Unprecedented pressure in the conveyancing market

Anyone involved in the conveyancing process at the moment, whether a property professional, seller or buyer will be all too aware of the unprecedented pressures which are causing significant delays to transactions. The rush to complete before the anticipated end of the SDLT 'holiday' on 31 March 2021 has led to the market overheating. In its January 2021 report Rightmove has produced some stark statistics which indicate not only the current logjam but also the fact that the market might be starting to cool. They report as follows:

  • 'Average price of property coming to market falls by 0.9% (-£2,887) this month, with some new sellers still hoping to tempt buyers and squeeze in a sale before the stamp duty holiday ends

  • New buyers unlikely to beat the deadline as average time to complete a purchase is now over four months

  • Logjam update: mammoth 613,000 sold subject to contract properties still awaiting legal completion, with Rightmove projecting around 100,000 will face an unexpected tax bill as they miss the 31st March cut-off

  • Nevertheless, visits to Rightmove are up by 33%, the number of buyers contacting agents is up by 12% and the number of sales agreed is up by 9% for January so far compared to the prior year

  • Despite temporary market closures in 2020, people's housing needs meant the number of sales agreed was up by 10% for the whole year versus 2019

  • More agents are now offering online viewings to help people find their next home safely, with home hunters encouraged to shortlist properties before choosing which ones to go and see in person'

It is generally acknowledged that any conveyancing transaction which is not yet well underway is highly unlikely to now beat the 31st March deadline. However, anyone who is considering marketing their property for sale should consider instructing their conveyancing lawyer early in the process; preferably before a buyer has been found. It can take some time to go through the identification and due diligence processes to get a file open and a seller will have to complete a number of forms and produce documentation regarding the property that they are selling. Whether facing the cliff edge of a deadline or not, a well-prepared seller is likely to find that their transaction proceeds more quickly and smoothly when a buyer is found.

To discuss this or any conveyancing matter, contact us.

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