It is a frequent occurrence in conveyancing offices up and down the country that once Halloween has passed all clients “need to complete their purchase and be in for Christmas”.
There are many factors to this desire – a wish to be in a larger place or proximity of the new property to family and friends. There is also the coming of the New Year and a fresh start which drives clients to want to complete ahead of Christmas. This brings with it an inevitable rush and pressure upon residential property lawyers to get the matter across the line ahead of the Christmas break.
Buyers are usually advised at the outset of a transaction that it takes on average 10-12 weeks to buy a property from start to finish, and this timescale is also dependent upon the selling party and other members of the chain (if there is one).
There are some things you can do to help the transaction run more smoothly and give yourself the best chance of exchanging and completing before Christmas.
If you are ready to agree exchange and completion dates ahead of the Christmas break you may find that your solicitor will not agree to a completion date very close to Christmas. Most firms will have a “cut off” date after which they won’t agree to complete transactions until the New Year. A “cut off” date by your solicitor acting may seem arbitrary and unnecessary but there are other factors in play behind the scenes.
The last day for completions date is usually set by your solicitor because of the number of bank holidays and firm closures over the Christmas period. If your completion fails to go through on the agreed completion date, and the failure is due to the other side then, under the terms of your contract, your solicitor must serve a Notice to Complete providing the other side with 10 working days in which to complete.
If this period extends over the Christmas break then instead of potentially a two-week delay in your completion taking place, it may be considerably longer, particularly if the two week notice period would expire during the period between Christmas and New Year and the other party’s firm is closed for that period. Imagine if you had sold your property and had to vacate but could not get into your new property for two weeks or longer over the Christmas period?
Most clients would agree that such a situation should be avoided at all costs. It should be pointed out that the likelihood of such an occurrence is rare, but no one wants to be that horror story!
The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Alexandria (Lexie) Jacobs, Senior Associate in the Residential Property team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of November 2023.