Completion Day: A Buyer’s Guide

No matter how many times you’ve done it, completion day in the house-buying process is always a big day. It’s also a busy day.

From making sure everything has gone according to plan, to picking up the keys and starting the big move, there’s a lot to think about.

Our guide will walk you through the process so you know what to expect at the end of your home purchase.

What happens on completion day?

Completion day is the final step in buying your new home. From that day on, the house belongs to you. But since it’s the final milestone, there’s a lot going on.

It usually happens between seven and 28 days after you’ve exchanged contracts – and will always happen on a weekday. On the day, the mortgage funds will be transferred to your solicitor, then on to your seller’s solicitor. The moment they receive these funds, completion has officially taken place.

You might want to keep in touch with your conveyancer throughout the day to ensure you know where things stand and what the timeline looks like.

After the seller’s solicitor has received the funds, they’ll tell the estate agent to release the keys to the property. They’ll then call your solicitor, who will then call you to let you know it’s all been done. You can go pick up your new keys and start moving in.

If you’re the first buyer in the chain, this will usually happen between 9am and 11am. For each buyer further down the chain, there’s usually a one or two hour wait added.

Your conveyancing solicitor will then register you as the new owner of the home with the Land Registry and you should receive the documentation shortly after. Your legal team will also pay any Stamp Duty, if necessary.

Can I exchange contracts and complete on the same day?

It is possible to exchange and complete on the same day, but your mortgage lender needs to approve this.

That’s because lenders typically only release the agreed funds after a notice period of at least five working days. Usually, when contracts are exchanged, the funds are requested, which is why there’s a delay between the two milestones.

Exchanging and completing together can speed the process up, but it can also lead to certain complications.

For example, if you aren’t certain you’re moving until the day you exchange and complete, you’ll struggle to arrange a removals van or company. And if anything goes wrong, you won’t have the time between exchanging and completing to fix it.

It’s much more straightforward to exchange and complete on the same day if you and your seller are both chain-free or if you’re a cash buyer, as you won’t have to worry about a mortgage lender releasing the funds.

What can go wrong on completion day?

The biggest cause of something going wrong on completion day is the chain you’re in. If someone fails to complete their purchase, it then has a knock-on effect on everyone else in the chain.

If you are forced to delay your move, you could find yourself dealing with a fine. You will also likely be fined if you can’t move out of your home because of someone else collapsing the chain – even if it’s not your fault.

But there is a certain level of protection in this scenario. If your seller can’t move, they’ll be fined. This fine will be passed onto you, and you can use it to pay your fine to the buyers of your current home. So you won’t face real financial implications if it’s not your fault.

Make sure you’ve arranged your removals company or van, if you’re doing it yourself. Confirming with the company a day or two before completion can help to reduce the chances of a problem there.

The banks involved in the sale could also cause complications. When you’re involved in a chain, each bank has to receive and release funds. When you’re near the bottom of the chain, your bank might not receive the funds until later than expected.

Having the right conveyancing team will give you the best chance of minimising any chance of problems cropping up.

To see how we could help with your home move, try our conveyancing calculator.


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