Things that could go wrong in a conveyancing transaction

As with any legal transaction, the reality is that there are things that could go wrong during the conveyancing process. While maintaining a level head is wise during this emotional process it’s always best to be armed with the knowledge to know what could go wrong and if possible, what you can do to resolve the problem.

Your offer is gazumped by a new buyer

While this typically happens during the early stages of a property transaction it can also happen once you’ve commenced the conveyancing process. In England and Wales, until contracts are exchanged, the sale isn’t legally binding and, therefore, the vendor is well within the rights to accept a higher offer from a new buyer.

If this happens your options are either to assess if you could match the new offer or depending on how far into the conveyancing process you are the seller might be open to a negotiated offer that is halfway between your original offer and the new buyer’s offer. If the vendor wants to complete quickly it makes sense to keep the transaction with the original buyer as the conveyancing process is already underway.

The property searches, valuation/survey uncover a problem

During the conveyancing process, the buyer’s conveyancer is tasked with undertaking property searches and checks against the property. In parallel, the mortgage lender will instruct a valuation on the property and the buyer should also be encouraged to have a survey carried out on the property.

Several scenarios could be uncovered during these checks, such as the risk of subsidence to the property, or the mortgage lender reporting that the property value is not worth what the buyer is wishing to borrow.

An experienced conveyancer will always look to find a solution to resolve the problem where possible such as insurance against a risk, however, not all problems can be insured against, including, for example, the risk of subsidence.

If the issue is with the valuation of the property the buyer could either walk away from the sale or look to renegotiate the price based on the feedback from the lender. It’s within the seller’s interest to remain open-minded as this is likely to be an issue future buyers encounter if the sale were to fall through.

Delays caused by your conveyancer

While a buyer and/or seller will have a basic idea on how long it’ll take for a property sale to complete there may be a time where either party thinks there is an unreasonable delay in the conveyancing. Your first point of action here would be to find out from your solicitor or licensed conveyancer the reason for any delay.

You’re in a chain and one of the buyers pulls out

Being in a chain can be even more stressful than a straightforward non-chain transaction. Ensuring all property purchases go through simultaneously can be challenging and if, for whatever reason, one of the buyers pulls out it could lead to the entire chain to collapse.

However, there are a few things that could be done to ensure the chain moves forward in this scenario. If the problem is with your buyer or is further down the buyer’s chain, the buyer could look for another buyer or arrange a bridging loan until the property is sold. If the problem is with your seller, as the buyer you could consider looking for another home, go ahead with the sale of your home and arrange temporary accommodation.

Questions over your legal bill

Unlike a lot of licensed conveyancers, here at enact conveyancing our quote is fixed so there are no hidden surprises. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case with some solicitors or conveyancers and when the buyer and/or seller receives their final bill they might be in for a shock.

You should not pay the bill until you have checked that all the various costs are itemised. Speak to your solicitor or licensed conveyancer to explain anything you do not understand. Finally, if you are still not satisfied with the amount of the bill, you may wish to consider taking further action against the solicitor or complaining to the Legal Ombudsman in England and Wales, or the Law Society in Northern Ireland.

Negligence caused by your solicitor or licensed conveyance

At enact, as part of our commitment to the highest service standards, every stage of our customers’ transaction will be dealt with by a suitably experienced person and, as the largest independent conveyancer in the UK, you can be assured that your property transaction will be seen to completion smoothly and efficiently.

Regardless of who you choose to appoint to fulfil your property transaction, in the unlikely event that a matter is not to your satisfaction, we would always advise our customers to contact our Director of Conveyancing Operations, who will review the concern – this should be best practice with whomever you appoint to handle your sale and/or purchase.

If you feel that a matter has not been resolved effectively within 8 weeks of lodging your initial concern, you may contact the Legal Ombudsman within 6 months of receiving a written full response from your legal representative, subject to the complaint being received within the time scales prescribed by the Legal Ombudsman.

The timescales are currently the later of six years from the date of the act/omission and three years from the date the complainant should reasonably have known of the act/omission. The Legal Ombudsman will normally expect you to allow your legal representative to consider and respond to your complaint in accordance with the procedure set out above before they will consider it.

The above process is how best you should approach the issue of negligence with any solicitor or conveyancer.

Of course in many cases, conveyancing transactions are smooth-running and efficient, and if your conveyancer works as efficiently as they should, you’ll be able to rely on them to ensure that you can concentrate more on your new home, and less on the legal process of your sale and/or purchase.

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