What Can Hold Up The Exchange Of Contracts?

you couple waiting to exchange contract

Buying and selling homes can be a lengthy process. The solicitors will first need to draw up contracts, and the buyer and seller both have to sign identical documents. Once this is done, the parties will have to wait for the solicitors to exchange the contracts. Before the contracts are exchanged, the agreement will still not be legally binding. This is why many people get impatient and wonder what is holding up the exchange of contracts. In this guide, we will look at some common factors that can hold up the exchange of contracts.


What Can Hold Up The Exchange Of Contracts?

1. Mortgage Issues

Mortgage issues often lead to the fall through of home sale deals. One common mortgage issue is the down valuation, which means that the mortgage lenders valued the home at a price lower than what the buyer had agreed to pay. Whenever such an issue occurs, the buyer will want to renegotiate the price, and this will lead to a hold up of the exchange of contracts.

It is also possible that the buyer no longer has the capacity to borrow as much money as they need. This usually occurs because the mortgage offer expired or the borrowing circumstances changed. To prevent such delays, the seller should ensure that the buyer can provide evidence that financing is in place, and after that, they can accept the purchase offer.


2. Buyer and Seller Hesitation

It is also possible that either the buyer or seller is having second thoughts about the transaction, and this might make them act slowly. The seller may feel like they are not getting sufficient value from the transaction, and this may make them reconsider the entire exchange. On the other hand, the buyer may be thinking of switching to a different neighbourhood, or they may realise that the price is too high. There are countless reasons for buyer and seller hesitation, and the solicitor cannot exchange the contracts if they feel that either of the parties is not satisfied with the agreement. This means the transaction will end up being delayed.

In some cases, the buyer and seller may just be slow for no reason. To counter such issues, the solicitors can encourage both parties to send the required documentation promptly. Also, the parties may have to provide certain details before the process goes forward, and any delays can hold up the entire property chain.


3. Issues Found in the Home Survey

This is another common issue that delays the exchange of contacts. If the home survey reveals an issue that was not mentioned earlier, the buyer may want to renegotiate the price, and this will end up holding up the exchange of contracts. They may also develop distrust and act with hesitation, and this will similarly cause delays. To prevent such situations, the seller should always have thorough surveys done on the homes before putting them on the market. This is especially important if the home is old or unusual in design. The buyer can also take steps to fix the property since certain issues can turn away prospective buyers.


4. Slow Solicitors

The solicitors may also be slow, and this can lead to unnecessary delays. It is important to remember that solicitors usually have to deal with issues that are out of their control. For example, they may receive responses that are unsatisfactory, and they will then have to take time to resolve the issue. In some cases, the solicitors may even have to put a halt to the process altogether as they have to protect both parties.

It is also possible for the solicitor to have too much on their plate. They may be dealing with a number of home sales, and that can divert their attention. Since they have to follow policies set by the government, there can be a limit to the speed of the transaction.


5. Slow House Surveys

In some cases, the transactions can be delayed because of slow house surveys. The surveyors may be quick to inspect the home, but the buyer and seller may get the reports long after the process is complete. This can especially be problematic if the survey reveals that the house has other unreported issues. In this case, the solicitor will have to wait for the reports to be processed, and they also have to ensure that each party is satisfied with the survey


How Fast Can I Sell My Home?

If there are factors that you are concerned will hold up the exchange of contracts, you might want to consider some ways to speed up the process. There may be hold ups in the exchange of contracts due to necessary disruptions, being ready on your end allows things to quickly get moving again, once the disruption is cleared.

Selling your home is a complex process. Finding a buyer is only the first step, and it may not necessarily lead to a sale. On average, contracts are exchanged within 18 weeks of marketing the home. Plenty of factors can affect the speed of the sale, and they include:

  • The price asked- If you ask for very high prices, fewer people will be interested in viewing the property, and this will delay the sales process.
  • The quality of the solicitor- This is another major factor impacting the speed of the sale. Most buyers will lose patience when dealing with a slow solicitor, and they may move on to other properties. When selecting solicitors, you shouldn’t always go for cheaper ones since they are typically overworked.
  • The quality of estate agents- This factor also impacts the speed of the sale significantly. The agent will have to handle the clients and negotiate the prices, so they can make or break the deals. The estate agent you select will not just determine the speed of the sale. They will also determine the level of stress you experience, as well as the final selling price.
  • The market heat- You probably don’t have any control over the market heat, but you should still note that it can affect the speed of the transaction. In hotter markets, the transactions are completed faster, and the sellers usually have the upper hand.


External Factors

There are other factors that can determine how fast you will sell your home. However, most of these factors tend to be outside of your control and can hold up the exchange of contracts. These include:

  • The buyer’s position
  • The length of the property chain
  • Issues with the survey, title, and search
  • The condition of the neighbourhood
  • Whether the property is leasehold or freehold
  • The local authorities
  • The time of the year
  • The condition of the home
  • The uniqueness of the property



Lots of factors can hold up the exchange of contracts. One of the common issues is hesitation from the buyers and sellers. This usually occurs when either party gets second thoughts about the transaction. The exchange may also be delayed because the buyer or seller is being slow in sending documents and answering queries. It is also possible that the solicitor is being overworked. Another issue that may cause delays in exchange of contracts is mortgage problems. In this case, the buyer may not be able to get sufficient financing for the purchase. Also, the mortgage lender may value the property at a lower price, and this will force the buyer to renegotiate the price. The exchange may also be delayed because the surveyor found issues in the property. Such issues can make the buyer want to renegotiate the prices.