Research shows that the time taken to buy a property has increased since before the pandemic. The reported delays in conveyancing, coupled with a rising base rate environment, has increased the sense of urgency for many buyers.


15th August 2022


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Could you speed up a property purchase?

You may be able to take efficient steps to buy your next home more quickly, according to experts in the Investec network.

Research shows that the time taken to buy a property has increased since before the pandemic. The reported delays in conveyancing, coupled with a rising base rate environment, has increased the sense of urgency for many buyers.

This means efficiency at all stages of the process is critical. Here, experts in the Investec network explore how it may be possible to speed up a purchase.

1. Consider purchasing a property off-market

When it comes to the search process, Caspar Harvard-Walls, Partner at buying agent Black Brick Property Solutions, advises buyers not to wait to find a property that is advertised for sale.

“The property market in the UK can be difficult to navigate because there is not a centralised list of all the available properties for sale and selling agents may only cover particular areas,” he explains. “Since the beginning of 2022, more than 50% of the properties Black Brick has acquired for clients have been sourced ‘off market’ and this is a trend we see increasing. For clients looking to buy a property, a buying agent will have access to opportunities that never hit the open market.”

2. Appoint your lawyer and professional team early

According to Rightmove, it currently takes an average 150 days to complete a purchase after agreeing a sale – 50 days longer than in 2019.

In this environment, the sooner a buyer can bring on board legal support, the better, says Laura Conduit, a Partner at independent law firm Farrer & Co. “It’s important to be organised. Ideally, lawyers should be appointed before a property is even found or a deal agreed.”

Once appointed, communicate regularly and clearly with your lawyer, bank and any other third parties involved in the purchase, in order to keep things on track. “Agree a realistic timetable upfront and check in with the selling agents, bank, lawyers and surveyors to ensure everybody is focused on meeting the target exchange date,” Laura advises. “And ensure that searches are submitted by the lawyers without delay.”

Organisation isn’t only helpful from an efficiency perspective. In Caspar’s experience, it can also be the difference between having an offer accepted or not. “Sellers and estate agents can be wary of a buyer who does not look organised,” he warns.

“We recently won a sealed bid (where multiple buyers offered on a property) even though our client did not put forward the highest offer. The seller and his agent were impressed by how organised we were and felt confident that the deal would proceed smoothly.”

3. Explore using dual legal representation

When selecting a lawyer, it’s also worth seeing whether you can use dual legal representation, which allows an approved legal firm to act for both the buyer and the bank during the mortgage process. This can be particularly beneficial for those needing to move at speed, as it has the potential to shorten the time required for legal checks. In some cases, it can also reduce the cost of a mortgage application.

Investec offers dual representation to ensure we can collaborate efficiently.

4. Don’t rule out purchasing a new property if you haven’t sold an existing one

If you’ve found a great opportunity before selling your existing property, it’s still worth exploring whether you can move ahead with the purchase.

At Investec, we’ve been able to help some clients in this position by taking a holistic view of how much they can afford to borrow.

“We assess mortgages on the basis of affordability,” explains Lisa Parkes, a Private Banker at Investec. “A client recently found their forever home but hadn’t sold the home they were living in. As we were able to demonstrate that they could afford both mortgages until the original property was sold, we were able to provide finance and structure repayments in a way that met their needs.”

5. Work with a lender that already understands complex income profiles

Having a complex income structure shouldn’t delay your mortgage approval.

Although some high street banks are unable to consider incomes that are drawn from multiple sources – such as foreign currencies or various investment portfolios – a specialist lender, like Investec, may be able to find a solution.

As Lisa explains, Investec assesses affordability based on our understanding of each client’s unique needs, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach. “The way that clients draw their income and how we assess loan affordability, is unique to each segment. This means, whether a client is a solicitor, a private equity partner, a business owner, or in another profession, our expertise enables us to make decisions efficiently. When calculating affordability, we can consider discretionary income, foreign currency earnings and assets on a case-by-case basis.”

Investec takes the same approach when working with investors, adds Lisa. “In relation to their wealth, property entrepreneurs may have a comparatively low income stream. We look at investments they might hold or retained profits within their business that they could draw.”

6. Make sure your bank can move swiftly

When choosing a lender, it is important to look at how they operate as well as what solution they can provide. “At Investec our credit team meets daily and is aligned with the private bankers who support clients in different professions; this means we can often provide an agreement in principle within days,” says Lisa Parkes. “We take this approach for residential and investment purchases and build deep relationships with our clients so we can help them seize opportunities. We are also available for our clients to speak to us directly throughout the process to ensure a smooth transaction.”

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