Why are there so many completions on a Friday?


It would make sense if …

You were watching a scene from Casualty, and then you might expect to see something similar to this graph coming directly from a heart rate monitor.

But if you were a conveyancer you would recognise the graph as being something completely different.

The graph actually shows the days of the week when myhomemove completed on transactions in February this year. As you can see, we have a surge of completions on a Friday.

February was an unusual month as it started on a Monday, and exactly four weeks later it finished on a Friday. Not only that, but slap-bang in the middle was Friday the 13th (I did say it was unusual).

The graph shows in a heartbeat just how consistent the trend is, and it goes without saying that for conveyancers, Fridays are the busiest days of the month, and that the last Friday of the month is the busiest Friday. So why does this happen?

One of our clients actually said to one of our conveyancers that you had to complete on a Friday because “it is the law”. Well I don’t know where in the statute books that can be found, but there are times when it seems to be the case.

Often the reason for completing on a Friday is so that people have the weekend to move in, and the client does not want to take any time off work. Given that people move home every 5-10 years, this makes the physical move of a family’s possessions a race against time as they try to move their accumulated possessions in the space of two days.

Understandably it is also common for clients to schedule completion for the last Friday of the month so that their first mortgage repayment can coincide with their monthly salary payment.

You might think that this is all understandable and makes good sense, but it overlooks the unintended consequences.

One of these, and you may remember, was on Friday 17th October 2014 when the BACS system failed for nearly ten hours. On average, £227bn is transacted through the system each day – so we can only imagine how much money was scheduled to be moved on that particular Friday for salaries as well as completions. This failure put at risk many thousands of home moves – and I guess it is something we would all like to avoid going forward.

Another consequence is the sheer pressure that is placed on removal and van hire companies (as well as conveyancers). Imagine looking out at your depot car park on a Tuesday and seeing idle vehicles, knowing that on Friday it will be completely empty. Someone I know has tried to run a fleet of six removal vans and found it to be the hardest thing he has ever done.

Given that the majority of transactions take place on a Friday, I doubt that agents could manage the call volumes that this creates without the help of Moneypenny, or their own overspill facility such as that of Foxtons.

At myhomemove we are trying our best to sow the seeds of completing on alternative days in order to avoid the potential traps that lie ahead. It would be great if agents joined in.

There are other reasons for trying to take the pressure off Fridays. The table below shows the % of completions that take place within a particular time frame following the exchange of contracts:

Simultaneous 2-3 days 4-7 days 8-12 days 13-20 days 21-30 days
26% 14% 23% 16% 12% 9%

These results have been virtually identical for the last five years, so what are they telling us? Firstly, it is worth saying that when I started working as an agent many years ago, the period between exchange and completion was a standard 28 days, but now less than one in ten take place in this relaxed and much less stressful timeframe (after all, many would prefer 28 days’ notice for their moving day rather than three).

Some 40% complete within three days, which means that many people will exchange on a Wednesday and move home on the following Friday.

Nearly two-thirds of people move within a week of exchange, and 80% will move within three weeks.

And let’s not forget that one in four exchange and complete on the same day, which leads me to comment on another thing.

Since most agents target exchanges, most conveyancers target completions, and most target periods seem to end on Fridays, everything focuses on the same day. That same day for many could be the end of a week, a month, a quarter, a half year and for some, even a financial year.

Logic suggests there are some simple things that agents could do to help, and it would make sense if:

  • targeting periods ended on any day but Friday (Tuesdays look great!)
  • the targeting period ended in the third week, not the fourth week: after all, 66% will complete a week later
  • consider, as some agents do, having a 13 x 4 week targeting regime. I can only imagine it’s very sensible and very confusing in equal measures, but it does take the pressure off the end of a calendar month
  • agents targeted completions rather than exchanges

At myhomemove we shall be working even harder with our clients to promote a workable timescale, and suggest a day other than a Friday for completion.

Agents could start influencing this even earlier by making it part of the final negotiation and including alternative dates for completion on their sales memoranda. Between us we can make the final days of a transaction much less stressful for our mutual clients.

By the way, it seems that fewer Triskaidekaphobians are moving home now, as Friday the 13th doesn’t seem to have the effect it used to!


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  1. Rob Hailstone

    Seems to make perfect sense Stephen and it might help reduce the increased likelihood of getting caught up in the growing trend of ‘Friday Afternoon Fraud.’

  2. Eamonn


    nicely written articule but is there nothing better to talk about

  3. hannahmackinlay

    I actually tell commercial property purchasers NOT to complete on a Friday! Its probably better for them to complete on a Tuesday or Wednesday for a number of reasons, not least that it avoids the completion monies banking carnage of residential purchasers on the Friday. They have Monday or Tuesday to get the money, security, services etc organised, Wednesday to complete and then Thursday and Friday – normal working days for their employees to make the property secure arrange utility arrangements and so on.

    But yep, Friday is de riguer for resi. Im hoping to sell my house soon and I will move out midweek! No removal van panic etc.

    Interestingly from what I understand, chain transactions are pretty much unknown anywhere else in the world! Everyone else either bridges or lodges between sale and purchase. And their lawyers get usually about 1% rather than the buttons that residential conveyancers have undercut each other to.

  4. johnclay

    When will agents learn that setting targets is pointless.  They are inevitably pulled out of thin air with no regard to the actual circumstances, and quite often with no knowledge of the chain above or below.

    Any conveyancer will tell you that they always ignore targets.  They will proceed as quickly as possible.

    1. smile please

      Disagree with you on this.

      A good agent will check all links in a chain and establish agreed timescales. if a link is then added they will make them aware at the outset of a sale being agreed.

      I find it conveyancers who have no regard for clients or agents wishes who want to continue at their own pace (as you mentioned above).

      This has been confirmed in the erosion of fees convyancers receive. the majority are all the same so why pay a higher fee? (yes there are exceptions both ends of the scale).

      Most conveyancers work in the past 5 days a week, 9-5, hour for lunch calls ignored or assistant has to take. Still write not email, they even send a cheque  as opposed to a bank transfer on completion!

      Most agents, buyers and sellers are tech savvy and the expectation of customer service has risen.

      Conveyancers taking over a week to answer a simple enquiry and hiding behind the “It takes as long as it takes” line are why targets are not met.

      1. Stephen Hayter

        In which case you will appreciate everything that we do.  With many conveyancers now aligned on a no sale no fee basis, the incentive to exchange and complete is the same for everyone.

        1. smile please

          Sorry i don’t follow?

          Are you saying your firm is different to others?

          I don’t believe no sale no fee has incentive conveyancers to speed up and make sure contracts are exchanged and completed.

          For partners and firm owners i can see why they think this. Problem is a lot of conveyancers are employed and yes they may get a bonus but they also get a salary – It makes little difference to them if a case goes through or not,

          Also the conveyancer is safe in the knowledge they have the client over a barrel as if the sale does fall through (even if the conveyancers fault) they will still keep the client as you will charge them if they change solicitors.

          Just from this thread you can see the gap between agents and conveyancers. Issues that 99% of agents have being swept under the rug and dismissed.

          The problem as i see it (and i may be wrong) conveyancers see themselves above agents and even their own clients.

          This leads to the poor service both agents and clients receive. Their is very little in the way of customer service as conveyancers do not pitch for work, either the agent gets the referral for them or the client shops around on price.

          Very few buyers or sellers have a relationship with a conveyancer its about a process as far as conveyancers are concerned.


          1. Stephen Hayter

            Smile please – like wilko, you are very welcome to spend a day at our offices and see how you may be wrong. When would you prefer?

            1. smile please

              As Wilko said, there are exceptions you very well maybe one of them.

              Thank you for your kind offer but i have spent days with conveyancers in the past, yes looks impressive, say the right things but then when its back to a normal working day reverts to type.


  5. wilko

    Why are there so many completions on a Friday?

    Because  conveyancers have an inability to plan ahead and are totally reactive rather than pro active.

    They are, on the whole, poor forward planners and cross communicators and therefore are always running a backlog of files which, in the end normally means they put little thought into any sensible options such as a more even spread of completions across the week.

    1. Stephen Hayter

      wilko, you are very welcome to spend a day at our offices and see just how much forward planning and pro-activity does take place. When would you prefer?

      1. wilko

        ……that is why I used the words “on the whole”……there a small minority of conveyancers that have moved forward with the technology now available and are very pro active (it would seem from your response you fall into that category) but sadly this minority is often held back by the vast majority who still work in a disorganised manner and expect all associated parties to sing to “their tune”. I suspect, being one of the good eggs of the industry, you could put together an extensive list of conveyancers who would fall into that majority.

        1. PeeBee

          wilko – Mr Hayter forgets/omits one VITAL point from his response.

          All the forward planning and pro-activity equals SQUAT when the conveyance at the bottom/middle/end of the chain is a complete kn@cker – does it?

          Any machine is only as efficient as the slowest or weakest part.  The second people like Mr Hayter ’embrace’ that, the better.

  6. PeeBee

    Oh, dear… I really don’t know why it is that I seem to disagree with virtually everything Mr Hayter says in his articles – I just do!

    As the poster above states – “targets” are useless.  Perhaps they are an acronym – Take A Rough Guess… Every Time Scuppered – but in ‘real world’ Estate Agency there will virtually ALWAYS be one link in the chain who will ONLY move on a Friday.

    Mr Hayter then suggests to ‘move’ everyone’s moving day to a Tuesday – preferably the third in the month.  So – anyone want to predict what happens then…?

    Not exactly a well thought-through plan at the best of times, I would suggest.

    “At myhomemove we shall be working even harder with our clients to promote a workable timescale, and suggest a day other than a Friday for completion.”

    Good luck with that – let us know how you get on.

    In terms of the frankly dangerous situation of agreeing simultaneous exchange and completion, perhaps Mr Hayter would be good enough to advise why the practice was ever allowed to become ‘the norm’?  It suits no-one in reality – and the stress and upheaval it causes is probably one of the main reasons for the public’s ill feelings surrounding the moving experience – reflecting most badly on the Agent who has to try to smooth the waters between the stressed parties.

    Okay – I’ve had my rantlet – bring on the ‘Dislikes’…

    1. smile please

      Sorry its a like from me!


    2. PeeBee

      Thanks for the ‘Dislike’ – whoever you are.  It’s a pity that you haven’t said WHAT they dislike about what I’ve posted… and why.

      I’d like to discuss this further and can’t as it is.

      And as for you, smile please – you’ve clearly let the side down by ‘Liking’ what I posted and you should therefore be deeply ashamed!

      Oh – and you seem to have a co-conspirator!

      Tut-tut!  ;o)

  7. Rob Hailstone

    I communicate with hundreds of conveyancers on a weekly basis and the majority express nothing but concern for what their clients want, and that isn’t always just speed. I also get emails from conveyancers who work late, early and over a weekend. Why don’t agents and clients know they work weekends etc, so they don’t get constantly interrupted like they do on weekdays. It isn’t the attitude of agents, conveyancers or others that causes these problems, it is that the process is lacking.

    As for completion following exchange quickly, that is the last thing a conveyancer wants.

    1. PeeBee

      Sorry, Rob – are you intimating that clients and Agents actually have the minutest chance of contact with their conveyance at a weekend or after 3.45 weekdays?

      Please list those conveyancers – I guarantee you now that they will have more new business put their way by 2pm this afternoon than they would be able to handle by the end of this Millennium…

  8. PeeBee


    Erm… hang on… I’ve just had a lightbulb moment.

    The problem here is that chains load the figures – don’t they?  If ONE awkward s0d wants to move on a Friday then they ALL have to fit in around them – innit?

    So – PeeBee’s simple answer to the problem:

    stagger the chains (STC). (copyright PeeBee 2015)

    Let’s take ‘yer average’ chain – four or five links.  Using the STC method –

    Bottom of the chain completes on Monday.

    Next link – gets done Tuesday

    Next up the line on the Wednesday

    Next (one or two) complete on the Thursday.

    Sorted! **

    Maybe – just maybe – that way you will either be able to actually speak to a conveyance on a Friday OR they can feel less guilty about hitting the golf course before their clients get key release!

    ** of course, we all have dealt in past, present – and no doubt future – with chains that were so mahoosive that you could use them to anchor the Ark Royal.  They’ll be a bit of a bu99er – and I’m not advocating that links 4-63 or whatever all complete and move on the Thursday or that will give Mr Hayter a reason to show us another cutesy graph – so they will all have to wait until the next Monday when the process starts all over again with the next 4.

    I wonder why no-one has put such a simple solution forward before now…

  9. Jacqueline Emmerson

    At our firm, Emmersons Solicitors in the North East, our conveyancers never stop. We don’t operate a cheap pile em high operation. I monitor their workloads and if they get too busy take on more staff. However, there are many things that mess up a chain. Cheap, pile it high operations where they haven’t got time to get to all of their files in time. Thus our staff end up doing part of the work that their counterpart ought to be doing. The banking system collapsing, that has happened three times in the last six months and is truly exhausting for our staff and our bank manager, we are lucky enough to be able to deal with him directly and not a call centre. Clients who forget to send back important documents in time. Clients who decide to go on holiday at the last minute and so can’t take part in the process when we need them to. Lenders who won’t answer queries or won’t deal in a timely fashion with reports that we have sent to them. Reports that protect the lender and which they demand. Lenders who delay sending out mortgage offers, or who won’t provide a final balance quickly. Let’s not forget the endless anti money laundering hoops that we have to jump through. The client who forgets to tell you until the last minute that part of their funds will be provided by a relative who happens to live overseas. This is despite the fact that we make it clear that the sooner we are informed of this the sooner we can do money laundering checks. These are essential. I am not going to jail because someone wants to clean money through our office.  I could on. Needless to say our staff rarely take a full lunch break, often no break and go home shattered at the end of every week. We don’t require sympathy that’s the way  job is. However, it is not right to constantly blame the legal profession for everything. As you can see from the above list the issues are many.

    1. PeeBee

      Ms Emmerson

      You have provided a fairly comprehensive but certainly not exhaustive list of the issues that face your profession in the conveyancing process, which many of us mere mortal estate Agents may not have taken the time to fully appreciate so thank you for drawing those to our attention – however I feel I must take you to task somewhat on one of the things you state:

      ” I monitor their workloads and if they get too busy take on more staff.”

      Sounds wonderful.  A caring employer… finger on the pulse… react to situations as and when they happen.

      Here’s my problems though.  Firstly, would I be correct in imagining the recruitment process for conveyancers takes AT LEAST two months?  That would be time for a good half of your current workload to fall through the machine, would it not?

      What if the ‘busy times’ you refer to simply drop off – become the ‘quiet times’ we all know form a good part of the year?  Redundancies?  Lay-offs?

      Companies should try what my local ‘pet’ solicitor does – closes the book on new cases when he can’t see over the top of the pile on his desk.

      Works a treat…


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