House sellers cause delay by instructing solicitor late

By Christine Farrell

Property sellers are causing delays in their own sales by leaving it too late to instruct a property conveyancing solicitor, according to new research by estate agents Move with Us.

The survey of independent estate agents suggests that 84 per cent of people selling their house wait until they have accepted an offer from a buyer before starting to look for a property conveyancing solicitor to handle the legal process for them. It is estimated that an 11-day delay can be avoided by instructing a solicitor earlier, which estate agents say helps minimise the risk of the buyer pulling out.

While it is suggested that someone selling their property should instruct a solicitor when they market their property, that might not perhaps be the best option for vendors in Northern Ireland. If the person is confident of a quick sale it certainly would be prudent to instruct a conveyancing solicitor as quickly as possible.

In Northern Ireland, if there is a mortgage on the property the title deeds will be held by the mortgage lender. There can occasionally be delays in receiving these documents from the lender, but if you instruct a solicitor to request these and a sale is not yet agreed, they may be required to return them back to the Lender as these can only be held for a set period of time.


One of the elements of a property sale that takes some time is the various searches that the solicitor has to request in respect of the owners and the property itself. While in theory it would be a good idea to get these early and have them waiting, it should be noted that these searches have a set period of validity. If it takes a while for an offer to be accepted on the house your solicitor might be in the position of having to request those searches again, and some of these are quite expensive.

If you are marketing a property in Northern Ireland you should look into property conveyancing solicitors at that time. Take your time and know which one you would like to use once a sale is agreed. Once you start getting positive signals from people viewing the property you may choose to then instruct a solicitor and get the initial work done to get your file opened, but ask them to wait for notification of a sale before carrying out any significant work. You could call your lender and make sure they have the deeds and that they are not still with the solicitor you used to purchase the property to avoid unnecessary delay down the line.

Those steps will put you in a good position to move swiftly once you accept an offer on your home. You could shave some time off the process by instructing the conveyancing solicitor earlier, but that needs to be weighed up against the costs you could incur as a result of it taking a while for the property to sell.

If you are buying, selling or remortgaging a property in Northern Ireland and require a conveyancing solicitor to handle the process for you, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by calling 0800 840 9290.