Diary of a high street conveyancer; 7th February 2022

When talking about conveyancing and the people involved, we talk about buyers and sellers, solicitors and estate agents, but there is one group who we tend to forget about.   This group are vital for the majority of house movers, and it may surprise you to learn that they are asked to act in the process quite early on.  Removal companies. 

We , as solicitors, are very focussed on completion dates.  We need to be sure that mortgage monies are requested and on their way to us and that all final searches are done.  We like to exchange contracts sooner rather than later but , in recent years, we have become used to exchanging the day before , if not on the day of completion.  I am not a fan of simultaneous exchange and completion, but I understand that the business model of some firms is such that this is the way their systems operate. We, as solicitors, know that estate agents like an early exchange of contracts as their terms of business will say that their fee is payable on exchange.  We, as solicitors,  all know those other conveyancing firms who operate on a fee structure which enables them to charge extra if there are less than five working days between exchange and completion so that their business model will in fact push for a simultaneous exchange and completion. We, as solicitors, know  that there are those firms who will not exchange contracts unless they are guaranteed release of mortgage funds – and that is a whole other article because with the advent of the lender portals and  notifications that monies are being released, this is a practice which  should cease.

We, as solicitors, know all of this and understand why we may not be able to exchange until the last minute. But  clients do not understand this and let’s be honest, they don’t care.  They want the security of exchange.  In my early days of conveyancing, it was usual for there to be twenty eight days between exchange and  completion. This is now incredibly rare, and  some of the  reasons are as set out above, but also once  we have the other pieces of the jigsaw puzzle such as the searches and the mortgage offer,  clients do not want to wait to exchange and then wait a further twenty eight days. In our  world of Amazon Prime  and immediacy, they want to move now.

All of these  things are a nightmare for removal firms. We tend to forget that they exist but they are the last part of the client’s journey.  And many removal firms will not take a definite booking until exchange has taken place. Bear this in mind when  you are looking at a simultaneous exchange and completion.  The client does not care about whether the OS1 search reveals an entry – they want to book their removals.  The client does not care that the person four above them in the chain has to arrange child care for moving day  – they want to book their removals. And they cannot book their removals until they have exchanged contracts.

And then the day of completion. If I could do one thing to help removal companies, it would be to  suggest that completion monies are moved as early in the day as possible. Think about it  – it is only when the client picks up the keys, that the removal men start the second part of their day. When we  receive  the monies, we tell the clients and the agents and then  mark it off as a completion done.  The removal men will probably have arrived at the client’s house at about eight and started packing the wagons  – the giant game of Jenga.  If the keys are not  released until three o’clock, it will take them a few more hours before they  have unpacked the wagon and made sure that the boxes and furniture are in the  right rooms and that they can go home.  If monies are not sent until late in the day – and we all know that this  happens and we all know the firms who have a tendency to  send monies late and on finding out that they are in the chain, we know we are looking at a late completion  – then the removal men may  not finish until   unpacking the wagon until seven or eight o’clock at night, and  they will then need to take the wagon back to their base before heading home. There are days when they do not get home until after nine  having missed bath time with their children and are too exhausted to do anything with their families.   It is not surprising to learn that removal companies have a recruitment crisis.

Send money early.  If you are the first in the chain, send it as early as you can.  Think about the last mover in the chain who cannot get moving until the  monies are received and think about the removal man getting home early and spending time with his family.


This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.

2 Responses

  1. What a fantastic piece.
    Movers are increasingly finding that operating as a home mover is increasingly unviable for exactly the two reasons highlighted here. Key release and booking uncertainty is (it is no exaggeration to say) killing the industry.

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