Conveyancing ‘log-jam’ as properties taking longer to get from under offer to exchange

Properties are taking longer to get from sales agreed to exchange, Rightmove said this morning.

It said that the time taken to get sales over the line is now at a five-year high.

The portal’s data for August shows that the number of properties listed as Sold Subject To Contract is up by 6.1% annually – to the highest number for four years – but they are staying listed with that status for longer.

Rightmove does not provide a figure for sales agreed but said the number of properties listed as SSTC is now at its highest level since June 2014, which it claimed suggests a “log-jam in the legal process”.

This is echoed by separate analysis by Rightmove that tracked listings from displaying SSTC to completion at the Land Registry and found the process took 109 days on average in 2018.

This was up from 107 days in 2017 and 103 in 2016.

Rightmove’s figures for this month show that asking prices for properties new to the market increased by 1.2% annually but fell 1% on a monthly basis, to average £305,500.

Time on the market for July was flat on a monthly basis at 62 days, but up from 57 a year ago.

Average stock per agent was also up in July to 54.4 properties, compared with 53.3 in June and 52.5 a year before.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, said: “It’s an anxious time for all involved once a sale has been agreed subject to contract, and that includes the estate agent whose livelihood depends on the sales going through rather than falling through.”

Sprift 3 end of article

Email the story to a friend


  1. Rob Hailstone

    Suggesting a “log-jam in the legal process”. A bit of a wide expression, searches, mortgages, public choice, chain breaks or delays, or legal issues?

  2. smile please

    Two biggest delays


    1. Conveyancers attitudes.

    2. Inexperienced or inept agents tieing  a deal up that should not be.

  3. TwitterSalisPropNews

    Totally agree. I suspect vast numbers of conveyancers would too.
    We have far too many sales/purchases that are sitting ready, but we cannot get them exchanged.
    Why? In no particular order…..
    1. Inept conveyancers – who fail to treat their clients’ file as if it were their own…so they limp along, raising enquiry after enquiry, plodding. The culprit are the conveyancers in law firms who have no career move chance. No progression. Or the ones already at the top who don’t care either. Maybe without a bonus structure to keep motivated/dynamic
    – and estate agents who would rather cause their own deal to limp along by accepting cash bungs from rubbish conveyancing outfits than place a customer looking for conveyancing with a dynamic law firm who would offer pace and error-free legal work.
    2. Estate Agents who feel so under pressure fees wise that they just take any offer and put a chain together but don’t vet the buyer’s viability
    3. Estate Agents who give up the moment an offer is accepted/who fail to keep involved during the legal process to help the conveyancers/chain….so the deal plods along, and conveyncers cannot work out who is the chain nor can they chase along it. 
    It’s the worse it’s been in 20 years. I cannot see anything changing, as estate agent commission is being squeezed lower and lower still, and far too many law firms just accept any old CV. We reject vast numbers of CVS only to see the canididate turn up employed, and living out our suspicions – they are very poor at the job.

  4. RedRebel

    It’s the worse it’s been in 20 years. I cannot see anything changing, as estate agent commission is being squeezed lower and lower still, and far too many law firms just accept any old CV. We reject vast numbers of CVS only to see the canididate turn up employed, and living out our suspicions – they are very poor at the job. The conveyancer is more concerned about the lending source and doing what they say rather than the agent or the seller / buyer

  5. RedRebel

     The conveyancer is more concerned about the lending source and doing what they say rather than the agent or the seller / buyer


    oh what a tough one, no synergy between stake holders in a process that hasnt changed for 150yrs.

    The end game is that no one gets paid until the deal is done, yes conveyancers can charge a % and the estate agents/mortgage advisers dont realise their fee until it completes = many hours of effort for nothing.

    Searches; everyone is beholden to the council for these, Camden now at 50 working days, Derby at 30+.. the other 348 are also all different

    Solicitors; the right one is key, i agree. Large referral fee’s vs service is asking for trouble but also the need for higher fee’s due to Tenant Fee ban is forcing this hand. Some solicitors however wont order searches until mortgage offer is in, see point one… that can add crazt amounts of time to the transaction. I do however see some that are destined to prove they are worth their fee, not help close it quickly to get the file off their desk. Experience does help.

    Estate agents/clients; frustrated by the apparent lack of action from the solicitors. If they dont hear from them they assume the worst. Calling them every day however does nothing more that add more time answering queries than progressing the files.

    The above is no ones fault, yet everyone is somehow to blame.

    At 4Corners Property, Its a good job we are working on a solution to reduce the chains by at least 5 weeks. Watch this space.



  7. Alan Murray

    Those of us working in conveyancing know this, and know the reasons why. Ridiculously only last week one of the factories wouldn’t exchange with me because they didn’t have replies to requisitions, and their system wouldn’t let them proceed further until that box was ticked. Utterly ludicrous whatever happened to common sense? But these people simply do not know what they are doing, and more significantly why they are doing it.

    I agree it is many years since the market has been as now. So difficult to get files exchanged, without any obvious reason as to why. We all know there are many inept, poor conveyancers out there, with whom it is impossible to form any working relationship, who make no effort to assist. To be fair their lack of experience means they have not worked in a market like todays, to them every day is the same, boxes to be ticked and files to be passed to the next line manager in the chain, so they are not going to work any differently.

    Those of us who have been round many years long for the good old days when the job was done properly and efficiently yet we are the ones called dinosaurs. Technology is the answer we are always told yet for all the tech firms have the job has never been harder. Yet having the best technology can just mean you are a bad firm but with all the bells and whistles when you are so difficult to deal with. There is no substitute for experience and competence, and the worse things become the more that statement continues to be proved correct.

  8. Country Boy

    The new incurable cancer in this Country caused by our MP’s and thei Civil Servants

    1) Fast track back just one decade and look at the preliminary enquires forms, I seem to recall two or three sheets of A4.

    2) Recall Dave Cameron our previous but two Prime Ministers?

    3) Recall his promise to cut back on red tape?

    4) Go back to 1) above and now count the number of A4 sheets that have to be completed – could this be the reason?

    NOW do please think back ten years and recall how many new regulations covering, employment, health and safety, property law both new and updated, is it any wonder we now have less time to run our business?

    We all have two businesses now to run – our own and red tape caused by MP’s and their civil servants with no idea of the real world, until the incurable cancer they are creating stops us doing any business and taxes stop being paid.

    Is it not about time we made MP’s sit an exam in common sense and get a similar qualification that they now want to lumber every estate agent with?



  9. Fairfax87

    Tim at Trethowans (TwitterSalisPropNews) is fast off the block as always, blaming referral fees .. SO BORING!    The reality is:

    – lender requirements on lawyers just get more and more onerous.. and if a lawyer fails to cover every single thing that the lender expects of them under the CML Handbook, they are exposed to litigation from that lender. All the additional enquiries, expanded Sellers Info Forms, endless questions on source of deposit all spin out from this.. and customers don’t help themselves by being economic with the truth

    – customers “wanting their cake and eat it” – it suits them to sit on things until it suddenly suits them to expect everything to have gone through yesterday… the massive uncertainty around Brexit, and the rash statements about moving Stamp Duty liability to Sellers just makes all of this worse

    – massively inept and counterproductive sales progression from some estate agents.. the more they chase, the more it can actually prevent the case being worked on

    – Brokers increasingly putting their oar in, and doing similar inept chasing, with a similar impact.  Ditto Mortgage Processing Units.

    A single transparent repository of information on chain/transaction progress would be massively helpful – have a look at MIO for instance.. but this will not be able to be fully effective until everyone co-operates and shares their updates on progress openly.  I can’t see this happening any time soon unfortunately.


You must be logged in to report this comment!

Comments are closed.

More top news stories

Thank you for signing up to our newsletter, we have sent you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Additionally if you would like to create a free EYE account which allows you to comment on news stories and manage your email subscriptions please enter a password below.