Homebuyers and sellers have blamed solicitors more than estate agents for delays during the conveyancing process, according to research published by the Office of Fair Trading.

The consumer watchdog published four reports undertaken as part of its market study into home buying and selling. One showed that most consumer complaints concerned the individual on the other side of the transaction or their solicitor, rather than the estate agent involved.

Overall, 255 sellers were interviewed. Of the 108 who said they experienced delays in the process, 20% blamed their own or the buyer’s solicitor, with poor communication cited as the main cause. They blamed buyers in 39% of cases.

In general, satisfaction levels with the service provided by solicitors and estate agents were evenly matched; 89% were satisfied with their solicitor and 88% with their estate agent.

Peter Rodd, chairman of the Law Society’s property section, said: ‘Solicitors are often the ones in the process who have to break bad news to the client when things have gone wrong, whereas estate agents are able to be more positive.’

He added that the Law Society is developing its own internet portal to bring about electronic exchange of contracts to speed up the process.

Richard Barnett, chairman of the Law Society’s conveyancing and land law committee, said: ‘If it is the client’s perception that it is the solicitor’s fault, that does not mean solicitors are to blame – it could be that the blame is wrongly being put on them by others.’

The OFT will publish a full study on improving the buying and selling process in early 2010.