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5 practical steps to speed up buying or selling property

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It’s often said that buying property is one of the most stressful experiences. Delayed timescales and uncertainty about when you’ll get the keys play a role in this. Research shows the process has gotten slower since 2008. Read on to find out what you can do to speed it up.

With so many people involved and different steps to take when you’re buying or selling a home, delays may be understandable, but they’re still frustrating. In some cases, a longer process could cost you money or even mean the sale falls through.

The average property transaction takes 133 days to complete

According to a report in FTAdviser, in England, it takes 133 days to complete a property transaction on average – that’s 80% longer than it was in 2007.

Some leading property organisations have written to housing secretary Michael Gove to call on the government to support improving the speed and efficiency of the process. The coalition of businesses says the current system causes needless stress and has a knock-on effect on the wider economy.

The letter argues lengthy delays mean people hold back on large-scale spending projects, like renovating or furnishing their new home. It also leads to more property transactions falling through, particularly at a time when interest rates are rising and mortgage terms may change if an initial deal expires.

The businesses want government support to create a “more efficient and better-connected market, where everyone benefits from shared data and insights”.

5 practical things you can do to speed up property transactions

While you won’t be able to avoid all delays, as many factors will be outside of your control, there are some practical steps you can take to make the transaction process smoother.

1. Apply for a mortgage in principle

A mortgage in principle isn’t a guarantee, but it can give you a better idea about how much you can borrow through a mortgage. It can make searching the market for a property you could realistically buy easier.

If you’re selling a property, you can request potential buyers have a mortgage in principle in place before they put in an offer. While this could lead to fewer offers, it can also minimise the risk of the sale falling through because the buyer is unable to obtain the mortgage they need.

2. Instruct professionals as soon as possible

When buying a property, you’ll often use the services of several professionals, including a mortgage broker, property surveyor, and conveyancing solicitor*.

It can take some time to find the right person for you. So, it may be a good idea to ask for recommendations from family or friends, and research businesses online when you’re first thinking about buying or selling property.

Once a transaction is in progress, instruct professionals to work on your behalf as soon as possible. They can then gather all your details so they can move forward quickly.

3. Get your paperwork ready

Buying or selling property involves a lot of paperwork. Getting your documents in order before they’re needed can make the process far smoother.

If you’ll be applying for a mortgage, you’ll usually need ID documents, three months of bank statements, and proof of your income.

When you’re selling a property, there are even more documents that you’ll need or are useful to have on hand. For instance, you must order an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before you can market your property. Buyers may also request other documents detailing work completed on your home and guarantees.

You may also ask a professional to look over your paperwork to ensure there aren’t any mistakes or missing information that could lead to delays. For example, you could ask a mortgage broker to review the supporting documents you’ll send as part of your mortgage application.

4. Complete tasks when prompted quickly

During the process, you’ll be asked to complete tasks. This could be to read and sign the contract, or to send additional paperwork. Try to complete these as quickly as possible so you’re not slowing down the progress.

Don’t be afraid to get in touch if you’re not sure about something – trying to decipher legal jargon or misreading requests could lead to delays. After you’ve completed tasks, it’s worth calling the professional you’ve appointed to ensure they have everything they need.

5. Be aware of potential issues

If there could be issues when you’re buying or selling a property, being aware of them as soon as possible is valuable.

For example, if you have a poor credit score and are worried about securing a mortgage, looking at your options before you put in an offer can be useful. A mortgage broker can offer advice about suitable lenders so you can search for your next home with more confidence.

Or if the property you’re selling is affected by works planned by the local authority, being upfront about these could mean potential buyers are less likely to pull out once you’ve accepted an offer.

Contact us to talk about your mortgage needs

If you’ll be taking out a mortgage to buy a property, finding the right deal for you could save you money. We can also help you search for a lender that’s more likely to approve your application and check your paperwork, so you minimise the risk of delays during this part of the process.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

5 practical steps to speed up buying or selling property

*The services promoted here are not part of The Openwork Partnership offering. These services are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Approved by The Openwork Partnership on 21/06/2023.