What is completion day?

Completion day represents the last stage in the process of buying or selling a house. It can take between 7-28 days after exchanging contracts It’s the day on which the money transfers happen, and the buyer is given the key for their brand-new home.

To complete the conveyancing process for buying a house, the buyer’s funds must have been received by the seller’s conveyance before it becomes legally binding. Generally, people will receive the keys to their new house around 12 noon. However, this may vary depending on the size of the property chain.

When is completion day?

The completion date will always be agreed upon between the buyer and seller in advance. Typically, it will be around 7 – 28 days following the day your contract has been exchanged.

Usually, the chosen day to complete will be a weekday and Fridays are traditionally the most popular according to a 2018 TwentyCi Property and Homemover Report. This is because the transfer of funds and the confirmation of this must be completed by a solicitor or conveyancer. Since most solicitors and banks are shut on Saturdays and Sundays, a weekday completion date is essential.

Also, you’ll have to collect keys from an estate agent.

Moving house midweek will usually be much cheaper when compared with the price charged by removals companies at the weekends.

What time do you normally get the keys?

You’ll usually get access to your house key at about 12 pm noon if all payments have been made up until then–which includes paying off any loans taken out against the property as well as transferring ownership details between sellers’ agent and buyers’.

What happens on the day?

All of the hard work that happens on completion day will be done by your conveyancing solicitors. You just need to worry about transferring money before you can pick up the keys.

Meanwhile, your solicitor will be completing the contract exchange and complete the conveyancing process. They’ll be confirming the money is transferred, handling the necessary deeds and paperwork and, in the case of the seller’s solicitors, making sure the mortgage conditions and mortgage completion statement is signed off.

Here’s a basic checklist of what will happen on completion day:

  1. Before the day of completion, the buyer’s solicitor ensures all of the mortgage’s conditions are satisfied. They then request the release of the mortgage funds from their mortgage lender.
  2. The solicitors for the seller submit a request for a Redemption Certificate which has been calculated for the completion date when there is a mortgage that needs to be paid.
  3. The conveyancing teams for both parties then create a completion statement setting out all of the payments being received and made for the client.
  4. Requests will be made for the payment of any outstanding invoice on completion, and the stamp duty land tax will be paid if applicable.
  5. Final checks of your checklist are undertaken by both parties’ solicitors before the buyer’s conveyancing team pays the purchase money balance into the bank system, which then transfers the funds to the sellers.
  6. After the funds have been received by the seller’s conveyancer, the completion will be confirmed with the purchaser. They will then have contacted the estate agents and asked for the release of the keys to the buyer.
  7. Finally, they’ll ensure all charges have been paid, including estate agent fees for the seller. Notification of completion is given to the buyer, and they are able to move house into their brand-new home.

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

It isn’t always possible to exchange and complete in a single day; however, there is a major advantage to this as it speeds the process considerably while also helping you avoid paying a deposit on exchanging contracts.

On the downside, though, it may take until the very last moment to receive confirmation of your move, making it hard to arrange the logistics. A removal company, for example, requires a booking to be made several months before the day, especially in the case of international removals. While they usually aim for flexibility, a specific date must be given.

When should I exchange and complete on the same day?

You should only try to complete both processes in a single day if:

  1. The house you’re selling or purchasing is vacant and moving out has already taken place
  2. The buyer requires no mortgage (cash buyer).
  3. There’s no need for the buyer to move into the property on the same day as completion takes place
  4. There’s no property chain

When not to complete and exchange in one day

You shouldn’t attempt to complete both processes in a single day if:

  1. You’re part of a chain and are reliant on the completion of other transactions first
  2. You must move into your new house on the agreed date
  3. A removals company is required to assist you with your move
  4. Your conveyancer charges more for a same day exchange and completion, and you’re not prepared to pay an additional fee

Can a completion date be moved?

Until you have exchanged contracts, the completion date can be changed. However, once the contracts have been exchanged all parties are legally bound to complete on an agreed date and by a specified time. If, for example, the seller tries to back out of the sale once this happens, they will be in breach of their contract and may be subject to a financial penalty.

It’s important to note that extensions on the completion date can be allowed if they are requested early enough in the process. It isn’t a guarantee but can happen if both parties agree.

What happens if I’m in a property chain?

A property chain is the number of house purchases that are linked together in a chain; each dependent on the chain of transactions. Typically, property chains consist of about 4-5 transactions. This means the timeline of the completion day will vary depending on the number of people in the chain and whether any unforeseen issues arise.

Usually, the process of completion begins with somebody who’s only purchasing. If you’re not selling a house or are first time buyers, the chain begins with you and ends with someone who’s just selling their home.

Most chains begin at about 11 am and end around 4 pm. Here is a simple step by step guide to a property chain timeline:

  • 11 am – the chain’s first buyer will complete their purchase.
  • 1 pm – the second purchaser completes their transaction.
  • 3 pm – the third purchaser completes their purchase.
  • 4 pm – the last person who will only be selling, not buying, receives their payment and completes their transaction, ending the chain.

Usually, the deadline for completion is before 5.30 pm since the CHAPS banking system closes at this time, and most solicitors will also end work for the week.

What happens if I’m not in a chain?

When you’re not part of a property chain, completion day is fairly straightforward since there’s no need to rely on other transactions completing before your own. The timeline for completion when you’re not part of a chain is similar to that outlined above but will usually finish earlier. Completion will generally take place about 11 am as long as all of the buyer’s conveyancing team have received all of the necessary payments so they can transfer funds to the solicitors for the seller. Since the seller won’t be purchasing another property, the buyer won’t have a long wait to move into their new house.

Completion day for new build properties

New build conveyancing works a little differently to than for older properties. Primarily, this is because no fixed completion date can be arranged as the house will still be under construction. In such cases, the period between the exchange of contracts and completion of new-build homes could be several months. This will depend on the developer of the property and your own circumstances. It’s only once the construction of your new house has been finished that your completion date may be set.

There will be other considerations too. A building survey is important and should be carried out before completion day but for new build properties, a different type of survey should be commissioned. A snagging survey will identify issues that may need fixing before you move into the property. Local surveyors will be able to help you with this. You may also need the help of a structural engineer to ensure you have the correct advice.,

What could go wrong?

Several things may go wrong on the day of completion that may result in days. Some include:

  • A delay in receipt of purchase funds – a lot of buyers use a combination of a mortgage lender and their own money to fund their purchase. Whenever possible, all purchase funds should be transferred to the buyer’s solicitor on the day before completion. This allows full payment to be made to the solicitor for the seller on the completion day morning. When payments are made late, this causes delays to the completion timeframe.
  • A missed CHAPS deadline – should the funds not reach the bank account of the seller’s solicitor by 4pm, transaction completion may be delayed until the next working day as CHAPS systems for most banks close at this hour.
  • Delays in the property chain – just one delayed payment can cause delays across the entire property chain or if the chain fails.

Should I hire a conveyancer?

There’s a lot more to buying your dream home than just finding the best house price, getting a great deal from a mortgage broker and waiting on the estate agent releasing the keys so you can move in!

When you’re buying or selling a residential property or commercial property, getting independent legal advice is essential, particularly if you are buying a shared ownership home. Money-saving on conveyancing fees is a bad idea as it’s never a good idea to try to go through the process of conveyancing alone. You should, therefore, consider hiring a conveyancer as part of the purchase price of your property.

The legal complexities of selling and buying are confusing and can be time-consuming. Also, if you make a mistake at any stage, it could massively increase the cost of buying your home, and avoiding this happening is well worth what you’ll pay in legal fees.

A professional will be able to make sure that the entire conveyancing process is completed correctly. From carrying out the land registry and conveyancing searches that will spot any potential issues that could affect your transaction, to ensuring that the transfer of equity goes through without a hitch. From helping you with your stamp duty payment obligations to arranging for a lease extension on the property you intend to buy.

How to choose the right conveyancing solicitor?

When it comes to the day of completion, your conveyancer is set to play a vital role, coordinating all payments and liaising with the conveyancer for the other party. Should any issues arise that require resolution or if you’ve got questions about any part of the process of buying, you’ll be able to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your conveyancer is around to help.

When choosing a professional to handle your property sale or purchase, though, it’s important to compare conveyancers to ensure you’ll be hiring someone who is an expert in the field. A low fixed fee may look attractive, but if the solicitor is a medical negligence expert and only has limited knowledge of sellers and buyers conveyancing you could be getting poor value for money and putting your transaction at risk.

Getting conveyancing quotes from local conveyancers and doing adequate research will make sure that you make the right choice for you and get the best price for the services you require. This is the best way to make sure that what happens on completion day runs smoothly and without a hitch. Click here to find out more about how to improve your moving experience.

Your completion day checklist

  1. Plan ahead – moving out may not be possible until the day of completion, but planning ahead means you’ll be able to vacate the property rapidly. Give yourself lots of time to pack so you aren’t panicking at the last moment.
  2. Stay contactable – your estate agent or conveyancer might need to make contact with you to be able to complete the process, so charge up your phone, turn the volume on and keep it by your side all the time. Keep the contact details for your conveyancer on hand too, just in case.
  3. Get the purchase funds ready to send.
  4. Get prepared – ensure all of the essential paperwork is easy to find in case there is the need for final checks.
  5. The final stop is to stay organised – make sure you’ve confirmed the day’s timeline with other parties in the process.
  6. Use Moovshack’s sales completion tool to track your progress.
Mick Silver

Mick Silver

Mick Silver is the CEO and co-founder of Moovshack. With over 20 years in the property industry. After working with traditional estate agents, Mick decided to launch Moovshack; a fully interactive property app.