“So, here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun…”
Too early for you? My apologies, but as I write this we are just a mere 95 days from ‘the big day’, which for those of you who might have difficulty with your seven times tables is 13 weeks and four days away. Have you bought all your presents yet?
But, anyway, back to the housing market. We are told that, on average, the time to complete a house purchase is between 12-16 weeks so you’ll be able to see that, for those clients who do want to get into a new home by December 25th, the clock is ticking and it could be tight to say the least.
To get to that ‘unpacking boxes around the Christmas tree’ feeling, a lot of things are going to need to go right for the home mover, and a lot of the traditional problems will hopefully not come up or can be dealt with quickly and competently by the professionals your client chooses.
The first point to acknowledge is that very few purchases or moves ever go swimmingly without a hitch. They can happen but, especially if the client is in a lengthy chain, everyone is going to have to accept that issues will arise and it will take a concerted, combined effort from all stakeholders in order to get them sorted and to ensure the timings do not slip. The one thing in favour of that pre-Christmas move-in is that everyone will know the date and hopefully be able to work towards it; by the way the last Friday before Christmas is the 21st (and most sensible conveyancers will work towards 20thas a deadline in case of a last-minute hitch)which means even less time to complete than you (or your client) might have reckoned on.
What will not help your client however is making a bad decision when it comes to those important professional services decisions. I recently re-watched the Indiana Jones films on television – normally a Christmas film staple but shown this year in September – and there is that famous scene in ‘The Last Crusade’ where the ‘baddie’ chooses the wrong Holy Grail cup in order to secure eternal life. The results are rather unfortunate for him. Indeed, as the knight puts it, “He chose…poorly.”
While your clients might not literally age before your very eyes and turn to dust, choosing the wrong conveyancing firm to carry out their home-buying legal work, might well (metaphorically) put them in an early grave. I read some research recently which outlined just how debilitating making that wrong conveyancing choice can be; for instance, it was suggested that 30% of homebuyers experienced an average delay of 6.4 weeks because their conveyancer ‘was not in the office’.
One can only presume that these are small, local, family-based solicitors for whom conveyancing is clearly not a priority because, for example, with the larger specialists we have on panel, clients are clearly not going to be dealing with just one person but a team who carry out the work day-in, day-out.
Perhaps, unsurprisingly, absent solicitors really set the tone for how a process might be delayed and the damage this can do – for instance, 25% who had to deal with an absent professional were not told when they might be back, while 24% found out that the solicitor was away and their case wouldn’t be worked on during their absence. Needless to say, when that is the case, the chance of getting a conveyancing case closed within a 12-16 week timescale, is going to be that much more difficult. For those who want to be in by Christmas, the chances are incredibly slim; indeed with that 6.4 week delay, they could be currently looking at February/March at best.
So, why take the chances? Why allow a client to opt for a firm where conveyancing is clearly not a priority? Why put up with conveyancers who go away for weeks on end, or don’t have the support in place to deal effectively and efficiently with cases? Advisers are in the perfect position to not allow this to happen, to ensure their client chooses a large-scale specialist, and to give themselves every chance of making those desired deadlines?
It’s not rocket science and the recommendation is in your hands. Lest we forget that no-one gets paid until exchange/completion so it’s in all our best interests to make sure those cases are done and dusted as soon as possible. And if it’s by Christmas for those that want it, then that’s really the best present you can deliver.
Harpal Singh is managing director of Broker Conveyancing