The Steps Involved In Moving Home

In her latest blog, Timms Conveyancer, Julie Stewart, discusses the steps involved in moving home from the exchange of contracts to the day of completion…

There are several important stages in the conveyancing process, both for a buyer and a seller. The stages which are most important are exchange and completion. Exchange of contracts commits the chain to a completion date and of course completion is the day when you move home.

I thought it would be good to explain the two key parts of the process or transaction and what you may expect to happen:

Moving Home – Exchange

Exchange takes place when all the parties in the chain are ready and have indicated their ability to proceed to their counterpart conveyancers in the chain. There is no such thing as “a date for exchange” – it happens only when everyone is ready and is not a date which can be predicted weeks in advance.

Also, and contrary to common belief, exchange does not involve parties sitting around a table passing contracts to each other and handing over deposits; it is a procedure accomplished by telephone. This involves all of the conveyancers in the chain entering into a series of telephone calls with the end result that the contract between each buyer and seller is exchanged. At this point the contract becomes binding – meaning you must sell the property and the buyer must buy it.

Although you are not present for this process, you will be contacted by your conveyancer on the day as you do need to give authority to exchange contracts on your behalf and fix the previously agreed completion date.

The series of related telephone calls sounds a quick process but seldom is by the time the various authorities from buyers and sellers have been received and conveyancers have conducted the phone call or found another of the conveyancers is not immediately available. Often a chain of linked conveyancing transactions may be long and involve conveyancers all around the country, some of whom may be engaged with other clients or out of the office when the call comes through to deal with the exchange.

Where there is a long chain, your conveyancer will most likely contact you quite early in the day to obtain your authority to proceed, this is to allow all of the requisite phone calls time to occur.

Once exchange has taken place then your completion date is set and you can firm upon your arrangements for the move. This may mean paying deposits to removal companies, notifying third party service providers of the move and organising child care or someone to look after your pets on the big day.

Remember that once contracts are exchanged you cannot withdraw from the sale or purchase without being financially liable to other parties in the chain.

Moving Home – Completion – The Move Day

This is the most important day for a buyer or seller and involves a lot of physical input for you as buyer or seller during the moving process. This is the day when the monies change hands and keys are released or collected and, by the end of the day, you will be the owner of a new home or parted company with your previous home.

Your conveyancer may seem to be rather quiet first thing when their office opens. Do not worry about this but rest assured that something is being done and you have not been forgotten about. With a long chain of linked transactions, you need to be patient for the funds to make their way up the chain and pass from one bank to another. Your conveyancer will be making phone calls and sending emails to make sure that the parties at the very bottom of the chain put the money in the system as soon as they can.

If you are a first time buyer, you will be contacted once the seller of the house has moved out and you can collect the keys. For those selling and also buying, you will be contacted when the money arrives on your own sale and again when you can collect keys on your own purchase transaction.

The keys will not be released until the funds have arrived in the relevant conveyancer’s account. When monies arrive into the conveyancer’s account a call will be made to the estate agent with a request that keys are released or if no estate agent is involved then a seller will be asked to release the keys directly to their buyer.

Quite often despite assurances that monies have been sent from one conveyancer to another, the money takes a long time to be credited to the receipt conveyancer’s account. This is quite common on days when the bank is very busy and sometimes a bank is required to conduct additional security checks on funds before passing them on to third parties which will cause a delay to the various buyers and sellers in the chain. Do not worry about this, your conveyancer will be keeping in touch with the various parties and their own accounts department to monitor the money during its progress along the chain.

Most often, a seller is not physically ready to move out of their property until late morning anyway so, on a practical level, this causes no problems. However, sometimes removal companies pack people up more quickly than anticipated and you may be sitting and waiting with all your belongings packed up in your removal van. Your conveyancer will keep you updated with the progress of funds and you may suddenly find you receive several phone calls all at once when monies reach an account and keys released.

During the earlier stages of discussions with your conveyancer, mention will have been made about 2pm and the timing of completion. The contract will state that funds must be transferred by 2pm but often with a longer chain, it will be later than that. Rest assured, the conveyancers in the chain will be keeping a close watch on the timings to ensure nothing is overlooked and everyone ends up in the house they are supposed to be in by the end of the day.

Moving Home – Things To Consider On Completion Day

You need to pack the kettle last as you will be drinking lots of tea. Have snacks accessible to keep you going!

You need willing helpers and you need to compromise and keep calm. Once keys are released it will be all hands on deck and all go until you shut the door on your new home.

Everyone will be keen to get into their new home as soon as possible on the completion day but you have to be tolerant and understand that there are a lot of third parties involved who each play an important part in the process. Your conveyancer will keep you updated.

Moving Home – How Can Timms Help?

If you have any further queries about buying or selling a house, our Frequently Asked Questions might help or alternatively, feel free to give me a call on 01283 214231.

Julie Stewart

February 2023

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