Currently in the English conveyancing system there is no fixed period between Exchange of Contracts and the Completion when the monies are transferred and the purchaser of the new property can get the keys and move into their new home.
What this means is that exchange and completion of contracts on a property can be anything between 4 or 5 weeks and 2 days or even on the same day. This therefore causes problems and uncertainty for the home owner and the purchaser and the service suppliers for those customers.
For example, if the period between exchange and completion is only two or three days then this allows the customers a very short amount of time to let tell everyone that they are moving home. i.e. the utility company, the post office, the removal company, the telephone and broadband suppliers, window fitters, locksmith and many more. This can cause a logistical nightmare for some, not least for the removal company who may be fully booked or have to hire more staff at the last minute to cover the customers furniture removal. And if the removal company is booked up on the completion day then the customer has to ring round a lot more companies at very short notice. Very often being left with no option than to use a bad remover or do the move themselves if they can't find a reputable removal company who isn't fully booked.
If there was a notice period between exchange and completion of contracts then this would allow the customer who is moving, much more time to let everyone know and avoid some of the problems that happen on moving day.
Can conveyancing solicitors plan for this when they are dealing with a property exchange?
In this customer service orientated world, clients ask a question and usually get told the answer they want to hear, rather than the logical and experienced advice from a seasoned professional who should know better than to lead a client on. Unfortunately if one conveyancing firm says it can be done in 6 weeks to try and get the work, it means everyone else has to follow this lead rather than be realistic and quote 10 - 12 week. The customer just sees that it costs the same but can be done in half the time. Or so they are lead to believe.
Yes, conveyancing can be done in 24 - 48 hours if necessary, but as long as everything is in place beforehand, no problems or queries arise and everyone is ready to exchange and complete.
However, this scenario is realistic in less than 1% of conveyancing cases.
Customers need to be realistic when they buy and sell property and solicitor firms need to go back to giving good advice so that customer expectations are the same as that which can be achieved by the people doing the work to cause the property transactions to flow from one owner to the next.
It is very frustrating when there is a short gap between exchange and completion. Like most removal companies we take full payment 7 days before moving day, this is ok when the customer has exchanged contracts but when they havn`t it poses a dilema. We can understand that they may not want to pay in full if they could loose some or all of the money if the date should change, on the other hand we need to have some certainties for our job board so we can plan the week ahead efficiently.
What we usually do is try to accomodate especially as we know its not their fault, but it does cause alot of stress especially when it gets closer to completion day.
I looked at this problem and came up with the "Late Exchange Guarantee" http://ajstephensonremovals.blogspot.com/2011/12/late-exchange-have...
The idea is that it will buy the customer a bit of time and give some certainties to the remover.
It would make alot more sense if there could be legislation to stop exchange and completion being less than a week apart.