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How long after searches to exchange and completion?

How to speed up the time between searches and exchange?

What is a reasonable time between exchange and completion?

Explaining how long do property searches take & what happens at completion.

How long between exchange and completion in 2023

Approximately 4-6 weeks. When it comes to the process of moving house, it is essential to recognise that there are numerous factors that can influence the timeline, with the length of time taken being a significant consideration.

If you are seeking to sell your house promptly, understanding the duration of each stage and its impact on the overall selling time is crucial.

Following property searches, the time taken to reach the exchange stage can vary. Typically, property searches involve inquiries conducted by the buyer's solicitor or conveyancer to gather relevant information about the property.

These searches may include local authority searches, environmental searches, and water and drainage searches, among others. The time required to obtain the search results can vary depending on the location and complexity of the property, but it is advisable to allow a few weeks for this process.

After the searches are completed, the exchange of contracts can take place. The timeframe between searches and exchange depends on various factors, including the responsiveness of all parties involved, the complexity of the transaction, and the negotiation of any additional terms or conditions.

On average, this stage can take anything between 4-6 weeks, but it is important to note that it can vary.

Finally, completion, which is the point at which ownership of the property is transferred, can occur shortly after the exchange or may be scheduled for a later date, depending on the parties' preferences and arrangements. It is important to consult with your solicitor or conveyancer to determine the specific timeline for completion in your situation.

To expedite the overall process, there are several actions you can take. Firstly, ensuring that all

required documents and information are readily available and promptly provided to your solicitor or conveyancer can help streamline the process. Additionally, maintaining open lines of communication with all parties involved and promptly addressing any queries or requests for information can help facilitate a smoother and quicker transaction.

In summary, while there are factors beyond your control when it comes to moving house, understanding the timeframes for property searches, exchange, and completion is essential. By proactively engaging with professionals, organising required documents, and maintaining clear communication, you can contribute to expediting the overall process.

What are Pre-contract enquiries?

Pre-contract enquiries take place between your house going ‘Sold STC’ and the exchange of contracts. The enquiries are raised by your buyer’s conveyancer, and they will have to receive answers they’re happy with in order for the sale to proceed.

The pre-contract enquiries are the start of the conveyancing process, and the enquiries tend to relate to the title, rights and obligations over the property and/or the underlying land.

General queries you will see raised at this stage will relate to:

Boundary checks

These involve investigating and verifying the boundaries of a property before entering into a legally binding contract. These checks ensure a clear understanding of boundaries, minimising the risk of disputes or encroachments.

Allocated parking spaces

These checks entail a thorough examination and confirmation of the designated parking spaces associated with a property prior to entering into a legally binding contract.

These checks serve to provide the buyer with precise details regarding the assigned parking areas, thereby mitigating any potential uncertainties or conflicts arising from parking arrangements.

Land restrictions

Land restrictions can include planning restrictions, conservation area regulations, rights of way, or other legal limitations that affect the use or development of the land. It is crucial for buyers to conduct thorough due diligence on these restrictions to assess their implications and ensure compliance with the relevant legal requirements.

EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) issues

Any issues flagged up on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) refer to identified concerns regarding the energy efficiency of the property.

These issues could include recommendations for improvements to enhance energy performance, such as insulation upgrades or heating system modifications, which buyers should consider and address as part of their due diligence before entering into a legally binding contract.

Terms and costs of the leasehold (if applicable)

The specific conditions and financial obligations associated with the leasehold arrangement of a property.

It is crucial for potential buyers to thoroughly examine and understand these terms, including lease duration, ground rent, service charges, and any other relevant provisions, to make informed decisions and accurately assess the long-term financial commitments before entering into a contract.

Shared utility supply (gas, water, electric)

Refers to the arrangement where multiple properties or units share the same gas, water, or electric supply. It is important to understand the specifics of this shared utility supply, including any relevant agreements, responsibilities, and costs associated with the contract.

Building regulations and certificates (electric, windows, gas, etc)

Building regulations checks and certificates involve ensuring that the property meets the required standards for areas such as electric installations, windows, and gas systems.

It is important for buyers to conduct these checks to ensure compliance and obtain the necessary certificates as proof before proceeding with the purchase.

Any constraints on altering the building, for example, if it’s a listed building

Checks and  examines the limitations or restrictions imposed on making changes to the property. These checks ensure that potential buyers are aware of any specific regulations or permissions required.

Any relevant planning permission

A comprehensive examination of the property to determine if there are any existing planning permissions in place or if additional permissions are required for intended alterations or developments.

Any non-standard elements involved (such as if it’s a probate sale)

These checks ensure that potential buyers are informed about any specific requirements, legal considerations, or complexities associated with the non-standard elements before entering into a contract.

Conveyancers will likely be very thorough with these enquiries, as once they’re satisfied with the results, the sale can progress towards exchange of contracts, where the deal will become legally binding.

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What are conveyancing searches?

The main searches when buying a house typically include environmental searches, water and drainage searches, local authority searches, and land registry checks.

These searches are essential in assessing potential risks and obtaining crucial information about the property, such as environmental hazards, water and drainage connections, planning permissions, and ownership details. Conducting these searches is vital to ensure buyers have a comprehensive understanding of the property and any relevant factors that may affect its value or use.

What are the 3 main searches when buying a house:

  • Local authority search – looks for planning, pollution and building control issues. There are two different types of Local Authority search, with one being a generic council search and the other being done by a company that is registered with the Property Codes Compliance Board, with the second option covered by insurance, meaning there’s more reassurance. The search will also be conducted in two parts – LLC1 and CON29

  • Environmental search – this search looks at whether the property has been built on or near contaminated land, waste, or landfill site. This search also does a basic search for any landslip or subsidence issues and for potential flooding issues. This will be a basic check, however, and for a proper flood risk check, you will need…

  • Drainage and water search – this search looks to find out where all the drainage systems are around the property and whether there’s a future risk of those affecting the property. This will be a useful search if you’re wanting to build an extension, as it provides you with more information about where all the drains run.

Additional conveyancing searches include:

  • Flood risk search – this search looks for the risk of flooding (as you may have guessed). This search is most essential if you’re buying a property near water, as these are naturally more at risk and are therefore harder to insure

  • Land registry search – this search checks whether you, the seller, are the legitimate owner of the property and if any bankruptcy has taken place. The title plan and title register searches can also be included in this section as the documents are purchased through the Land Registry website. The title register has details about who owns the property and the land and how it has been paid for. The title plan is a map that will show the location and boundaries of the property

  • Coal and general mining search – these look for old tunnels which have been used for coal, brine, or salt mining in the past. The old tunnels can put the property at risk of subsidence (which is sudden or gradual sinking of the ground surface)

  • Chancel repair search – this search checks a property’s responsibility for the cost of repairs of the local parish church. This could be something that isn’t mentioned in the title and so if you’re concerned, this search is something worth doing

  • High-speed rail search – this search checks whether a property is affected by the planned new high-speed railway, HS2

After the conveyancing searches have been done, there will be a delay between the conveyancer getting the results back and being able to make a report, which will allow the sale to progress towards exchange.

This means you may have to wait around to several weeks, or longer, until you hear back about the result of the searches.

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How long after searches to exchange?

The timeline from searches to exchange in a property transaction depends on various factors, including the time taken for the search results to be obtained and the nature of the findings. Once the search results are received, if any issues arise, the resolution process may prolong the time to reach the exchange stage as parties involved will need to address and resolve these matters satisfactorily.

The buyer's conveyancer will compile a report outlining any potential problems identified during the searches, which may be used for renegotiating the price, if necessary. The exchange of contracts can progress once the buyer and their mortgage lender are satisfied with the search outcomes and any related negotiations.

Typically, it takes approximately 3 to 6 weeks for the search results to be returned to the conveyancer, and then an additional few weeks for the conveyancer to prepare the report. Therefore, as a general estimate, it can take between 4 to 6 weeks from the initiation of searches to the exchange of contracts.

It is important to note that these timelines are subject to variation depending on the complexity of the transaction, the responsiveness of all parties involved, and any specific circumstances related to the property or search results. It is advisable for individuals engaging in a property transaction to consult with their conveyancer to obtain a more accurate timeframe based on their unique situation.

How long do searches take?

The length of time taken for searches will differ depending on location, size of house and land, condition of the property, etc. But as a general guide, use the table below:

Type of searchAmount of time taken
Local AuthorityCan take up to several months
Drainage and water1 to 10 days
Environmental1 to 10 days
Flood risk1 to 10 days
Coal and general mining1 to 10 days
Chancel repair1 to 10 days
Land registry1 to 10 days

Statistics from The Advisory

As high-speed rail search is a fairly new search there’s not a lot of data on how long it takes, but it’s believed to not take any longer than 10 days.

How long after searches to completion?

As we previously mentioned, it will take around 6 to 8 weeks from searches to exchange, which will then mean there’s another 2 to 4 weeks from exchange to completion.

It's important to note that the duration of property searches should be considered in the overall timeline between exchange and completion.

Buyers and sellers, along with their solicitors or conveyancers, should plan accordingly, allowing sufficient time for the searches to be completed, reviewed, and any related matters to be addressed before proceeding to the completion stage.

Effective coordination and prompt action from all parties involved can help streamline the process and ensure a timely completion of the property transaction. 

This will mean, unless you have a delayed completion, it should take between 8 to 12 weeks from searches to completion.

How much do searches cost?

The cost of pre-contract conveyancing searches can vary depending on several factors, including the type and number of searches required, the location of the property, and the fees charged by the search providers.

It is recommended to consult with a conveyancer or solicitor who can provide a detailed breakdown of the expected costs based on the specific searches needed for the property transaction.

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What enquiries do solicitors raise after search?

After the property searches have been conducted and the results obtained, solicitors typically raise additional enquiries to gather more specific information about the property and address any concerns that may have arisen.

These enquiries are known as "additional enquiries" or "requisitions on title" and serve to ensure that the buyer has a comprehensive understanding of the property's condition, legal status, and any relevant issues before proceeding with the completion stage.

The enquiries can cover a wide range of topics, including but not limited to:
  • Boundaries and easements: Solicitors may seek clarification on the precise boundaries of the property, any rights of way, or any shared access arrangements that could affect the use and enjoyment of the property.

  • Planning and building regulations: Enquiries may be made to confirm whether any alterations or extensions carried out on the property have received the necessary planning permissions or building regulation approvals.

  • Restrictions and covenants: Solicitors may inquire about any restrictive covenants or other legal obligations affecting the property, such as limitations on use, restrictions on alterations, or requirements to pay maintenance fees or service charges.

  • Services and utilities: Enquiries may be raised to confirm details about the availability and connections of services and utilities such as gas, electricity, water, and drainage.

  • Insurance and warranties: Solicitors may request information about any existing insurance policies or warranties in place for the property, particularly for newly built or renovated properties.

  • Leasehold matters: If the property is leasehold, solicitors may raise specific enquiries related to the terms of the lease, ground rent obligations, service charges, and any other leasehold-specific matters.

The specific enquiries raised by solicitors will depend on the findings of the searches, the property itself, and any particular concerns identified during the due diligence process.

It is essential for solicitors to address these enquiries satisfactorily to provide the buyer with a clear understanding of the property's condition and any potential legal or practical issues before the completion stage.

Do you need a TR1 form to exchange?

To exchange contracts, a TR1 form is not specifically required. The TR1 form, also known as the Transfer Deed, is a legal document used for transferring ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer.

It is typically completed as part of the overall conveyancing process, but it is not specifically tied to the exchange of contracts. The TR1 form is usually executed and submitted to the Land Registry after the completion of the property transaction.

The TR1 form itself contains important details such as the property's address, the names and addresses of the parties involved, and the purchase price.

It also includes specific clauses and declarations related to the transfer of ownership. The completion of the TR1 form is typically the responsibility of the solicitors or conveyancers representing the buyer and seller.

While the TR1 form is not directly required for the exchange of contracts, it is an essential document for completing the transfer of ownership.

After the exchange of contracts takes place, the TR1 form will be prepared, signed, and lodged with the Land Registry as part of the post-exchange and pre-completion process. It is crucial to ensure that the TR1 form is accurately completed and submitted promptly to facilitate a smooth transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer. Visit the government website fore more information on the TR1 form.

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Why do solicitors take so long to exchange contracts?

The length of time between exchange and completion can vary, and the duration is influenced by various factors that can contribute to the time taken by solicitors to exchange contracts. These factors include:

Due diligence and legal checks: Solicitors need to conduct thorough due diligence, including property searches and legal checks, to ensure there are no outstanding issues or concerns that could impact the transaction.

This process may involve investigating title deeds, obtaining necessary documents, and addressing any queries or concerns that arise during the review.

Communication and negotiation: Solicitors act as intermediaries between the buyer and seller, facilitating communication and negotiation between the parties.

This can include addressing queries, discussing contract terms, and negotiating any necessary amendments. The time taken may depend on the responsiveness and cooperation of all parties involved.

  • Chain of transactions

    If the property transaction is part of a chain, where multiple buyers and sellers are involved, the process can become more complex and time-consuming. Delays in one part of the chain can have a domino effect, impacting the timing for all transactions within the chain.

  • Mortgage and financing arrangements

    If the buyer requires a mortgage to complete the purchase, the solicitor needs to coordinate with the lender, obtain necessary documentation, and ensure all financial arrangements are in place. This can add an additional layer of complexity and time to the process.

  • Legal documentation and paperwork

    Solicitors are responsible for drafting and reviewing legal documents, including the contract of sale, transfer deeds, and any necessary addendums or agreements. This meticulous drafting process takes time to ensure accuracy and compliance with legal requirements.

It is important to note that the specific circumstances of each property transaction can also impact the time taken to exchange contracts.

Delays may arise due to unforeseen issues, negotiations, or external factors beyond the control of the solicitors.

It is in the best interest of all parties involved to allow sufficient time for the necessary legal processes to be completed accurately, ensuring a smooth and legally sound transaction.

Can I speed up the time between searches and exchange?

Yes, the best way to make sure there’s a fast timescale between searches and exchange is to find a buyer who can purchase your property without house repayments and doesn’t tend to be too bothered about the results of the searches – in other words, a cash buyer.

A cash buyer doesn’t have to sell a house in order to buy yours, meaning you won’t need to worry about their searches possibly delaying the process between the searches and exchange.

Generally speaking, a cash buyer will purchase your property at a slight discount, and they don’t tend to get many, or sometimes any, searches on the property.

This factor, combined with the fact they don’t need house repayments, means there’s less paperwork when selling to a cash buyer, meaning the process is a lot quicker.

This means, with a cash buyer you can expect to exchange within a few weeks, meaning the answer to ‘how long after searches to exchange’ is NOT VERY LONG!

But whilst this is all well and good, where can you find a cash buyer? They’re pretty hard to come by, aren’t they? After all, surely not many people are able to buy a house upfront in cash.

That’s not entirely true…

Whilst on the open market a cash buyer may be hard to find, you do have an alternative where you can find your cash buyer instantly.

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Here at The Property Buying Company, we’re a cash buyer of houses, buying any property in any condition – so don’t be worried about what might come up on your searches.

We can also complete in a fast timescale of your choice, so there’s no need to worry about how long after searches to exchange or completion because how long it takes is up to you! A week, a month – there’s no wrong answer.

On top of this, we will also cover the costs of all fees, even the legal ones, meaning the offer we give you is the amount you will get in FULL in cash in your bank!

Give us a call or fill in our online form today for a free no-obligation cash offer, which we could have in your bank by next week…

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What time of day does exchange of contracts happen?

The exchange of contracts typically takes place during normal business hours, commonly between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. While there is no strict rule regarding the exact time of day for exchanging contracts, it is customary for this process to occur within these general working hours.

This allows solicitors, conveyancers, and all parties involved to be available and accessible to address any last-minute queries, complete the necessary paperwork, and ensure a smooth transition from exchange to completion.

However, it's important to note that the specific timing can vary depending on the circumstances and agreements made between the parties involved in the transaction.

Can the sale exchange and complete on the same day?

The process requires efficient coordination and completion of all necessary tasks within a limited timeframe. This includes finalising all legal paperwork, transferring funds, and ensuring that all conditions and obligations of the contract are met.

Due to these complexities, most property transactions in the UK involve a time gap between exchange and completion. This gap, often referred to as the completion period, typically ranges from a few days to several weeks.

This time allows for various post-exchange activities to take place, such as the transfer of funds, finalising mortgage arrangements, coordinating removals, and completing any outstanding legal or administrative tasks.

The decision to exchange and complete on the same day or have a completion period is typically influenced by the specific circumstances of the transaction and the preferences of the parties involved.

It is important to consult with a solicitor or conveyancer who can provide guidance on the most suitable approach based on the individual situation, ensuring a smooth and legally compliant completion of the property sale.

What happens at completion

Completion is the final stage of a property transaction in the UK. It is the point at which ownership of the property is officially transferred from the seller to the buyer. Several key activities occur at completion, including:

  • Transfer of funds: On the day of completion, the buyer's solicitor or conveyancer will transfer the agreed-upon purchase price to the seller's solicitor or conveyancer. This includes the balance of the purchase price, any adjustments for apportionments (such as taxes or service charges), and fees for legal services.

  • Handover of keys: Once the funds have been received, the seller's solicitor or conveyancer will confirm the completion and authorize the release of the keys to the buyer. This allows the buyer to gain access to the property.

  • Registration with Land Registry: Following completion, the buyer's solicitor or conveyancer will arrange for the registration of the change in ownership with the Land Registry. This process ensures that the buyer's legal title is recorded and recognized.

  • Settlement of outstanding obligations: At completion, any outstanding financial obligations related to the property, such as outstanding mortgages or secured loans, will be settled using the funds transferred. The buyer's solicitor or conveyancer will ensure that all relevant payments are made to discharge these obligations.

  • Distribution of documents: The seller's solicitor or conveyancer will provide the buyer's solicitor or conveyancer with the necessary legal documents, including the transfer deed (TR1), title deeds, and any other relevant paperwork related to the property.

It's important to note that the specific steps and procedures at completion may vary depending on the details of the transaction and the requirements of the parties involved. The buyer's solicitor or conveyancer will guide the buyer through the completion process, ensuring that all necessary legal and administrative tasks are carried out accurately and efficiently.

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