A Cheery-but-Realistic Guide to Your Festive Transaction
Christmas lights, presents under the tree, Michael Bublé… and a house move? If you’re currently in the middle of selling and/or purchasing property, you might be wary of just how much of an impact the festive season is going to have on the process.
In fiction, buying a house at Christmas is a rather magical affair. One might arrive at the new digs at dusk on Christmas Eve only to have it fully unpacked and festively attired in time for Christmas breakfast. Who could ask for a better Christmas gift?! Ahem. We’re here to assure you that in practice it would be absolutely nothing like that.
Let’s get realistic here; property transactions aren’t all fun and sparkle. A study conducted earlier this year showed that moving to a new house is considered to be even more stressful than getting a divorce or having a baby. We think this is especially true if you’re managing two simultaneous transactions, i.e. selling and buying at the same time.
You might imagine that throwing in some seasonal cheer would help to jolly up the whole process. We implore you to think again. No matter how many Christmas bells you stick on it, there’s no denying you’re taking on an awful lot of extra work at one of the most pressured times of the year.
Fear not: we’re here to guide you through the process and make sure you don’t completely lose your festive spirit. Add a bit of Bailey’s to your coffee and let us fill you in on everything you need to know about managing a festive transaction.
Things you don’t want to hear during a December transaction
There are plenty of things you don’t want to hear when buying or selling property. Things like: ‘the property isn’t connected to mains sewerage’ or ‘there’s a right of way across the front lawn’ or ‘the buyers want to renegotiate on the basis of the survey.’
If you’re transacting around Christmas time, you have all these things to worry about plus a fair few more!
Not-so-merry things you might hear include:
‘We want to be in by Christmas’– from your buyers
This one is especially stress-inducing if you only accepted the offer on the 29thNovember and have already got the tree down from the loft and have started stringing up the lights. The dates given during the conveyancing process are generally fairly arbitrary, but Christmas and New Year is often a very tempting milestone.
Should everything be straight-forward and all conveyancers on their best behaviour, in theory there’s not necessarily any reason why this couldn’t happen. However, in reality it’s unlikely and you’d probably be better off resigning yourself to seeing in one last New Year in your current abode.
‘We won’t be doing any actual work past 12thDecember’– from other conveyancers in the chain
The thing about December is that it can be a very unproductive time. Celebrating and general merriment can really get in the way of getting any work done. You may find that other conveyancers in the chain might be more focused on their office Christmas lunch than sending through your contract pack. Present company excepted, of course.
‘Banking transactions may take three times as long’ – from your mortgage provider
It’s not just individuals who are likely to be hit by seasonal unproductivity, we’re afraid. You may find that it sets in with the bigger bodies you have to negotiate with, such as your mortgage provider.
There are genuine reasons why banking transactions may be affected over the festive bank holidays, but you may discover these disruptions creeping up earlier and earlier in the month.
‘The office is closed due to inclement weather’ – those other conveyancers again
With even a tiny fluttering of the white stuff, you may find the whole transaction comes to a total halt. Please: no more dreaming of a white Christmas.
‘Mince pies and chocolate oranges are not a healthy solution for stress-relief’ – your healthcare professional
You might not want to take any notice of this one. Don’t tell anyone we said that.
Will you actually be able to be in by Christmas?
It might not just be your buyers who want to be in for Christmas. You might also be keen to pop a wreath on your new front door and welcome in your relatives for festive nibbles served on unpacked boxes.
Depending on when the transaction started, you may or may not be able to realise this dream. We will stress that it’s important to be realistic: if you put your property on the market mid-November, it’s almost certainly not going to happen. However, if you accepted an offer by the end of October, there’s every chance Father Christmas will be visiting you in your new home.
The key thing to remember here is that you don’t want your conveyancer to have to rush. There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to pulling off a successful transaction, and you want to make sure all the ‘i’s have been dotted and ‘t’s crossed. Ultimately, getting it done properly has got to take precedence over getting it done quickly.
What’s best for your stress levels?
If it gets to early December and things are looking like they could go either way, you might want to give yourself the early Christmas gift of peace of mind. Accepting that the move isn’t going to happen until the new year will give you the freedom to enjoy the festive month with your family without the lingering spectre of an imminent move.
Even the most laid-back individuals can find themselves flustered by the house-moving process. The best way to counteract these anxieties is to focus on enjoying the moment, and you’re unlikely to be able to do that if all your Christmas decoration boxes are taped up and ready for the move.
Looking at the big picture; you may decide it’s best to aim simply to exchange before Christmas, with a completion date half-way through January. After all, you’ll get to stick a light-up reindeer on your new front lawn next year – should that happen to be your thing.
Need us to talk you down from a festive house-moving ledge? We’re here to help as always (though we can’t promise we haven’t been at the mince pies).