Coronavirus impact on Conveyancing

As the housing market continues to benefit from the Government’s stamp duty holiday, and with residential transactions returning to pre-Covid-19 levels, we are noticing that Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having an impact on industry professionals working in private residential property.

In consequence, the Conveyancing Industry is currently advising that  the average national conveyancing transaction is taking nearly 5 months.

At Mason Baggott and Garton Solicitors our IT systems mean that we can securely work from home and process almost everything as we normally would in the office. We have adapted how we work so that our Conveyancing service can remain largely uninterrupted – instructions can often be taken by telephone, and the use of email (or the post) is invaluable for being able to send documents. Yet whilst we have put plans in place to ensure business continuity there are, unfortunately and undoubtedly, delays to usual timeframes. Delays are being reported with lenders, solicitors, the Land Registry and also at Local Authorities.

We know that the coronavirus outbreak coupled with the popularity of the stamp duty break is posing challenges over how certain day-to-day activities are completed which, in turn, is creating difficult conditions for all concerned in the conveyancing arena. By way of a single example, where search agents are undertaking Local Authority searches, terminals might be used which have to be cleaned between each appointment, reducing the number of appointments available each day.

Solicitors are reliant on third parties for many aspects of a conveyancing transaction, from other solicitors to mortgage lenders, to local authority and search providers. We are conscious that the whole system has slowed and the high number of variables makes it very difficult at the moment to predict an accurate timescale for any transaction.  With the stamp duty “holiday” set to end at the end of March 2021, we urge clients for whom stamp duty may be at issue to start making financial  and other contingencies, as assurances cannot be given that it will be possible to complete transactions before the stamp duty break ends.

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