Who is to blame for property delays?

The property market finds itself at a critical juncture.

In one respect, agents, buyers and sellers are in a positive position. Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s decision to extend the stamp duty land tax (SDLT) holiday to 30th June, as well as the introduction of the SDLT nil rate band of £250,000 until 30th September, have fuelled further demand and activity across the market.

This has translated into impressive house price growth. According to Nationwide’s House Price Index, the annual rate of house price growth in May 2021 was 10.9%. 

A market under pressure 

With the government aiming to maintain confidence in the property market as the country transitions out of lockdown, the current rate of house price growth will come as welcome news. However, we cannot overlook the pressure currently being faced by businesses responsible for ensuring transactions are carried out. These range from mortgage providers and surveyors through to law firms and conveyancers. 

Since the initial announcement of the SDLT holiday, there is no denying the pressure these companies have faced. Working quickly to ensure deadlines can be met, even with the added complexities posed by Covid-19, has not been easy. Buyers and sellers want transactions to be completed as fast as possible, and prolonged delays in the process can put a deal at risk. 

Evidently, there are plenty of reasons as to why delays might incur. Some lenders may lack the resources to assess high volumes of applications and complete valuations, adding to the time it takes to have finance deployed. Other organisations, like conveyancers, may perhaps be inhibited due to a lack of adoption of technology and record volumes. 

That is why the property market has reached a juncture. While buyers and sellers are bullish — clearly keen to take advantage of the incentive offered by the government, conveyancers — lenders and legal firms are feeling the pressure. 

Stamping out inefficiencies

Thankfully, there has been a clear willingness from the property industry, and particularly conveyancers, to embrace technology over the past 12 months. New platforms that creatively utilise existing tech have drastically reduced the amount of time it takes for certain tasks to be completed. For example, eSignatures and automated communication are two avenues that cater to fast and transparent outcomes. 

This is a trend that must continue in the months ahead. The pandemic has forced the hands of many companies, leaving them no choice but to digitise their processes and services. In doing so, businesses have realised the benefits that tech can deliver and will no doubt prove vital in ensuring as many transactions as possible can be completed before the deadline.

All that being said, I still believe it is incredibly important not to overlook the stress and pressure being felt by those in the conveyancing and legal sector. In these uncertain times, the need to adhere to deadlines and process a huge number of deals, can feel overwhelming, meaning those involved in a property transaction ought to act with compassion and understanding. 

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