115,000 Housing Delays Per Year Cost £15 Million

115,000 Housing Delays Per Year Cost £15 Million

For many, following a long and exhausting buying process, moving into your house is a landmark occasion indicating the next chapter in your life. However, for too many of us, the day itself turns into a litany of delays and additional costs.

Staggeringly, according to the study conducted by YouGov on behalf of HomeOwners Alliance and the secure payments provider Shieldpay, 115,000 home moves are delayed each year because sellers are taking too long to vacate their old premises or funds are taking too long to transfer.

This is something that the Society for Licensed Conveyancers (SLC) have tried to eradicate by insisting that its conveyancing firms adhere to the process of securing all monies, including mortgage funds, the day before a proposed completion. However, 34% of homemovers have said that they needed to chase their conveyancer or mortgage lender on moving day to ensure the money was transferring.

Unfortunately, this report indicates that 19% of homeowners, that purchased their property in the past two years, experienced moving day delays. 20,500 families were unable to move in on their planned moving day because funds failed to arrive on time.

Inevitably, delays equate to costs with the average family, who experienced a delay, notching up £500 in unjust additional payments; 15% claiming that this number surpassed £1,000. 39% of movers were forced to pay additional hourly fees for removal companies, 27% needed to pay additional storage fees and 16% spent money on removal company cancellation.

Unbelievably, where delays extended beyond hours and into days, 15% spent money on hotel accommodation after becoming homeless due to the elongated process. Despite being out of the buyers’ control, 9% were exposed to late completion charges.

The total per year adds up to £15 million spent on avoidable and unreasonable additional costs for homeowners that have only just completed the most expensive transaction of their lives.

Geoff Dunnett, Director of Real Estate at Shieldpay, says: “Moving house is stressful enough without further delays at crunch point. For the most part, homeowners are helpless when things go wrong and it’s rarely their fault. Real time digital payments have the power to change the system for the better, saving time, money and a great deal of stress.

“Shieldpay’s instant digital escrow solution brings efficiency, transparency and certainty to the most critical part of any real estate transaction. The status of funds is visible at any time and enables parties to complete on transactions anytime, anywhere – even on the weekend.”

Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of HomeOwners Alliance says: “It’s ridiculous that in this day and age, where the rest of our lives run smoothly and more efficiently, that moving day nightmares are getting worse.

“The number of homeowners having to cancel their moving day – often losing hundreds of pounds in the process – is up 2% on a decade ago while the percentage of sellers experiencing inconvenient delays has jumped from 12% to 19%.

“It’s scandalous that moving house is more difficult than it’s ever been. Clearly, more needs to be done to streamline processes and put customers first. The government has stated it wants to improve the house-buying/selling process, is this really such a hard nut for industry to crack?”

Although some delays are unavoidable, 115,000 delays per year highlight a common trend that should be addressed to avoid huge amounts of money being needlessly wasted in the future.

Who is to blame for completion delays? What should be done to avoid such delays in the future?

Martin Parrin

Martin is a Senior Content Writer for Today’s Conveyancer, Today’s Wills and Probate, Today’s Legal Cyber Risk and Today's Family Lawyer

Having qualified as a teacher, Martin previously worked as a Secondary English Teacher that responsible for Head of Communications.

After recently returning to the North West from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, Martin has left teaching to start a career in writing and pursue his lifelong passion with the written word.


  • This is entirely due to the shambolic way property transactions are dealt with by lawyers and agents. If transactions were dealt with properly, none of this would happen.

    • There could be instances where the Clients book removals before exchange has even taken place.

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