press releases

A hundred thousand property purchases fell through in 2015 as property lawyers drag heels

  • More than a quarter (27%) of property purchases have fallen through in the past five years — close to half of those (48%) were due to conveyancers holding up the process
  • Around one in seven homebuyers (17%) are unaware they can 'shop around' for a property lawyer
  • Using a conveyancer recommended by an estate agent costs, on average, £400 more

Tens of thousands of property purchases fall through between offer and exchange of contracts each year, as the average time it takes for property lawyers to progress to this stage takes just shy of three months[1].

Research carried out by new conveyancing provider LV= Legal Services, showed that more than one in four (27%) sales have fallen through in the past five years — and of these, in nearly half (48%) of cases, fault was attributed to the conveyancers for taking too long to exchange contracts. This equates to more than 96,000[2] sales not going ahead last year as a result of poor conveyancing services.

Of those property sales that fell through, a fifth of buyers (21%) were gazumped and one in seven (15%) had the vendors pull out at the last minute. The most common complaints from homebuyers who were unimpressed with their conveyancer included poor communication (74%) and slow and ineffective service (65%).

Around one in seven customers (17%) weren’t aware they could shop around for conveyancing services. Currently more than a third (35%) of those buying or selling simply stick with the lawyer recommended by their estate agent but this can be costly both in monetary and literal terms. Those who follow their estate agent’s suggestion pay around £400 more[3] on average, are more likely to have to chase their lawyer for updates[4] and ultimately, are less likely to be happy with the service.

When it comes to choosing a conveyancer, those who shopped around were most likely to make their selection based on a competitive price, good reputation or recommendation from a family member or friend.

LV= Legal Services is a new independent service in partnership with UK law firm Lyons Davidson, offering practical and easy to understand legal advice at an agreed fixed rate. Straightforward quotes can be sourced online, and Lyons Davidson’s expert advisory teams will be on hand to handle any specialist or more complicated requests.

"It's clear that in many instances the conveyancing industry isn’t working for consumers and those who simply take their estate agent’s recommendation are most likely to pay the price. That's why we have entered the market, offering transparent, high quality conveyancing at a price that is right for the consumer, supplied and endorsed by the LV= brand they trust."

Martin Milliner, Claims Director of LV= General Insurance

In addition to conveyancing, LV= Legal Services also offers practical and easy to understand legal advice at an agreed fixed rate for:

  • Wills
  • Power of Attorney
  • Probate
  • Personal Injury
  • Employment Law.

Notes to editors:

LV= commissioned PCP Research to conduct bespoke research among a sample of 1,000 UK residents who have either bought of sold a property in the past five years. Surveys were conducted across the UK in December 2015 and are nationally representative.

  1. Source: PCP. The conveyancing process takes 10 weeks, on average.
  2. Source: HMRC: In the months January to November 2015, there were 1,115,750 property transactions in the UK (seasonally adjusted). According to PCP, 18% of property transactions in the past year fell through - equivalent to 200,835 transactions that fell through in 2015. 48% that fell through were as a result of poor conveyancing services - equal to 96,401 transactions.
  3. Source: PCP. Those who used the conveyancer recommended by their estate agent paid £1,595.39 on average, whereas those who sought conveyancing services elsewhere paid £1,167.74 - equating to a difference of £427.65. These averages are based on figures (for total cost) provided by those who have either bought or sold a property in the past five years.
  4. Source: PCP. 56% of those who used the conveyancer recommended by their estate agent had to chase for updates, versus 47% of those who selected their own conveyancer.

About LV=

LV= employs over 6,000 people and serves over 5.8 million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We are currently the UK's number one brand for Insurance and Investments, according to the 2015 YouGov Brand Index Buzz Rankings.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trade unions.

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.

Press contact

Jon Sellors
Head of Corporate Affairs
020 7634 4447
07711 701 806