Stop the roller coaster, I want to get off

There must be a way of changing the system so we can introduce some calm into the anxiety-inducing roller coaster process of completing on a house move, says Sue Read

I’m back after the house move which immediately preceded our holiday, but not without scars.

I’ve had a couple of weeks now to look at the whole performance with some perspective. During my time spent waiting for my adrenaline junkie husband and teenage daughters at Floridian theme parks (I’m not a roller coaster sort of person but I’m good at minding bags), I reflected on the house buying process – notably the concluding part.

It was gratifying on my return to find a letter had been written to MS referring to my earlier comments on how solicitors work. I know solicitors are busy people and I will state for the record that my solicitor was excellent in every regard. The problem as I see it is the mechanics involved.

I’ve said before that being a mortgage IFA is both a blessing and a curse when dealing with one’s own house move. Let me tell you about my completion from hell.

So there we were at 11.30am, all packed and ready to go. Even the fact that a second removal van had been unexpectedly needed to carry all our possessions hadn’t fazed me, although my blood pressure was marginally raised.

We were practically at the top of our chain so we realised we were unlikely to hear anything from our solicitor until mid-afternoon.

At around 3pm I started to become anxious. So did the removal men. We all know completions don’t happen after about 3.30pm so I called my solicitor. She said the money still hadn’t started to come up from the bottom of the chain but she was chasing it.

My blood pressure began an inexorable ascent. Panic is not something I do professionally but after several further calls I found myself sitting in a car park at 5pm waiting for my mobile to ring again. It seems Barclays’ systems had gone down that morning, preventing a transfer of funds. So all parties in the chain had to agree to complete without the money, subject to this happening the following day. In my many years’ experience I’ve never encountered this. Faxes were sent and eventually at 5.15pm I collected the keys. Good job I got to the property shortly after this as the removal men were already unloading onto our new lawn.

At least the money was transferred eventually and we do own the property now.

The stress was immense. I remain convinced the swollen ankles I endured for nine hours during our flight were a direct result of the strain earlier in the week.

Can we not come up with a better way? What if, say, money were to be transferred on one day and then completion (house move) take place a day or two later? This would save a lot of anxiety, let alone uncertainty about removals, gas, electricity, phones etc. I don’t think it would be difficult and everyone would know where they stand.

And that’s only the end of the process, I’m sure we could tweak the rest of it if we tried.

Has anyone out there got connections in the Law Society? I said I’m not a roller coaster sort of person but perhaps the ride I undertake regularly going through this horrible process with my clients belies this.