Exchange in one day? Yes, it’s possible, says Ed Whittington

Moving house is a tortuous process in every way, usually not helped by the legal process which can drag on for several months without any explanation whatsoever. It may therefore come as a surprise that it’s possible to conduct the entire process during the course of a day, without compromising either the buyer or seller’s position.   And we speak from experience as last month we completed a purchase of an £8 million country house, having exchanged in just one day.

So, how is this possible?  The buying agency Prime Purchase approached us late on the Friday, asking whether we had capacity for an attended exchange on the Monday.

Having agreed, the sales memorandum was issued over the weekend, and on the Monday morning I arrived at the property near Newbury in Berkshire at 7 am for an inspection and walk of the boundaries with the buying agent, Charlie Wells and his team.

Meanwhile, my colleague Archie Sherbrooke, based in our City of London office, visited the seller’s solicitors’ office in the City at 9 am and collected the relevant documents. By midday we had formally engaged our client and dealt with the usual money laundering identity checks, and at 2.30 pm we received the 10% deposit. Having raised enquiries of the seller’s solicitors and received satisfactory replies, we finished our report to our clients at 5 pm and received authority to sign the contract on our clients’ behalf.

By this time the sellers were mid-flight from the US so they weren’t in a position to exchange contracts until they arrived in the UK.  Finally, at 11.55pm I received a call, and we exchanged. 

So, what is the secret?  For the seller, it’s all about preparation – incurring the cost of preparing for the sale, including obtaining all searches and if necessary resolving any issues, before even finding a buyer.  For the buyer, it’s all about co-ordinating a team of lawyers and good quality buying agents to work on one matter for one day, which means dropping other work for the sake of one transaction. On both sides this comes with high fees, but in some circumstances – such as in this case – it is worthwhile in order to drive through a deal and secure someone their dream home.