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Conveyancers ‘over capacity’ with ‘huge backlogs’ building as property sales fastest in four years

  • 21/09/2020
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Conveyancers ‘over capacity’ with ‘huge backlogs’ building as property sales fastest in four years
The UK property market is highly congested and suffering delays with almost 40 per cent more transactions currently proceeding compared to the same period last year, according to Rightmove.


As a result, the property listing site warned of “solicitors over their capacity” and that those wishing to complete before the stamp duty cut deadline should allow “at least an extra month”.

Remarkably, it added that property sales across the nation were down only five per cent compared to the same point last year despite the closure of the housing market during lockdown.

The East of England and South East were already four per cent and one per cent respectively ahead of 2019 totals.

Scotland and Wales were lagging behind, down 21 per cent and 16 per cent respectively, due to their later reopening.

Nationally, sellers in August took on average just 53 days to find a buyer for their property, the shortest period in more than four years and a full eight days less than the previous quickest of 61 days in March.

Rightmove confirmed the sale time was last at 53 days in July 2016 and was 50 days in May 2016.

Property values also maintained their post-lockdown level with vendors posting an average asking price of £319,996 – on par with August’s £319,497 and up five per cent on the figure from September 2019.

Regions outside the South of England have seen the strongest price jumps, with Yorkshire & the Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, North East, North West and Scotland all at new record asking prices.


Huge backlogs building

Rightmove director of property data Tim Bannister explained just how significant the market rush was and the effect this was having on transaction completions.

“We’re hearing of challenges at all steps of the buying and selling process, including lenders having to deal with a higher number of mortgage applications and solicitors over their capacity, and we estimate there are nearly 40 per cent more sales currently going through than at this time last year,” he said.

“The temporary stamp duty holiday means there’s more urgency than usual for the congestion to be cleared by the end of March, making it vital for buyers and sellers to work closely with their estate agent and to make sure that they’re moving fast when the ball is in their court to complete a document or answer questions.

“We’d advise that buyers and sellers factor in at least an extra month to account for the current delays in the process, if possible, as time is already running short for sales that are agreed now to be completed by Christmas.”

Benham and Reeves director Marc von Grundherr, echoed these concerns, adding: “We’ve seen such an overwhelming demand in recent weeks that huge backlogs are starting to build at the legal stages of the selling process.”



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