Conveyancing at Christmas: What to expect when Exchanging and Completing before Christmas


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).

Five tips for a smooth transaction

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.

  1. Apply for your mortgage at the first opportunity – your mortgage offer will only be issued on the lenders survey has been completed and this may take a couple of weeks to complete.
  2. Order your own property survey promptly – the results of your survey may lead you to re-negotiate your purchase price for the property – this will have a knock-on effect on your mortgage offer so the sooner this is done the better. Again, it may take the surveyor a couple of weeks to get the appointment booked in and to then produce the report after the inspection.
  3. Provide any funds or documentation your solicitor requires promptly. Your solicitor will require funds from you before they can order your searches and as searches can take about 2 weeks to come back the sooner these are ordered the better. Identity documentation or evidence of your source of funds for the purchase is essential to your solicitor for them to meet their professional obligations so please attend to this as quickly as possible as it may hold up an exchange of contracts if not dealt with fully.
  4. Order any sales packs or provide funds to your solicitor to fund obtaining sales packs promptly – Where service charges are paid to any management company, managing agent or landlord, there is often  a sales pack providing all the necessary information that any buyers solicitor will need. The management company will usually make a charge for providing this information and it can often take a number of weeks to be sent through once payment has been made.
  5. Use your estate agents to assist with chasing up the other party or their solicitors for responses or to deal with their own administrative matters.

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!

How Pinney Talfourd can help

If you wish to discuss this topic further, please do not hesitate to Lexie Jacobs. Alternatively, you can contact any member of our Residential Property team.

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.



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