working to the same target completion date.

Good communication can keep things on track and avoid any glitches.

If you are buying or selling a house, please contact Louis in our residential property team on 01566 772375 or email for advice on how we can help.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only.  They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.  Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances. 

Claire Wicks

Claire Wicks

Claire is a Chartered Legal Executive and works as part of our Residential Conveyancing Team having joined the firm in 2010. Claire studied with CILEx, the professional body for Chartered Legal Executives and is now a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.
Claire Wicks

Claire Wicks

Claire is a Chartered Legal Executive and works as part of our Residential Conveyancing Team having joined the firm in 2010. Claire studied with CILEx, the professional body for Chartered Legal Executives and is now a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.

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