What Happens on Completion Day?

15 December 2022
Buying a new house is an incredibly exciting experience, especially when you finally get to move in and make the property your own, even if it’s not your first time. However, it can also be a very stressful experience, as there’s so many moving parts, paperwork and different elements to consider and sometimes things don’t go to plan.
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Fortunately, completion day is the final step in the process; it’s the day when ownership will be transferred to you from the seller, and you can finally pick up your new keys. You don’t necessarily have to move in on completion day, but the seller will have to move out and they will no longer be liable for the property from the point the keys are handed over. You will need to take metre readings for water, gas and electrics on completion day, and you might want to ensure the property is secure once the seller has left.

When is Completion Day?

Generally speaking, completion day happens roughly 7-28 days after you have exchanged contracts. Both your own conveyancing solicitor and the seller’s solicitor will liaise to arrange this date and time, which all parties must agree upon. The target time for the seller to vacate the property is usually midday, but this can change depending on the size of the property chain. 

It is possible but not particularly wise to exchange and complete on the same day, especially if you’re part of a big chain, because there’s still a chance that either party can pull out at the last minute and mortgage lenders need a notice period of at least 5 working days before they can release funds. Stamp duty is usually paid prior to completion day.

Before completion, your solicitor will confirm that all mortgage conditions have been met and request the money from the lender. You will usually collect your keys from the estate agent or directly from the seller. Lots of people plan for completion day to occur on a Friday so that they can spend the weekend moving in, but you can complete on any working weekday as long as both parties agree. You cannot complete on a weekend as these are not banking days, so the mortgage funds cannot be transferred. With that said, you may prefer to avoid Friday as your completion date because if it fails you will have to wait until the following Monday.

How Does Completion Day Differ for New Builds?

The good news about completion day for new builds is that there is no chain, so you don’t have to wait for someone else to move out of the property before you can collect the keys and move in. However, a fixed completion date isn’t always possible for new build properties as there are sometimes delays with construction. The 7-28 day gap between exchanging and completing can sometimes be months when it comes to new builds, but there is usually 7-10 days’ notice.

What Can Go Wrong on Completion Day?

There are a few problems that can arise on completion day and delay or prevent your move. For instance, if there’s a chain and one of the links delays payment, this can lead to a hold up for everyone else in the chain. 

People typically use a combination of their own funds alongside a mortgage when buying a property, so if the buyer or lender is late in releasing this money to the solicitor, this can also cause a delay. Funds usually need to be transferred by 3-4pm at the latest and if they are not, the transaction will usually have to wait until the following day.

Unfortunately, there are costs involved if completion is late, including interest on the purchase price which is usually 4% and fines for any out of pocket expenses that the buyer or seller has had to pay, like removal fees or hotel costs. 

How Can I Prepare for Completion Day?

Be sure to plan ahead and have everything prepared, including having the funds ready and having all of your paperwork to hand. Line up your removal company and make sure everything is packed and cleared up. You’ll also need to ensure that you are easily contactable so that your solicitor, estate agent, or anyone else can speak to you at any time to confirm the completion. 

Can I Complete without a Conveyancer?

A verified conveyancer, such as John Fowlers Solicitors, will help you with the legal issues involved, as they can be confusing and are pertinent to the purchase of a property. They will be able to liaise with other involved parties and ensure the legal process is done correctly. We can provide expert advice on anything related to buying your home, from start to finish. With that said, if you’re looking for professional support and guidance, get in touch with John Fowlers at your earliest convenience.