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Estate Agents are not to blame

Apr 16, 2012
Following on from the article in the February issue of The Mover, we now have the estate agents view of why the time between exchanging contracts and completion is under pressure.

In the November issue of the mover, Matt Faizey member of BAR, puts the blame for Friday moves and same day completions firmly at the door of solicitors who he claims gain interest from holding deposits over the weekend period.

This view was defended resolutely by Nick Ritson, a solicitor with Milton Keynes law firm Austin Ray, who countered the blame squarely against estate agents who he claimed kept wasting time discussing completion dates and putting pressure on completing the sale for targets and commission purposes.

Views from a number of estate agents have been compiled to return the ball back into the court of the removal companies, causing an interesting and impossible triangle.

It must first be said that the estate agents interviewed were of the opinion that same day exchanges were of a relatively low number and were not on the increase. Most exchanges take place with a move scheduled for a week to a fortnight later.

Barry Sharpe from Astley Sharpe Estate Agency in Milton Keynes thinks that the blame should be thrown directly back to the inflexibility of removal companies. They want to book dates so far in advance that dates are set and then when the exchange isn’t ready they put pressure on to get moving on that date. “We are totally driven by the seller and the seller’s wishes,” he said.

He agrees with Nick that the Friday removal date is driven by customers only wanting to take one day off work with the remainder of the weekend to settle in.

He also concedes that all estate agents want the sale completed as soon as possible because of the commission they receive on completion, but the completion itself just seems to be dragging out for longer and longer periods causing frustration for all concerned.

He thinks the solicitors have too much work as they run their offices on reduced staff to cut costs. This causes backlogs of work, particularly on contracts that are backed up for the Friday exchange. He offered a recent example in which a mortgage offer had been with the solicitor for ages, but had not been looked at until the point of exchange and it was wrong. This then caused unnecessary delay.

“The delays seem to be caused by a catalogue of errors, from postage delays to incorrect paperwork, to poor explanation for clients resulting in mistakes, cheques being made payable to the wrong people, etc.,” said Barry.  It all seems to come down to communication and organisation. Even the corporate estate agencies, who offer other services, fail to offer any project management for clients.

In conclusion it seems that someone needs to take ownership of the task in hand from beginning to end and not just rely on being an intermediary between the professional offices concerned. Looks like we are back where we started.


Please send in your comments on this subject to The Mover.  If nobody else will grasp the nettle, perhaps we should.

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