Why should you avoid booking your removals prior to the exchange of contracts?

A lot of people like to be organised and arrange their removals in good time, to ensure they have a reliable removal company on their completion date and in the hope of securing more competitive rates. Here, Jess Hughes looks at the impact a chain can have on your completion date and why you should avoid booking your removals prior to the exchange of contracts.

Fridays tend to be the busiest day of the week for completions, so removals will need to be booked in advance as there will be less availability on this day of the week. Due to this you may be tempted to book your removals prior to exchanging, in the event they are booked up when you have exchanged contracts.

During the conveyancing process, a completion date cannot be guaranteed. A buyer and seller can agree a completion date between themselves, but all enquiries need to be satisfied, including lender requirements before a completion date can be agreed. Until contracts are exchanged, there is no certainty of a completion date. Exchange of contracts is legally binding, so once this step is complete, the completion date is set, and the parties within the chain are legally bound to complete on this date. If someone fails to complete on the agreed completion date, for any reason, there will be legal and financial penalties, which are contained within the contract for sale. For further details on this, you should query with your Conveyancer possible contractual remedies.

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Your completion date needs to be agreed between your whole chain, the completion date needs to be the same for all of those involved and contracts will be exchanged to tie this in. A chain is a number of property transactions, buyers and sellers who are all connected. If Mr A is selling to Miss B, and Miss B is purchasing from Mr C, and then Mr C is also purchasing another property. They would all be within the same property chain, this would be a chain of three.

Up until the point contracts are exchanged, anyone within your chain is free to change their mind and withdraw from the process without any contractual penalties. Even if the other party has signed their contract and returned this to their solicitors, they are still able to pull out of the transaction as the contract has not become legally binding at this point.

Therefore, we would advise against booking your removals prior to exchange of contracts. Any cancellation fees incurred due to a change of completion date would be at your own risk, and therefore you would not be able to claim this from another party e.g., your buyer or seller. To avoid issues with booking removals, you may want to ensure you have a reasonable amount of time between exchange and completion to allow you to book and secure your removals, without taking on the risk of cancellation fees.

By Jessica Hughes