What Can Hold Up the Sale of Your Home? Most Common Delays in the Chain

A hold up in the sale of your home can be very stressful and make people feel very anxious. On average, the conveyancing process can take between eight to twelve weeks but, in some circumstances, this can be delayed by up to 17 or 18 weeks.

In this feature, we take a look at the most common delays in the chain when it comes to the completion of conveyancing plus give you some advice about what you can do about them.


Even if you have appointed an effective, hard-working and experience solicitor, delays can sometimes occur with the conveyancing team somewhere else in the chain. These kinds of delays can be caused by understaffing, inexperienced solicitors or just plain inefficient companies.

The annoyance for you is that, even if your team is organised, the chain can only progress at the pace set by the slowest party.


There are only a couple of ways that you can affect the speed at which conveyancing occurs and avoid delays in this area.

Firstly, if you have any option over the timings of the sale of your home then try to avoid the summer holidays or the Christmas period. Both are known times when staff take leave and this can cause delays with understaffing.

Always choose a good solicitor for your own conveyancing who has experience in dealing with your local market and is familiar with any peculiarities in your particular property. If your property is a Listed building, for instance, then they should understand upfront any additional paperwork that needs to be completed for local authorities, English Heritage or specialist insurance firms.

common delays in buying a house listed properties

Image via Geograph.

Take as much control as you can with your own solicitors and get an upfront estimate of the anticipated timeline for the exchange and completion. Respond promptly to all requests for information and documentation and always take copies of any paperwork you return, just in case.

Lastly, if you have reason to chase the other people in your chain then document what has been said and confirm this back to them in an email. When things are put in writing then this can avoid confusion at a later date.

Local Authorities

Every house sale must include the completion of searches with the local authority. These are an essential element of the conveyancing process which will flag up any potential issues associated with:

  • Planned Developments
  • Tree Preservation Orders
  • Compulsory Purchase Orders
  • Conservation Area
  • Enforcement Notices for Breach of Planning Permission

Other searches can also be undertaken during the contracts process and may extend to include information on environmental and flooding risks.

Whilst these searches are usually completed within a few days, some local authorities can take several weeks to return these to your solicitor.


Make sure that you make prompt payment on account to your solicitor so that these searches can be paid for as quickly as possible. You can also chase your conveyancing team to follow up on these searches.

common delays in buying a house local authority searches

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Delays can sometimes occur with buyers failing to respond quickly to paperwork and this can be avoided by acting promptly and being organised.

However, a common cause of delay is when buyers fail to disclose to their solicitors and/or mortgage lender that the deposit for their mortgage has been gifted to them; this is quite common with first time buyers.

Mortgage lenders need to know that a deposit of this nature is a gift and does not need repaying therefore buyers should disclose this when they engage their solicitor. Paperwork will need to be drawn up which the provider of the gift will need to sign confirming the money is not expected to be paid back to them.


If you have received a gifted deposit for your mortgage then you should always notify your solicitor at the outset of the conveyancing process. You should also confirm with the gifting party that they will need to sign some paperwork and, potentially, provide ID.

Lease Management Companies

Buying a leasehold property comes with its own processes and can get quite complicated.

As well as the process of dealing with the leasehold owner, your solicitor will also need to obtain additional paperwork from the owner of the freehold, such as:

  • Ground Rent
  • Monthly Service Charges
  • Previous Accounts
  • Buildings Insurance

This documentation may come from a leasehold management company or from the ultimate freeholder.


If you are selling a leasehold property then contact the management company or freeholder early on in the marketing process to ensure they are aware of the imminent need for information.

It is important that when you are buying a leasehold property you are aware of the extra paperwork involved and adjust your expectations accordingly as to the length of the expected conveyancing process.

common delays in buying a house leasehold property

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Buyers, Sellers and Third Parties

The conveyancing process requires your solicitor to supply and request a lot of information and paperwork from many parties.

From speaking to the mortgage lender to processing survey results and dealing with discrepancies on the title deeds, your solicitor is the key to making sure the exchange of contracts happens without delay.


It is essential that you maintain regular contact with all parties involved in the sale/purchase of a property. Whether this is the estate agents, solicitors or directly with the buyers/sellers (where appropriate). Getting advance notice of any potential problems or concerns can help reduce delays at a later stage.

Always choose a solicitor who has either been recommend to you or that has good reviews from satisfied customers. They should be experienced in property conveyancing and have a track-record of being able to handle any issues that might crop up.

Lastly, before you even put your home on the market or make an offer on a property, you should make sure that you have all of your own ducks in a row. As a seller, you should ensure that all of the relevant paperwork related to your property is readily accessible and that your estate agent and solicitor can access this. Buyers should make sure that their mortgage offer is in place and that they have prepared all of their paperwork for their solicitor.

Get The Right Support

When it comes to minimising the delays, there is no better advice we can offer you than to make sure that you surround yourself with professionals.

Always make sure that you choose the conveyancing team you want to work with and don’t be forced into using one that is linked with an estate agency just because they say it will speed things up. Often they are referred simply on commission rather than as a judgement of their expertise. Quite a few online estate agents offer this along with their own services but they can end up being very costly and not gain you any advantages.

It is also worth remembering that your estate agent should also be doing all that they can to assist with the conveyancing process. Choosing a good agent who has a strong reputation for after-sales support is essential to help keep delays to a minimum. For this reason, it is worth considering the difference between those agents who get paid up front and traditional agents who work on a no sale no fee basis. Many online agents who get paid at the start of the marketing process have no incentive to keep sales on track or to help speed up the conveyancing after an offer has been accepted.

Break in the Chain? There is Another Way….

Unfortunately, delays are only one aspect of a chain that can cause anxiety and stress, the truth is that one in four house sales fall through before contract exchange. Costing the UK economy more than £270 million in wasted transaction fees, a collapse in the chain can cost money as well as time.

But, there is another way!

common delays in buying a house

Image via Pixabay.

Property Assistant are pleased to be able to offer a revolutionary new service which aims to eliminate the chances of this happening to you. An easy and effective solution which aims to slash the risk of a house-sale falling through, sellers sign up to this service and accelerate the legal paperwork to fast-track the conveyancing process in advance of an offer being accepted.

Effectively the title deeds are placed in Escrow and once a survey has been completed, the exchange can happen almost immediately. Offered at a cost of £250 per party (buyer pays upfront and seller pays on completion) the agreement becomes legally binding once the offer has been accepted so no gazumping, no gazundering and no delays between the two parties.

To find out more about, contact Property Assistant today on 0118 912 2370.

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