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Exchange of contract and completion date timing

Buying a house and moving, it's been said before that this must be one of the most painful experiences in life.  I think it's actually made more stressful because of the all the legal hurdles and the way in which it all happens.  The English version (the Scottish one is much better) requires your solicitor to do lots of work with searches and checking previous authorisations, ensuring proper title etc.  This is all fine and of course, quite understandable. You need to know exactly what you are buying and the mortgage company or lender needs to know that the property is a sound investment.

However, when did the completion date (the date you actually move) become largely set in stone well before contracts have been exchanged?  The, more sensible, approach used to be that the solicitors did all the work, drew up the contracts and then agreed the completion date with all parties at the same time as exchange of contracts.

Buying a house, exchange and completion dates Now you often have to commit yourself to paying for a removal company, redirection of post, changes to utilities etc. even before you have any contract exchanged whatsoever.  This strikes me as a little bit daft...  Apparently, it's become quite normal for the exchange of contracts to occur just a few days, or even hours, before the move, leading to massive amount of anxiety for all concerned.

a minimum period between exchange and completion

Solicitors shouldn't go along with these practises, even if put under pressure by clients who 'bully' them.  Even better, the Law Society should insist on a minimum period between exchange and completion (unless all parties agree a lesser period).  Perhaps then the process of moving home would be less painful.

Most house buyers get too involved in the initial excitement of finding their next property to fully consider, at the outset, that they will need some time to finalise everything - AFTER contracts have been exchanged.

By: Robert

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A word of warning to all. There is a father and son-in-law operating as property solicitors in Chelmsford, Essex who have sent their firms bust 3 times. Each time they did it, many clients in house purchase mid stream lost the houses they wanted as exasperated sellers withdrew from the deal.
The solicitors names are Michael and Dean Alexander. Their last firm was Alexander Lawyers LLP, but they crashed that and are now operating as Edward Marshall Solicitors. They owe plenty to clients, creditors and HMRC.
Google 'Michael Alexander SRA' and details of his prosecution by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for misuse of client funds will come up.
Google 'Worst ever conveyancing solicitor' and an account of their antics can be seen.
Don't risk your house purchase/ sale with these bandits.

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Angry of Bishops Stortford - 10-Apr-14 00:18

After being bullied buy the sellers into waiting 5 months from a whole number of excuses from our house purchase in Benfleet, on the day of the exchange the sellers pulled out knocking the legs from all in the house chain, therefore leaving us like others out of pocket and the frustration of starting again, this system must be tightened up surely to protect all concerned, I understand there should be a cooling off period for all, but you are selling and buying property you must know what you are doing, there needs to be sum sort of protection in place so nobody wastes time or money in the property market.

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Rod Jones - 8-Apr-14 06:41

I've signed my contract with the solicitor who informed me the Seller has also signed the contract. We've even agree on a completion date. I received an email from Estate agents today that the vendor for the house my seller is moving into has decided to purchase a new house. That vendor was supposed to be moving to a rented property, so there was no chain there...
I'm very furious at the moment. can I pull out of this purchase and will I incur any penalties. Obviously not my fault!

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Bannay - 3-Feb-14 13:58

Is anyone have the nightmare am going through i sold my house 10 wks ago got told average complerion 8 to 10 wks just been told possible another 2 wks, but my solictor has just said cut off time when near xmas is around 3 wks before xmas, in total why has it took nearly 3 monthes to sell a house, we are only in a chain of 3 the to previous in chain are further ahead it will sicken me to pay a bill in total with estate agents and solicitors of nearly 2k , not looking good to having it completed till new year new, leaving me in a right mess for xmas surley it shouldnt take as long as it does.

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jj - 20-Nov-13 15:54

After reading these, I couldn't agree more. The lack of communication is infuriating. We have been waiting to exchange for two weeks although no one will ever actually address a clear date to get this wrapped up.

The goal of the whole process is to work towards a completion date but it seems like a taboo subject.

How are you meant to get stuff sorted? How is this legal in the UK?

Absolute sh1t!

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Jeff - 19-Aug-13 14:32

Can you sue the arrse off those who have lost trace of your money?

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Teutonic Knight - 15-Aug-13 19:45

Has anyone every heard of this. I am selling my house to first time buyers and I am buying a new build, simple so you would think!!!! Exchanged contracts on Wednesday the 7th of Aug 2013 with a fixed completion date of Wednesday the 14th of August. So on the day all appeared to be going well. We packed up the house and moved all our stuff over to the new house. Had to sit outside until we had word of completion. So all day I was on the phone chasing both solicitors to move the money. 330pm I get a call that my property has completed and the funds are now in place to buy my new build house. 530pm get a call. We are very sorry the New Build Company solicitors have not received your funds so you can not move in. I call my solicitors who tell me sorry we can't find your money. It's vanished.
So I now have NO house, No money as its missing and am sleeping in the removals van with my wife and 2 very young children. Oh and just if things can't get worse i now have to pay £3685 to my mortgage company as I was porting my mortgage and did not complete on both properties on the same day. Any advice.......

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Phil - 15-Aug-13 00:45

I think we need a situation where it is no longer possible to profit from housing. So if house prices increase you can only rent it at the value you bought it or its initial rentable value.Dave Likewise you would only be able to sell it at cost price plus inflation. There would then be an end to estate agents (hooray!) and the whole ghastly mechanism of profiteering out of such a basic necessity. The house price rises of ten years ago have, in effect, created a currency devaluation for those who had not bought property prior to the housing madness and buy-to-let craze.

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Joe from Splott - 19-Jul-13 14:19

7 days ago I was asked to change completion dates to 1st August, was not happy but agreed and spent the Friday & Saturday rearranging removals, house insurance etc..... I did request at that time that my solicitor tried to get exchange done asap so that I could stop any further slippage, he has sat on his hands and now what 6 days later I am told they need another two weeks so they can get their broadband in place ( both work from home)......................... a chain of 6 have now been effected by the same persons twice, I do undertand that the law states until contracts are exchanged there is no recourse for us but morally and ethically this cannot be right .... perhaps the law is simply inadequate/out of date in this area.

Angry,frustrated and just about done in.................

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sleepless - 19-Jul-13 11:25

Oh and don't forget to get buildings insurance changed over on day of exchange as that is when you take ownership of the property and your responsibility for yours ends

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mike - 2-Jul-13 15:36

I am not sure why there is the problems and panic with the utilities I have always changed over when I have moved in to my new place, cancelling my next direct debit to my old utilities online and phoning them and just changing the new utilities into my name by again phoning them, if the old Direct Debits go out the same day as the move they will usually refund you if you are paying for a service in advance

The only things I have done in advance are mail re-direct and arranged Sky to come set me up, I have even left self addressed stamped envelopes for any mail that slips through at my old address.

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Mike - 2-Jul-13 15:33

Meant to exchange early it's week! Now Wednesday no two in chain of four,w are number four has not signed the contract yet! And his solicitor is out of the office today! No2 client has said he has an appointment for Monday to sign contract! Everybody is ready to move/ complete on Friday!. We have had our house on the market nearly four years! Twice it's fallen through after surveys etc if a solicitor is reading this they should understand how stressful my life has been! Four years and I'm still waiting and my solicitor doesn't seem bothered in the slightest!

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Older - 26-Jun-13 14:30

As part of the condition of sale of one property and completion on the other both our EA and solicitor we're told we had a deadline of 16 July.

We are still waiting to even exchange. Should of happened yesterday and nothing. The response from our solicitor today "I'm too busy doing completions right now to sort it out". His level of professionalism is disgusting.

We have been lied to on at least 3 separate situations about major factors and our solicitor has also caused us to lose a repossession house we originally were purchasing as he is so slow and seems incapable of wanting to embrace the 21st century and technology.

We only used to him to secure a good deal on a house as part of the package.......should of listened to gut instinct as this man has wasted a lot of time and our money.

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Disgruntled....Oxfordshire - 20-Jul-12 11:23

I'm on the process of buying selling now and I'm totally stressed. It's the apparent lack of action and lack of communication by the solicitors that's causing it.

Someone told me about this really good book if you have the patience and guts to do it yourself...unfortunately I haven't.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Conveyancing-Fraud-Michael-Joseph/dp/0950502340

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davetee - 6-Jul-12 13:43

Words of Warning - even when you have exchanged it can all go wrong!!! I should have completed today but learnt 11am yesturday that my buyer hasn't got the funds in place to proceed today. I am now in Breach of Contract with the sellers of the property I was supposed to have purchased. My Solicitor has been great in trying to sort out the mess but Estate Agents who knew earlier didn't tell either of us. I can tell you sitting in a house with absolutly everything packed, having lost moving fees and not knowing what happens next is no fun

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Scarlett - 16-Jun-11 17:22

Totally agree, you are absolutely rignt, I am going through the same situation myself, not yet exchanged but given a completion date !!!! My thinking is the buyer has paid their 10% to their solicitor who is pocketing 2 to 4 weeks of interest and exchanging a few days before completion.

In the meantime you are cancelling internet, phone ,utilities on a random date of which you are not even sure of

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movings hassles - 27-Feb-11 14:16

appreciate what your saying but im waiting for soon to be ex-wife to move out of my house into her new home. I was all excited as she was exchanging contracts today - only to find out that the completion date could be weeks away. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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horse - 18-Nov-10 21:39

we are in the final throws of house moving and having been informed of a provisional date for completion the solicitors acting on behalf of the sellors of house we are purchase have become totally silent when our solicitor who we hired for his local knowledge has pressed them for some confirmation we now discover we may be waiting another 3 weeks to exchange let alone move all we would like is to be simply told what is happening so we can plan ahead but the entire purchased is mared by dreadful ignorance on behalf of one solictors firm. having broken the chain to save 3 house moves below us and ours we feel we have done everything we can to assist the move and would just like someone to say its this date and then this date as is we will are pushing (not bullying) for someone to actually talk to us I have to say after 5 houses prior this one has been an awful experience

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jon c oxford to hereford hopef - 29-Jul-10 21:17

agree 100% I should be moving next friday but buyer is using two solicitors one for the purchase of my property and one for his sale. The solicitor handling the purchase of my property will not accept the transfer of the deposit and money from the first solicitor because he does not have a guarantee arrangment with him. I can transfer money in two hours to anyone in the world. Can't solicitors move into the 21st century. In the mean time I cannot confirm removal arrangements or complete on my purchase. Crazy and unfair to everyone.

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kemglen - 23-Apr-10 17:29

Thank you, the Weekly gripe - I am precisely in this position and was starting to think that I was the one with the 'issue' with all these people suddenly breathing down my neck. As a first-time buyer I'm finding the whole thing stressful enough as it is without mixed messages such as "Oh, things can usually take months and things never complete when planned etc etc" to "Well you need to be prepared as you DID state such and such as a completion date..."
Suffice to say you comment brought me much reassurance. Thank you.

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R - 15-Mar-10 17:20

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