Sellers also feel the pain of a system that cannot cope. In February 2007, the average sale took 102 days. Today, the process takes 157 days, or more than five months.
Hold-ups increased at every stage of the process. The wait time for a mortgage offer has jumped 26% in two years, while wait times for conveyancing deeds hit a record 59 days.
Bureaucracy has been a major problem, Brown said. The 2014 Mortgage Market Review increased the number of checks and balances required for every mortgage application. In 2017, the government also strengthened anti-money laundering requirements.
Tom Parkinson of the Conveyancing Association, a trade body, said the back and forth that comes with those extra checks can add weeks to the buying process. The administration has also been greatly amplified by the rise of the so-called “Mommy and Daddy’s Bank”, he added. For each purchase, many more parts need to be checked.
At the same time, over the years, shrinking fee margins in the conveyancing industry have reduced the workforce, Brown said. The closure of the housing market in 2020 has made the situation worse. “During Covid and the housing market shutdown, a lot of good people were lost in the industry because they were furloughed and decided to leave and retrain,” Mr Parkinson said. .
The government’s decision to end the housing market shutdown in May 2020 caused a tidal wave of activity just as transport companies had lost staff and grappled with the challenges of working at distance.