Do you really have to move home on a Friday?

If you are moving home, you will probably want to complete your purchase or sale on a Friday. It is a perfectly reasonable desire, as it allows you the weekend to move in, so you have to take less time off work. This will generally fit in with what everyone else in the chain wants and probably 80% – 90% of conveyancing sale and purchase completions do take place on a Friday.

There is a school of thought however that suggests that completing your conveyancing transaction on a Friday might not be the best idea after all. In fact its very popularity is part of its downfall. Inevitably when conveyancing offices are busier there is more scope for problems and delays, and it isn’t just the conveyancers where the problems could lie.

What Happens on Completion Day?

On the day of completion, the purchase money needs to be transferred by electronic transfer (telegraphic transfer) from the purchaser’s solicitors to the seller’s solicitors. Once it arrives, the transaction is complete and the purchaser is entitled to take possession of the property (which means the seller must have moved out).

If there is a chain of transactions then the money needs to move from solicitor to solicitor, it cannot be transferred directly from the start of the chain to the end. A telegraphic transfer is only guaranteed to arrive at its destination account on the same day it is sent. It is not instant and often takes several hours. Added to this is the problem that the latest time by which solicitors can transfer money out is usually 15.30, so although the money might arrive with a solicitor in the chain before 5pm, meaning his seller client is obliged to move out that day, he may not be able to transfer money to the solicitor acting on his client’s purchase.

You can see that the longer the longer the chain, the greater the possibility that the whole of the chain will not complete in the day.

Why is Completing on a Friday More Dangerous?

As mentioned above, the vast majority of completions take place on a Friday. This means that your conveyancer will be particularly busy and while he or she should be experienced enough to deal with multiple completions it is inevitable that the scope for delays is increased. Imagine something as simple as the cashiers department of the purchaser’s solicitors sending out the payments. If they have 20 payments to send then the last one is obviously going to go out later than if they had 2. Someone has to be last, and this could be you.

As well as conveyancers, banks are busier too. This can mean that money can take longer to move through the banking system. If completion does not happen until later in the day you will need your removals company hang around for longer. This will cost you extra and you might even find that they have to leave if they have other assignments booked (which far more likely to be the case on a Friday then on any other day).

Aside from the increased risk of late completion, failure to complete on Friday means you will not be able to complete until the following Monday, as the banking systems which deal with telegraphic transfers do not operate on weekends. This means two extra nights living in a hotel or lodging with friends or family as well as two extra nights to store furniture. The Friday before a bank holiday is especially popular and especially risky.

What You Can Do If You Do Insist on Moving on a Friday?

If, despite the risks, you do want/need to move on a Friday, there are some things you could do to help the day run more smoothly:

  1. If you are buying but not selling, you don’t actually have to move in on the day you complete. Think about completing on Thursday and moving on the Friday
  2. Make sure that any money you need to get to your solicitors is with them no later than Thursday so your solicitors can send the money first thing
  3. Ask your solicitors to order the mortgage monies to arrive from your lender the day before completion. Some solicitors will do this anyway, but not all will. Again, this will allow for the money to be transferred first thing
  4. Allow enough time between exchange and completion to arrange removals and check just before exchanging that your removal company is available – remember Friday will be their busiest day
  5. Keep in contact with your conveyancer so that you are aware as early as possible of any potential problems so that you can be prepared for the eventuality of late completion

Finally, remember that the vast majority of moves go ahead without a hitch, so relax and prepare to enjoy your new home!

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