The holiday season is fast upon us, but that doesn’t mean property sales slowdown.

With the influx of buyers wanting to make a move before or in January, there are some provisions that need to be made with regards to Contract Dates – as the banks and solicitors  generally shut down over the Christmas / New Years period.

What happens to critical dates during the Christmas/New Year period?

In the latest version of the REIQ Law Society Accredited Contract, the following applies: –

‘Business Day’ is usually defined as meaning – Monday to Friday;

Except where there is a public holiday

OR a day in the period 27 to 31 December (inclusive)

The effect of excluding 27 – 31 December, means that no critical contract dates can fall between 25 December – 1 January. If anything is required to be done during this time, it will be required to be done from 2 January onwards.

Usually this extension means that there is a pile up of critical dates and settlements all due on the first day back in the New Year. From a practical point of view, all the work to prepare for settlement will need to be finalised by the banks and conveyancers prior to Christmas, to ensure a smooth settlement in the New Year. It is good practice and prudent to have your solicitor confirm what version of the Contract you have signed, to ensure that the current version of the contract is being used and that the above dates are effective.

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Cooling-off Periods
Somewhat confusingly the same does not apply in the case of cooling-off periods.  As the cooling off period is imposed by statute, the period is not covered by the standard conditions in conveyancing contracts, but by legislation.

As a result the non-public holidays between Christmas and New Year are counted in the calculation of the 5 business day cooling-off period.  If you are looking at signing a contract to purchase a property over the next week you should keep this in mind because it is likely that the cooling-off period for your contract will expire during the time that most law firms and real estate agencies are closed. Please contact your solicitor or conveyancer for legal advice in respect to the above.