Festive conveyancing? Exchange contracts before Christmas

3 min read
If you are either intending to buy or are buying a home at this time of year, we advise you to get your exchange of contracts finalised before Christmas. If you manage to do this, you are far more likely to complete successfully in January.

Why should you worry about Christmas?

The holiday period is a time when many life-changing events can happen. Normally for up to 2 weeks, many of us spend time with our families and have the chance to reflect on many things.

Purely regarding home buying, events can happen which might derail an attempted house purchase. People can lose their jobs, relationships can break up and you can change your opinion about buying a house (or one of you might, if you’re buying as a couple).

Similarly, during that 2 week period when ‘nothing is happening’, the property you were interested in might come off the market or your mortgage offer might expire. We strongly advise therefore that if you really want to go ahead with a home purchase, you should go all out for an exchange of contracts before Xmas.

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How can you give yourself the best chance of exchanging contracts before Xmas?

The rule of thumb is that conveyancing for a freehold normally takes between 6 to 8 weeks and it takes between 8 to 12 weeks for a leasehold. There are things you can do personally as a buyer to keep to this timeframe and ensure your exchange of contracts is not unnecessarily delayed. You can:

1 – Order your property searches promptly
You are wise to allow up to 2 weeks for your property searches to come through fully; this is normally down to the time it takes to receive your local authority search.

2 – Order your mortgage valuation from your lender
If you’re buying using a mortgage, you’ll only get your mortgage agreed when your lender is satisfied with the valuation. You have to book and pay for this and it can take perhaps 2 weeks to complete.

3 – Order your RICS survey
As a buyer, you’ll want to get the property you’re interested in checked over by an expert to see if there are any defects. Once again, you should allow 2 weeks for this: you need to book the survey, your surveyor has to fit it into their diary and after the inspection, you’ll have to wait for up to a week to get your survey.

4 – Use the estate agent to ‘push’ for swift responses to enquiries by the seller
The seller can cause delays – typically this can occur when you’re waiting for property information, fittings and contents forms etc. – but you should use whatever leverage you have and this includes the estate agent.

Another reason to 'nail down' January as the time when you will complete is reduced cost of your home removal. Home removals companies are generally booked up - and more expensive - in the run-up to Xmas. Invariably the reverse is the case for January: they will be less booked up and most likely cheaper.

Our experienced conveyancing solicitors work to get you to exchange of contracts as quickly as possible. Get your free, fixed fee quote – call 0333 344 3234.

*Fixed Fee – No Sale No Fee – CQS Solicitors

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