Should you pack before the exchange of contracts?

Exchange of contracts is the point in the conveyancing process in which the buying or selling of a property becomes a legally binding transaction for both parties involved.

Before this point there is no legal obligation or need for either the prospective buyer or seller to follow through with the purchase and therefore it may seem futile to start packing before this point. Within your contract a completion date will be stipulated and this will give you an idea of the time frame you have to remove your belongings from your property. The period between exchange and completion is normally a fortnight but this can vary on a case by case basis.

Despite this seemingly ample period between exchange and completion, packing up a whole house and everything in it can take a lot longer than most people expect. For this reason, it is advisable to start organising and thinking about packing a short while before exchange of contracts. It is always better to have a plan in action to ease an already stressful and complex process. You don’t want to be caught out or forget anything at the last minute when you have a thousand other things going on!

It would be a great idea to start packing up things in your house that you don’t use as often a few weeks or days before exchange. For example, if you have belongings in your loft or attic it might be a good idea to at least start thinking about what you would take with you and what you might give away or throw out. Even if fully starting to pack doesn’t fit with your busy lifestyle, the mental process of organising your belongings and what you need to do before your move will be an enormous help to you and whoever you are moving with. If you do have time before exchange of contracts though, it would be helpful to start making boxes for each room in your house or flat so that you can get organised and ready to move out. Two weeks may seem like enough time to remove all your belongings but most buyers and sellers are often shocked at how many things they actually have stored away in their home when it comes to moving out.

If you’re going to be renovating the new property or not moving in straight away for whatever reason it might also be helpful to pack your things in advance of exchange of contracts and arrange for commercial or third party storage. This can often be quite difficult to arrange at the last minute so it’s best to get ahead where possible to avoid unnecessary headaches.

In conclusion, although there is normally quite a bit of time in between exchange of and the agreed completion date, it can never hurt to be prepared and start packing even before you exchange contracts. It is always a good idea to be organised and in control during the conveyancing process.

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