How To Put Pressure On Solicitors: Move House Faster
When you’re working to finish the sale of your home, maybe the most frustrating part of the entire process is conveyancing. It’s long, it’s confusing, and it’s the bit where it seems like almost everything can go wrong and create a delay in the overall process. Having your conveyancing solicitor speed things up may help, but knowing how to put pressure on a solicitor is a confusing, almost scary process at times. After all, your solicitor is about the last person you want to be angry with you. What can you do to make things move a bit faster? This quick guide can help.
Why The Process Seems Slow
One of the reasons so many people think the conveyancing process is so slow is because it’s actually a pretty complicated process, and when one small thing goes wrong, the entire process must grind to a halt until that issue can be worked out and resolved. In most cases, your solicitor isn’t simply going slow because he or she wants to do so. Instead, it’s often factors outside your solicitor’s control that are slowing the process.
Normal Speed vs. Slow Speed
In most home sales, conveyancing shouldn’t take longer than eight weeks. When you’re selling your property, the seller’s conveyancer is initially instructed, and he or she then confirms those instructions by laying down the terms of business. The proof of identity checks are performed, and the fittings and contents form is completed, as is the property information form. The conveyancing solicitor gest the title deeds as well as other documentation that is required from the Land Registry and the details of the mortgage. A draft contract is prepared at that point, and it is sent to the buyer’s conveyancing solicitor. The buyer’s solicitor checks it, raises any concerns, and the seller’s solicitor answers those. At that point, the seller and the buyer agree on a completion date, and contracts are then exchanged, legally committing both parties to the transaction. The seller’s conveyancing solicitor gets a settlement figure to repay the existing mortgage. The buyer’s conveyancing solicitor has to draft a transfer deed which is then sent to the seller’s solicitor. The seller’s solicitor checks that, then sends it to the seller for a signature. Once it’s complete, the seller agrees to leave the property at a certain time and date, makes arrangements to hand over the keys through an estate agent, and the buyer’s conveyancing solicitor sends the proceeds of the sale to the seller’s solicitor. The title deed is transferred, the seller’s solicitor pays the estate agent, themselves, and the mortgage company, and the remaining money is transferred to the seller.
Keep in mind, though, that just because this should take six to eight weeks, that doesn’t always happen. What might get in the way? Lots of potential problems are just waiting around the corner to interfere with your timeline.
The Possible Problems
So, what happens when things don’t move that quickly? Here are just a few things that can slow the overall process.
- Enquiry Issues: If your solicitor has made an enquiry and he or she hasn’t gotten a satisfactory response, they may have to work to resolve the issue. In some cases, they may have to actually stop the process completely until they can get the right response or have the issue fixed.
- Mortgage Problems: Most homebuyers today must have a mortgage to buy a property, and both buyers and sellers can have to deal with mortgage lenders to make the process go through. A solicitor, then, must work with those same lenders. If the lenders are fairly slow, your solicitor will have to work fairly slowly, too. While some lenders are just slow, others are slow because you didn’t respond to certain requests for information or you didn’t have certain documentation ready on time.
- Not Everyone Responds Quickly: A home sale can only move as quickly as all of the parties involved can move, and that could include the estate agents, the buyers, or the sellers themselves. If one party is acting slowly, that may mean a slower overall conveyance process. Everyone in the group must respond to enquiries as fast as possible and sign contracts if the solicitor involved is going to move forward.
- Complex Transactions: In a perfect world, every home sale would be the same, and the process would be the same to follow for conveyancing solicitors again and again. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Each home sale is different, and lots of things could happen. For example, there could be a serious problem with the property that must be addressed. Your solicitor might be having trouble digging up the necessary documentation on your home. It could even be that building regulations have gotten in the way somewhere along the line, but the proof wasn’t properly filed. All of that spells real delays for your solicitor.
- Slow Survey Results: A house survey must be completed before the home can be sold, and home surveyors aren’t always as fast with the reports as the other parties would like them to be. Sometimes home surveys are fairly lengthy or the properties are incredibly large. Conveyancing can’t go forward without survey results, and that may slow your solicitor considerably.
Is the Solicitor Ever the Problem?
It is possible that the transaction is moving slowly because of your solicitor. For example, if he or she is acting slow, it’s possible that there’s just too much going on in the office at the moment. Because the property market has been so hot lately, conveyancing solicitors have been very busy, and given that the government has put lots of new policies in place to change the housing market, you may notice more delays than usual right now.
Moving Things Ahead Quicker
You can also respond as quickly as you can to any enquiries on your part. If you get a contract or something else that needs to be signed, handle it immediately.
Sometimes the process is slowed because everyone involved is part of a chain. This happens when you’re trying to sell your house and buy another at the same time. If you can, avoid the process. These chains have a way of slowing everything because one transaction relies on another, and if one sale falls through, so will the other one.
Additionally, be sure you actually have your solicitor in place before you actually start the process. While this tip actually applies to both buyers and sellers, it’s an important one. If you know who you’re going to use, they can be in your corner quite quickly and ready to take action as soon as you’re ready to place a bid on a home. They will help you speed up the process if they’re in place from the first moment you decide on your dream home.
You may also want to consider a property that can be put under an STC order – or a Sold Subject to Contract – so that no other buyers come along and put an offer in. This can significantly slow the process, as until you exchange contracts, the seller is under no legal obligation to continue working with you. If another buyer comes along and puts in a higher offer, the seller may decide to work with them instead.
If you’re the one selling your home, there are also things you can do to speed up the process. It starts when you prepare all of your paperwork in advance. Even if you’re sure you know who is buying the property, gather absolutely everything you can like warranties, planning permissions, certifications, and anything else a potential buyer might want to see.
It’s as important for sellers to respond quickly as it is for buyers. A seller will have enquiries to which he or she must respond, too, and there are contracts involved in this process as well. The sooner you can get that stuff answered or signed, the sooner the process can move forward.
Having your solicitor in place as soon as you decide to sell your home is important as well. Just being on a solicitor’s calendar so they know they may have to jump into action quickly for you can actually help things go faster than you imagined.
Putting the Pressure on Your Solicitor
So now that you know a bit more about the process, what can slow it down, and what you can do to speed it up, knowing when to put some pressure on your solicitor can help too. Here are a few tips you may want to try.
- Work With Your Estate Agent: If you’re looking to learn how to put pressure on your solicitor, it may help to know that your estate agent wants this deal done just as much as you do. They don’t get paid until the end of the process either, so working continuously with them may mean having someone who is willing to put a bit of pressure on your solicitor for you. Have your estate agent continuously check in with your solicitor on either a daily or a weekly basis to remind them how urgent things are for you.
- Use Other Contacts: If your solicitor tells you that the other party’s solicitor is actually the one who is slowing the process, contact the other party directly and ask them to get involved. That helps to put some pressure on the solicitor without you doing so directly. Keep in mind that you can’t legally ring the other party’s solicitor, as they cannot legally speak to you because they are not acting on your behalf.
- Add a Deadline: You may need to give your solicitor a deadline for the overall process to help pressure them into meeting your target. That can also help mean you don’t have to continually nudge them as you all have the same date in mind.
- Use Your Mortgage: If you’re mortgaging the property you’re buying that may be just the nudge your solicitor needs. Mortgages have an expiration date, and that is often enough to help drive a solicitor forward.
When It Doesn’t Work
If your solicitor is still slower than you’d like, you will likely only have two remaining options.
- Consider a Complaint: If things are actually moving slowly, you may actually want to complain. You can either complain to them directly or escalate your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman if you have a serious issue. Keep in mind, though, that this should only be used as a last resort. No one likes to be complained about, and while escalating that complaint may help your solicitor kick things into gear, it may also frustrate them.
- Consider a Solicitor Switch: If things really aren’t going well, you can change solicitors during the process. Just telling your solicitor that you’re considering a switch may be enough to make things happen quickly. It is possible that the switch could further slow the process, but it may also speed things up as well.
How Often to Contact Your Solicitor
So, what’s reasonable in terms of contacting your solicitor as you’re hoping to keep the process moving forward? There’s not really a right or wrong answer. You can certainly check in with your solicitor on a daily basis if you feel you must, though that will quite likely annoy him or her. Checking in weekly, though, isn’t out of the question. That can help you learn more about where the process currently is and what’s coming next. Remember, though, that it’s actually your solicitor’s job to update you, so you shouldn’t need to reach out. Only do so if you think you’re not getting the answers you deserve.
Choosing the Right Solicitor
One of the single best things you can do to speed up the process is to select a conveyancing solicitor with whom you’ll work well from the beginning of the process. Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, you may first want to chat with family, friends, and neighbours to see which solicitors they’ve used in the past. At some point, someone you know has likely been through the home sale or home buying process and having someone they might recommend on your side can be quite helpful. What’s more, though, is that you’ll know exactly what to expect. You may also be able to check what previous clients have said about a solicitor through online reviews.
When you have a fairly short list of solicitors to consider, you’ll want to do a few things. First, if you’re a buyer, you’ll want to be sure the solicitors you’re considering are on your mortgage lender’s panel. If they aren’t, your lender may actually refuse to lend you the money, which could slow things down a bit. If they’re not, though, you can still ask them to register with the lender, but if time is of the essence, that may slow things down some, too.
Both buyers and sellers will want to consider the fees involved with a given conveyancing solicitor. These fees can range quite a bit depending on your solicitor’s location and reputation. Buying a home (and selling one) can be quite stressful in terms of the overall financing process, so be sure their fees are in your budget. Don’t just look for the cheapest professional, though, because that may mean poor overall service that might be slower than you’d initially expected. These fees can vary quite widely, so you may want to do some reading about what can affect the fees they charge and what conveyancing solicitors in your local area charge while you’re still in the early stages of searching.
Additionally, you should check the credentials of any solicitor you’re considering. Those individuals with more experience are likely able to handle the conveyancing process faster than those who are new to this arena. You may also want to choose someone who has a deeper knowledge of the area in which you’re making a purchase. Some people choose to hire a solicitor in a different area because their rates are more attractive, but that could actually slow things down. Some solicitors specialise in certain locations, and that specialisation could translate to additional speed for you.
When you feel as if you’ve found the right solicitor to meet your needs, consider booking a one-on-one interview so you can ask any questions you may have. Be sure you talk about the fee structure and anything that could make that fee structure change. Additionally, you’ll want to be sure you understand how much communication you can expect as the process unfolds and how you can reach out to them should you feel as if the process isn’t really going as quickly as you’d like.
A Note About Estate Agent Recommendations
Many estate agencies often recommend solicitors to both their buying and selling clients. There’s a reason for that. Estate agencies have lots of financial challenges these days, and one way they can make up for lost profits is to put an agreement into place with local conveyancing solicitors (as well as other local professionals like surveyors to help complete other pieces of paperwork for the home sale to go through). For every client they refer, they actually get a bit of extra money in referral fees from the solicitor involved. That’s typically why an estate agent will recommend one conveyancing solicitor over another. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you don’t know the area, selecting your own conveyancing solicitor may mean you get better quality service for a better price than if you go with the solicitor your estate agent recommends.
A Few Final Notes
You simply can’t buy and sell homes in the UK without the help of a conveyancing solicitor. They’re an important part of the process, but they can also be the one person within the process to slow things down considerably. There are many ways to negate this, but the single most important one is to choose the right solicitor at the outset. It’s the key piece of the puzzle whether you’re buying or selling a home. A well-qualified solicitor who understands the area and communicates clearly and often can help eliminate the stress so many people feel in the home buying and selling timeline. You likely have a lot on your plate right now, and concentrating on all of the smaller pieces like your new home, removals services, and just the smaller details of home ownership is tough enough on its own without having to feel like you have to put pressure on anyone involved, particularly your conveyancing solicitor. Fortunately, these tips will not only help you choose the right solicitor to add to your team and help you know when to add a bit of pressure if things are moving far too slowly.