Customers think conveyancing is slow, what can we do about it?

Customers think conveyancing is slow, what can we do about it?

Avoiding the glib response – ‘automate your business’ – there’s very practical guidance that can help legal firms to improve the speed of their workflows, and the pace of the property chain. Small steps, which are easier to implement.

If one party has issues then everyone in the chain risks falling like dominoes as the paperwork, delays and stress-levels increase. The uncertainty of the chain collapsing increases. Some elements of homebuying will always be beyond your control, such as mortgage availability and the reticence of clients to commit quickly, but there’s a lot that can be done to reduce delays – and those delays are tangible. Landmark’s Residential Property Trends Report showed that completions were 13% slower in Q2 than Q1 of 2023, and 39% slower, compared to Q1 in 2019[1].

Download our market research: Residential Conveyancing: What does the future hold for 2024?

Consider the immense value of Up Front Information (UFI)

Having can be a huge factor in speeding up the chain. With accurate UFI to hand, law firms get an advantage. When a comprehensive contract pack hits the table, it boosts confidence in the whole transaction.

However, while every residential agent prepares standard marketing packs, some may stop short of collecting all the data needed, to mitigate costs if the sale falls through. It becomes a Catch 22 situation – but UFI can reduce the delays that might impact the chain, and that, in turn, should help a sale to progress with more certainty. In addition, legal representation can be secured much earlier in the process and UFI helps mitigates the risk of errors creeping in while chasing clients, getting wires crossed, and handling a mountain of documents.

Start property searches earlier in the process  

Searches can take anywhere from 48 hours to 180[2] days. Much depends on complexity, and on how busy a Local Authority is, but the longer the wait, the more pressure is on the chain.

One solution is for the seller to order a search as soon as the property goes on the market. This defies convention. It’s usually the potential buyer who controls the search. And there are two stumbling blocks to changing the norm – both of which you’re ideally placed to handle:

  1. The first challenge – local searches are valid for 6 months and there is often a preference for them to be no more than 3 months old
  2. The second – sellers will need to recoup the costs from buyers

Placing early searches are the epitome of efficiency, and the incoming National Trading Standards’ Part C calls for maximised efficiency before contracts get exchanged. Agents who advise sellers to order searches early will need support from legal firms to ensure accuracy, but the provision of that information certainly helps to speed up the conveyancing process.

A digital search platform, such as SearchFlow, helps legal teams to provide that support. Getting searches in place promptly in a format that’s helpful for everyone – addressing any concerns about time spent organising the information – and being of the highest quality, which provides confidence in recouping costs. In addition, using the SearchFlow platform means that local authority queues aren’t an issue. Transactions can be fast-tracked on land registry details, environmental data, water authority and chancel repair information.

The value of earlier surveys

If the survey uncovers issues a seller wasn’t aware of, or – perhaps – something surfaces that wasn’t pro-actively highlighted at the right time, the brakes can go on. Quickly.

Being vocal about the value of early surveys can help. An early survey significantly reduces the timelines involved, and it also gives sellers time to fix unforeseen problems promptly. Early surveys can sometimes flag common or garden issues (such as temporarily blocked drains, or damaged chimney stacks) that would otherwise risk a complete collapse of the chain.

Communicate regularly with everyone in the chain

Clients are more likely to relax if they understand the conveyancing process more fully, how its in-built delays are for security and handling their own responsibilities in facilitating a sale.

Keeping the lines of communication open – typically using a dashboard for sharing documents, for example – can speed everything up. When conveyancers, legal teams and agents spend less time fielding enquiries from anxious clients, there’s more time available to strengthen client relationships and deliver excellent customer service.

Download our market research: Residential Conveyancing: What does the future hold for 2024?


‘In practice, how can we reduce the delays in conveyancing?’

If you’re curious about conveyancing technology that can help your law firm to speed up the property chain, do speak to us.

At SearchFlow, we offer an open invitation to talk about proptech, search services, data, time savings and the cost efficiencies available via our platforms and conveyancing technologies.

We work closely with law firms up and down the country, every single day, to build a clear and deep understanding of what conveyancers need most. Here’s how to reach us, if you’d like to know more about which conveyancing technology might be right for your law firm.

This article was submitted to be published by Searchflow as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.


SearchFlow is the UK’s largest provider of legal due diligence data for residential and commercial property transactions. Since its formation, it has supported over 5,000,000 instructions and delivered 26,000,000 searches; this equates to around 1 in every 4 property transactions in the UK. SearchFlow recognises that proactively supporting each client’s journey is vital to delivering the right due diligence insights, searches, data, surveys, and insurance for every transaction – whether a single residential property or a complex commercial portfolio. Via its advanced online ordering platform and backed-up by an award-winning customer service team, SearchFlow supports clients in delivering the conveyancing solutions needed to manage due diligence risk and achieve compliance. By partnering with SearchFlow, property law professionals in the UK can deliver smarter, safer, and faster property transactions to their customers. SearchFlow have been crowned Search Provider of the Year for four consecutive years, and recently won Bronze for Best Use of Technology at the CX Awards. Based in Kent, SearchFlow is a Landmark Information Group business, which is part of DMGT plc. Key Services

Links Address 42 Kings Hill Avenue Kings Hill West Malling Kent ME19 4AJ Key Contact  Rob Steadman Telephone 0800 977 8818

1 Comment

  • It is correct to say that sellers are reluctant to be put to the cost of searches as they are generally only considered to be valid for six months. So why is no one offering a search product that is kept valid until such time as the sale has completed?

    Given the historical data does not change, and roads and sewers will not “unadopt” themselves, there must only be some minor parts of any search which need to be kept updated?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *