Completion day is the last step in the property buying process. On completion day, the money will be transferred so you will officially have bought your property. You’ll then be able to collect the keys to your new home and move in.
However, there are a few things that will need to be done to ensure completion day goes forward. Our below guide can help you to know what to expect from completion day and what you can do to help it run smoothly.
This advice is for those who are buying and selling a property in England and Wales. Scotland will have a slightly different property buying process.
What Needs to Happen Before Completion Can Happen?
The exchange of contracts needs to happen before completion day can go forward. The deposit will be paid with the exchange of contracts and once the contracts are exchanged, the property purchase will be legally binding.
The buyer’s solicitor will have also confirmed that the mortgage can go ahead before the completion date, so they can request the funds from the lender.
Can You Exchange Contracts on Completion Day?
Usually, the exchange of contracts will happen around seven to 28 days before you would complete on the sale. It can sometimes take months to complete a sale. This happens when a buyer can’t be found for a property in the chain, or it can sometimes happen with new build properties that have delays in finishing construction.
It is possible to exchange contracts and complete on the same day, although it will typically require more planning and you’ll be more at risk of things going wrong. Exchanging and completing on the same day will usually mean you won’t know you’re definitely moving until that day – so it can be difficult to arrange things like removals vans and mail forwarding. You’ll also be left in a bad position if you’re buying and the seller makes demands last minute, as you’ll probably already be packed and ready to move.
When the contracts are exchanged, the mortgage funds will be requested. Some mortgage lenders will release the funds on the same day, which can make exchanging and completing on the same day possible. However, many lenders will require a period of five working days to be able to release the funds, so completion day would have to wait a few days after exchanging contracts.
Exchanging and completing on the same day is easier if your property sale is not part of a chain, as you won’t have to worry about delays caused by other sales, or sales falling through completely. If you are not in a chain, you only need to be concerned with what is happening in your own property sale.
What Happens on Completion Day of House Sale?
On completion day, the buyer’s solicitor or conveyancer will transfer the funds to purchase the property to the seller’s solicitor or conveyancer. Once the seller has received the funds, the buyer will be able to collect the keys and move in.
The keys can be collected either from the seller directly or from their estate agents. What time you’re able to collect the keys will depend on when the money has been transferred, but it is usually done mid-morning to mid-afternoon.
What’s the Best Day to Complete?
Completion day will usually take place on a weekday, so the money is able to be transferred and confirmed in the same day.
Many people choose to complete on a Friday, so they have the weekend to organise their new home after they have moved everything in on completion day. However, removals may be more expensive on a Friday due to the high demand, so you might find it more cost-efficient to complete on a Monday or Tuesday. Solicitors and conveyancers may also be less busy earlier in the week, so it could help your completion process to be conducted quickly and efficiently to organise your completion day after the weekend.
What Happens on Moving Day in a Chain?
When you are in a property chain, each sale will be dependent on the sale in front of it being completed to be able to complete itself. So, when you will be able to collect your keys will depend on where you are in that chain.
If you are behind someone in a chain, you will have to wait for the seller to have their completion day before you can have yours. First time buyers, or buyers not waiting for another sale to complete will be able to collect their keys first. Usually, if you are selling a property in a chain, you will have to have moved out by around midday on completion day and you will be able to collect your keys to move into your new property sometime after that.
What Can Cause Delays for Completion Day?
Whilst it might seem like there’s not much that needs to happen on completion day, things can still go wrong and cause delays.
Waiting to receive a mortgage offer can lengthen the period between accepting an offer and getting to completion day. Whilst a buyer may have received a mortgage in principle, the formal mortgage offer will need to be made by the lender before the exchange and completion can take place. The mortgage offer can be delayed if there are any problems with your application, like if the information you’ve given is incorrect, or if the property is valued by the lender at a different price than what you agreed to pay.
Another delay can be caused if the mortgage lender or the buyer is late releasing the funds to purchase the house. This type of delay will usually happen on completion day itself, which can cause problems for people who have arranged movers, or if they need to vacate their own house as someone else has purchased it and is due to move in.
The funds are released late, or if the solicitor is late in transferring the funds, the completion day may need to wait until the following day. If the funds are not cleared in the bank by 3pm or 4pm, the banking deadline will be missed, and the transaction will have to be done on the next working day. This can cause more delays if the completion day was planned for a Friday and will not have to be rescheduled after the weekend.
If any of these delays happen ahead of you in the property chain, it could cause delays for your own completion day too.
What Happens if You Don’t Complete on Completion Day?
If you’re unable to complete on completion day due to the above delays caused by missing bank deadlines, you can reschedule to the following day when the transaction can go through. If the delay is your fault, you may be liable to pay a fine.
Usually, issues with completion day are just delays. People are unlikely to be pulling out after exchange of contracts and it very rarely happens but sometimes it does. If it does happen, the person who pulled out will have to pay out for a lot of the fees that the other party had to pay up to that point, such as conveyancing costs and estate agent fees.
If someone pulling out of a sale ahead of you in the property chain causes your completion day to not go through, they will usually have to reimburse you for any costs you have incurred.
What Can I Do to Make Completion Day Successful?
There are a few things you can do to help make your completion day a success.
You should start by planning ahead and being prepared. You should make sure as much as possible is already packed ahead of completion day, so you’re ready to move out quickly as soon as you get the go-ahead. You should also make sure all the relevant paperwork is easily accessible and not packed away – you might want to make scans and have a soft copy available on your mobile. This way you can quickly check any details if you need to before your move.
You should make sure that you’re easy to contact in the lead-up to completion and throughout the day itself. Your phone should be to hand at all times, so your solicitor or estate agent will be able to get hold of you if they need to confirm any details or confirm the completion.
You should ensure your funds are in order and ready to be transferred. If you are using a combination of your own funds and a mortgage, you would ideally have all the funds in one place so just one transaction is needed on completion day.
You should also make sure you contact your solicitor the morning of completion day to make sure everything is on track for the day. Make sure you have confirmed the expected timings with all the relevant parties, including the time you will need to move out of your property and the time you expect to be able to pick up the keys and move into your new home.
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