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What is Completion Day?

Completion day is the last step in the process of buying and selling. It is the day when ownership is transferred from seller to buyer, the buyer gets the keys to the property and the seller must move out.

What happens on completion day?

Your solicitor must complete a number of different tasks to ensure that completion will go ahead, these include:

  1. Ensuring that the buyers’ mortgage conditions have been satisfied, if so they will then request the money from the lender.
  2. The solicitor representing the seller will request a Redemption Certificate calculated to the day of completion if there’s a mortgage to sell.
  3. Creating completion statements that set out all payments made and received.
  4. Requesting any outstanding payments to be made, including the sellers estate agent fees.
  5. Once all final checks have been made by solicitors on both sides, the buyer’s solicitor will transfer the money to the seller’s solicitor.
  6. The seller’s solicitor will confirm receipt of the funds and confirm completion with the buyer. The keys to the property will then be available for the buyer to collect from the estate agent.
  7. The transfer of funds usually takes place between 12-2pm on a weekday.
  8. The seller should move out ready for the buyer to move in – again this is typically done before midday on a week day.

When is completion day?

Completion day usually happens between 7-28 days after the contracts have been exchanged. It typically will take place on a weekday, with a target move our time of 12pm. Your solicitor with liaise with the seller’s solicitor to arrange a completion date that will need to be agreed upon by all parties. If the property chain is long moving times may differ to suit all parties.

Is it possible to exchange and complete on the same day?

It is possible to exchange and complete on the same day, however it isn’t usually advised, as you will not have a binding contract in place until the day that you are due to move in. This is risky as it means that the buyer or seller can pull out right up until the last minute – the point of exchange.

Moving home on the same day as exchanging contracts is also risky as it means that you may end up wasting time and money on a hiring removal company, clearing rubbish and taking meter readings, which could be delayed if the exchange doesn’t go ahead.

There are also many other reasons that may make it more difficult to exchange and complete on the same day including:

  • Buying with a Mortgage: Most mortgage lenders will only release funds after a notice period of at least 5 working days. Funds are typically requested on the day of exchange. Therefore, if the completion doesn’t happen on the stipulated date, the monies will need to be returned to the lender, along with the transfer fees for doing so.
  • A Property Chain: In an ideal scenario all parties involved in the property chain will complete simultaneously. As if you sell your home before completing on the purchase of your new home, you could be forced to move out with nowhere to immediately move into.
  • Giving notice to landlords: If you are moving out of rented accommodation, you will be required to give notice to your landlord to leave the property. You will need to be sure of the completion date in order to do so.

Exchanging and completing on the same day tend to be more common in purchases or sales by buy-to-let landlords or housing companies. This is because they themselves might not need to move into the property the same day or are cash buyers who do not need to secure funding from a mortgage lender.

What happens on completion day when buying a new build property?

A fixed completion date isn’t possible when buying a new build property. This is because the house may still be being built so it isn’t possible to give an exact date – as the build may be subject to delays. This means that there can sometimes be an extended period between exchanging contracts and the date of completion. What is usually a period of 7 to 28 days can be months when buying a new build.

What problems can arise on completion day?

Some of the issues that can cause problems on completion day include:

  • Delay of purchase funds: Most people will buy property using a combination of their own funds and through a mortgage. If the buyer or mortgage lender is late in releasing the funds to their solicitor, this will cause a delay and completion will not happen on the planned day.
  • Missing banking deadlines: Funds will need to be transferred to the seller’s solicitor’s bank account by 4.00pm in order for completion to happen. If the money is not in by 4pm the transaction will need to wait until the next working day.
  • Delay in the chain: If just one link in the property chain delays payment this will cause a hold up for everyone in the chain.

What can I do to prepare for completion day?

In order to avoid any issues on completion day it is a good idea to:

  • Be prepared – This includes having all your household items packed up and removal services booked in time to move.
  • Be contactable – Make sure you have your phone with you at all times as your solicitor and estate agent will need to be able to speak to you to confirm completion.
  • Have paperwork to hand – Have all paperwork available in case you need to check anything prior to moving in to the new property.
  • Ensure that funds are available – Make sure that you have the money ready to transfer to your solicitor.

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