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Moving on Settlement Day

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Can I move on Settlement Day?  This is a very common question asked not only of removalists but also to solicitors and conveyancers.  To be blunt, we would say avoid it if you can!

Though of course it is possible to move on settlement day, as the settlement process can be subject to unexpected delays we recommend moving before or after settlement.

First thing is first, what is settlement day?  Property settlement is the official process of the transfer of ownership of a property.  On the settlement date, the buyer of the property pays the balance of the purchase price and the transfer of land is then complete.  You can then collect the keys and move in!

Sounds simple, right?  No!  Even though you will be paying your legal and financial representatives to take charge during the settlement period, a lot of things may go wrong causing delays or even a postponement of the settlement. 

Missing paperwork, misspelt names, failing a final inspection or the seller not being ready to move out or issues with your home loan and funds not clearing may be some of the factors which can hamper settlement.  If you had booked removalists and had ended your lease on the planned settlement day, you would then have to cancel and request an extension on the lease.

This can get riskier if you have a dual settlement or a same day settlement which is when you are selling one property and buying another on the same day.

Though moving on settlement day isn’t impossible, we would recommend moving before or after if you can.  If you must move on settlement day, we also give you some tips on how to do it.

Timing the move around settlement day

Settlement day is stressful and so is moving so why would you do both on the same day?  If you are buying a property, move the day after settlement or later when all the dust has settled or request early access to the property or partial access (e.g. the garage) to start moving things ahead. 

If you are selling a property, you could move ahead of settlement and have everything cleaned and perfect for the final inspection.   

Moving tips for moving on Settlement Day

If you must move on Settlement Day, there are things you can do to make sure it all goes to plan.  When it comes to the removal itself, we suggest you:

  • Pack early, and pack everything.  If everything is boxed up and ready to go it makes it easy for us to move you out.
  • Declutter as much as possible before moving day.  Sell, give away or dispose of any furniture, appliances, or household goods that you do not want moved.  The fewer things there are to move the faster it will be.
  • Plan and provide us with parking and access details.  Let us know where the entrances to any parking or loading zones are, provide us with swipe cards or keys and book any lifts and loading zones.  If any bookings must be made, run the timing carefully with us and we will give you a realistic timeframe around your settlement.
  • Let your removalists know the settlement time and let them plan the move around that.  It is best to listen to the professionals in this instance.  As much as you may want to save on removals costs, if your property is not vacated in time this will delay settlement and incur other costs which will probably be higher than one more hour of removals.
  • Label all your boxes clearly and in detail.  Use a packing list to help you know where everything is. 
  • Use a room plan to help removalists know where things are going.  Use coloured stickers matching the stickers on the room plan, label the large items with the coloured stickers so the removalists know what is going where.
  • Pack a suitcase with clothes and essentials in case you are not able to move on settlement day.  Even if you move on settlement day, it is still handy to have all your toiletries, clothes, and devices in one bag for easy access.

You can also do the following to ensure settlement happens on time.

  • Choose experienced conveyancers and solicitors to handle your settlement. 
  • Though a good conveyancer will check that the sales agreement is correct, double check yourself.
  • Make sure all forms are complete and additional costs are covered which may mean preparing some cheques ahead for items such as council rates.
  • Organise the final inspection a week before settlement day, a final inspection the day before may mean that if the buyer is not happy, the required changes will delay the planned settlement day.  If the inspection is of the property you are selling, try to make sure everything is as close to possible as to the conditions of the agreement.  If you are buying and the inspection is disappointing, contact your removalists and landlord to give you more time at your rental.
  • Schedule the property settlement times as early as possible giving all parties more time to file everything and deal with any unexpected problems that may arise.

Moving when you have a dual settlement

When you have a dual or simultaneous settlement, then you have double the paperwork and stress to deal with.  The greatest risks in a dual settlement are that there is an issue with the transfer of funds, the seller is not ready to move out or any other delays that could mean you have moved out of the property you are selling but have nowhere to move to!

Usually there is little you can do to avoid this situation.  As much as you are in contact with the conveyancer and seller, sometimes the problem may arise with the bank or with a last-minute error. 

Though a smooth simultaneous settlement can save you storage, rental or double mortgage costs, you cannot always count on this happening.  Therefore, so many people plan one settlement on a different day to the other to avoid the stress and the additional costs if the dual settlement doesn’t go ahead as planned.

However, you can have a back up plan ready if you cannot move into your new home on settlement day.  Extend your rental or book accommodation with a lax cancellation policy close to the home you are buying.  Liaise with your removalists and get a quote for overnight storage as a plan B in case.

On same day settlements, we also recommend you get a fixed price for the move and book the removalists for the entire day.  This way if there are any delays the removalists have the flexibility to cover the whole settlement period without you incurring surprise costs.

Though moving on settlement day is stressful, you can prepare yourself as much as possible to make sure it happens.  The key is to communicate with your agents, the removalists and the sellers’ representatives as much as you can!

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