It is widely agreed that today’s housing market is a seller’s market. Buyer demand is through the roof and homes are selling at record pace, often for money well above the asking price. However, there are still some factors that can greatly hamper the speed of a sale, so property purchasing specialist, HBB Solutions, has compiled a guide on the main things that can delay the selling process.

Chain, chain, chain

One thing more than any other is responsible for delaying the selling process – a chain. A chain is created when one property sale is dependent on the completion of another, usually because buyers need first to sell their existing home in order to afford the purchase of their new home. Once a chain is broken, it can, at worst, cause linked sales to fall-through, or at best cause them to be subject to significant delays.

It’s not just fall-throughs that can cause chain delays. Delays can also occur because not all of the link sales are moving at the same pace – some buyers are more prepared and proactive than others; some mortgage agreements come through faster than others; and so on. Delays can even be down to the simple fact that one of the linked buyers has chosen to go on holiday.

The best way of avoiding chain delays is to allow agents and conveyancers to handle all communication between the various buyers and sellers. Relying on professionals to create and communicate timescales is the best way of ensuring everyone involved has a clear understanding of when their sale will be complete.

Quality of estate agents and conveyancers/solicitors 

Because efficiency and communication are so vital to successful, timely property sales, not least when chains are involved, it is essential that agents and solicitors excel in these areas. If a professional is either overworked or lazy, even the most simple processes, such as commissioning a Local Authority Search or preparing a contract, can take much longer than is necessary.

The first mistake that sellers often make is choosing to work with the estate agent who gives them the highest valuation quote or charges the lowest fee. This is because bad agents of poor reputation tend to be those who rely on high valuations or dirt-cheap fees to win business, while agents who are efficient and effective are able to let this reputation do the job for them. Sellers should, therefore, look for agents who have a strong efficiency record when it comes to helping their clients sell homes. The best way to ascertain this is looking at market data on the average time to sell, the average percentage of asking price achieved, or most simply, the reviews left by previous sellers.

Being reactive rather than proactive

Just as sellers need their agents and conveyancers to be proactive and efficient, they need to follow the same principles themselves if they are to minimise delays in the process. As such, it’s important to be readily available when paperwork needs completing and always be sure to return it promptly.

It’s also wise to be vigilant in ensuring that hired professionals are shifting their weight by checking-in once a week to make sure everything is still on track. And, for the sake of everyone involved, sellers should not choose to go on holiday halfway through the process.

Emotional attachment

It is important to have an emotional attachment to a property. This is what makes a house a home. But when it comes to selling, sellers are advised to remove themselves from this emotional hold.

Easier said than done, but vital because one must operate more with head than heart if they wish to avoid selling delays. An emotional attachment can lead to placing an unrealistic value on the home which can see it sit on the market for months on end with little interest. Furthermore, emotions can lead to sellers being too picky as to who they sell the house to which can also delay the sales process.

Missing documentation

Missing documentation is something that many sellers only become aware of when it’s too late. Being able to provide items such as gas certificates can be necessary to achieving a speedy sale. When preparing to sell, it’s important that sellers ask their conveyancer exactly what documents they will need to provide so that, if they cannot be found, the conveyancer can start proactively pursuing new copies.

Managing Director of HBB Solutions, Chris Hodgkinson, commented:

“It’s rare for a homeowner to hope that their sale will be a leisurely affair; rarer still for them to have no deadline they are required to meet. If you’re selling, it’s far more likely that you are moving for a new job, or because there will soon be the pitter-patter of tiny feet in your life. In other words, there is usually a sense of urgency to home selling.

“This makes delays in the process particularly stressful but, in truth, the only delay that is outside of your control is the dreaded chain. Other than that, a proactive attitude and sensible decision making can negate all major holdups and, more than anything, this means hiring the right professionals to assist you on your journey.

When choosing who to work with, reputation and track record are the most important things to consider. Don’t be strong-armed by pushy salespeople, and don’t be tempted by what, deep down, you know are unrealistically optimistic valuations.”

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Daniel Peacock

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