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What can hold up a house move?

Is your house move being delayed? Let us go through the possible causes of delay, and how to manage them.

It is tense, nerve racking, and takes time to move home, as we all know. Most people regard the majority of the process to be selecting the best property, organising a mortgage and saving up money for a deposit. In actuality, this is the point where the hard works starts.

As soon as you have found your ideal house the setbacks commence. For starters, you need to select a Conveyancing Solicitor, handle any renegotiation of the property price, and prepare the necessary papers for filing.

How can I determine why my house move is stalling?

Let us go through the causes of delay, and ways to manage them.

The chain

Having your property in a long chain is an obvious, yet still annoying, cause of delay. The complexity of your transaction depends on the length of the chain. Funds will have to be transferred up and down the length of the chain, from the first sale to the last purchase. Any problem with one transaction will affect all the other connections in the chain. Therefore any disputes over the asking price, or completion date, or any other conveyancing point hinders progress for everyone waiting in the chain.

Can I do anything to speed up the chain?

Sadly, not much can be done. If you find a suitable property with a shorter chain then, if the chain is at a standstill, you can withdraw from the transaction. Or you could warn the sellers and buyers in the chain that you might pull out, in order to get things moving, as your leaving will endanger the chain further.

The matter is further complicated by not always having knowledge about your position in the chain, or what is happening in related transactions. It is prudent to ensure that you have a place to live in case things do go wrong. Avoid terminating your rental agreement too soon, as you may end up homeless if completion is delayed.

You could arrange to stay with friend or family on a flexible basis. However they may be reluctant as it is hard to estimate how long the process could continue.


If there is a chance that you have to leave your current property before you have finished buying the new one, try to find a place to store your furniture and other possessions. If you can’t find a place with friends or family there are companies who offer storage with flexible terms and 24 hour access.

Buyers and sellers

It can be daunting and nerve racking to decide to purchase a property. After developing an emotional attachment to a house, there is a temptation to rush into a transaction, only to later become aware that your spouse doesn’t like it as much as you do, or the property is out of your price range.

During the transaction your circumstances might change, such as financial difficulties, a family illness, or a change in employment status. Sadly these changes may result in losing the buyer for your property, or not being able to buy the house that you were hoping for.

Purchasing from a couple who are breaking up or divorcing can cause a delay on your sale. The negotiations can go backward and forward due to each partner changing their minds about selling the property, or what amount they were expecting to receive.

In England and Wales the delay can be long, from making the first bid on the property, to finalising the sale of your property, which is a dilemma when carrying out a sale and purchase transaction. When you are selling, you can be held to ransom at some point if your buyer demands that the price be lowered otherwise they will walk away from the deal. Conversely, when you are buying, the seller may gazump you by accepting a better offer, blind siding you just when you are preparing to take possession of the property.

Circumstances can change for other people, not just for you, so you will need to adjust accordingly. How much you are prepared to make concessions depends on your desire to sell your old property or buy a new one. Otherwise you will have to go back to the drawing board and begin again.

If you have a good rapport with the person you are selling to or buying from, they are less likely to exploit the circumstances, however that is not always possible.


Much of the delay in the process is usually during the Conveyancing stage, as the filing must be done properly and it is very complex. The conveyancer or conveyancing executive must deal with the paperwork between the buyer and the seller through the other side’s solicitor, as well as dealing with the mortgage company, applying for searches, and other essential business.

Failing to fill in forms or contracts right, or not quickly returning them to your conveyancer, can extend the process unnecessarily, and should be easy to get right. Each occasion a form is incorrect and has to be changed may incur further time charges depending on your solicitor. Request assistance while filling in the information to make sure everything is done properly first time.

Save any files you might need to send out on your cloud storage so that, if they are requested, you could provide them promptly. Check our first time buyer article for more information.

Get your mortgage lender to approve your loan as early in the process as you can to reduce the chances of it becoming an issue at a later stage.

The time it takes to get searches done on the property can vary according to the capacity that HMLR (HM Land Registry) has to deal with them at peak times. Any items of interest about the property itself, or surrounding area, that may cause uneasiness will be revealed by the searched. Examples of these are road works, construction and anything with high environmental impact.

The conveyancing process can still be slow in some cases, where firms are still relying on paper based physical files, instead of electronic copies. A lot of legal practices are modernising, and offer applications which track your conveyancing matter all the way to completion, showing you the next steps. But generally progress is still slow.

If you are confident that your conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer understands your sale and is targeting a specific completion date, this will give you the best chance of success.

In order to talk over your case the conveyancing firm will assign a dedicated conveyancer, to manage your matter, who will be your main point of contact. Unless you prefer to visit your solicitor, there is no specific reason to appoint a conveyancer in your town.

When moving house you can feel helpless if you don’t have the latest updates about events taking place on your matter. Your conveyancing solicitor may be occupied with matters other than yours, and may fail to update you, especially if they have no significant progress to report.

Find out where you are in the procedure by getting in touch with your conveyancer. This will ensure they answerable and concious and keeping abreast of any progress. Setting a firm completion date can help focus everyone, if they can all settle on the same target.

Estate Agent

Your conveyancer needs to collaborate with your estate agent, as the process can be weakened if they do not cooperate. However, do not feel forced into using a conveyancing solicitor endorsed by your estate agent. Using their recommended conveyancer is not a guarantee that your matter will progress faster, and your agent will receive a commission for the referral.

Having a specific point of contact at your estate agency will be essential to obtain accurate updates about the status of your matter, particularly if your transaction forms part of a chain.

Recognise that the estate agent is employed by the seller, not the buyer, so they will better protect their interests. Nevertheless, they will gladly help with any of your queries in an interest to see the transaction completed. It will be beneficial to quiz them about the record of the house, previous owners, how many viewings they have had and whether they had any previous offers.

The estate agent cannot lawfully withhold any known problems about the residence which might affect your decision to purchase. You will want to know as soon as possible.


Once you have had a Chartered surveyor to come and inspect the property, you won’t need to wait long for the inspection report to be sent back. Surveys are generally fast, and the surveyor will not mind answering any questions you have about the results of the inspection.

The transaction can be delayed if you uncover something on the report which is of concern to you. It might find previous accounts of damage caused by damp and recommend that you ask to see evidence of damp proofing measures. The Building Survey could uncover asbestos, cracks or a boundary issue that may need investigating further.

The survey will detail the urgency of any issues, and the estimated price of the labour and/or materials, and it will be entirely your choice how to proceed. You could demand that the seller fixes any issues before you complete the transaction, or discuss a discount off the asking price to recover the costs.

Bear in mind that your mortgage company may also withdraw their loan on the basis of the outcome of the Building Survey. They may have policies preventing them from making loans on properties with particular issues.

It is always an option to withdraw from the purchase, and start again with another dwelling that does not have as many issues. You are not obligated to proceed if you are not happy.

Removal companies

When you get near the end of your property transaction you will need to organise a removal company. Choose a removals business who are flexible with time, as your completion date may not be fixed until near the end of the process. The sooner you can set the moving date with the other parties the better the guarantee that they will be available to help you on the day, as they may have other commitments.

The removals team should survey your property before completion day to gauge the size of van you will need and how much time the removals will take. Ultimately this will prevent any unforeseen problems or delays.

The removers will also need to know if you want them to dismantle any pieces of furniture, and put them back together at the new property. The removals team would need to prepare any tools they might need, and the service may incur an extra charge. If they find out on the day it could waste a lot of time, so let them know exactly how much furniture you have and what you need them to do. Pack up any small items into boxes in advance, to save being charged for extra hours.

Be ready to walk away

Despite the issues we have outlined, a large proportion of property purchases are simple and proceed quickly, as we wish it does in your case. However, if you do have problems, there are actions you can take. Ask questions about any delays, keep in contact with your agent and conveyancer, and be clear with all parties about your targets and requirements.

It is exciting when you want to move into your new home, but you must keep calm and be prepared for your completion date to change, and ensure you have a place to stay in the event you cannot move on your desired date.

When you have devoted so much time and energy into a property you can feel locked in to the transaction. Gazumpers can exploit your devotion and demand a higher asking price at the last minute. You can always walk away if the process becomes too painful, and the property would cause you suffering.

If the property is going to cost hundreds or thousands in unforeseen renovations, then it could be deemed a bad investment, and it is better to walk away. Take your time to ensure you are making the right choice, as purchasing a property is probably the biggest investment you will ever make.

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