Friday completions-- Is there a better day?

A client once told a solicitor that they had a legal obligation to complete on a Friday. I don’t know where that piece of property law came from, but there are times when it seems to be the case although clearly  it is not.

Often the reason for completing on a Friday is so that people have the weekend to move in, and the client does not want to take any time off work. Given that people move home every 5-10 years, this makes the physical move of a family’s possessions a race against time as they try to move all they own in the space of two days.

Understandably it is also common for clients to schedule completion for the last Friday of the month so that their first mortgage repayment can coincide with their monthly salary payment. You might think that this is all understandable and makes good sense, but it overlooks the unintended consequences.

One of these  was on Friday 17th October 2014 when the BACS system failed for nearly ten hours. On average, £227bn is transacted through the system each day. This failure put at risk many thousands of home moves. Another consequence is the sheer pressure that is placed on removal  companies (as well as conveyancers).

Then there are other reasons for trying to take the pressure off Fridays. The table below shows the % of completions that take place within a particular time frame following the exchange of contracts:

Simultaneous  26%.  2-3 days  14% .  4-7 days  23%.  8-12 days 16%.  13-20 days   12% . 21-30 days  9%.

Apparently these results have been virtually identical for the last five years, so what are they telling us? The period between exchange and completion used to be a standard 28 days, but now less than one in ten take place in this relaxed and much less stressful timeframe .

Some 40% complete within three days, which means that many people will exchange on a Wednesday and move home on the following Friday.

Nearly two-thirds of people move within a week of exchange and 80% will move within three weeks. And let’s not forget that one in four exchange and complete on the same day.

Perhaps we should be working even harder with our clients to promote a workable time scale and suggest a day other than a Friday for completion, but I don’t think we will easily overcome the need and expectation of buyers and sellers to have the weekend to recover from the trauma of moving day.

Statistics from myhomemove with our thanks