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One in four house buyers 'left sleeping on friends' sofas' as delays hit property chains

The UK property market still relies on a complicated and time-consuming paper trail (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

One in four people who have bought a house in the past 10 years spent time sleeping on friends’ sofas waiting the sale to go through.

The proportion rises to one in two people in London – forced to stay with family or take a hotel room as the process drags on.

With house-buying still heavily reliant on paper-based administration and manual updates, new proptech firm When You Move found one of the most common reasons home buyers were left with no fixed abode was that their rental contract expired while waiting to get the keys to their new home.

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Another reason was that home buyers had to vacate an existing property they owned out of fear a deal would break down while they experienced delays in completing on a new property.

When You Move’s research uncovered that on average the process took seven weeks longer than the projected completion date.

“Buying and moving house is one of the more stressful events in people’s lives, but today’s research shows that the whole process has become far more disruptive than it ought to be,” said Simon Bath, CEO of When You Move.

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“In particular, long delays and poor communication around the sale or purchase of a new home has far worse repercussions than the majority of life’s transactions.

“Evidently, there is a significant need for the property industry to bring itself up to speed, not just when agreeing the sale of a home but the lengthy steps that follow to seal the deal,” he said.

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Three in four people among the 2,000 people questioned who had bought a home in the past decade said the purchase took far longer than they anticipated.

When You Move’s property transaction platform is set launch in September and will digitise the UK conveyancing process – offering real-time updates and case-tracking from mortgage broker, estate agent to and from the solicitor.