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What Happens on Completion Day?

Updated: Jul 2

Completion day marks the finish line of your house-buying journey!  It's the day the property officially becomes yours – you get the keys, and the seller has to be out.  The bulk of the legal work is done by this point, and the focus is on transferring the remaining money and confirming the change of ownership.


Completion day can be a whirlwind of excitement and nerves all rolled into one.  Whether you're a first-time buyer eagerly awaiting the keys to your dream home or a seasoned investor expanding your portfolio, understanding how completion day works is key to a smooth experience.  While the process should be straightforward, there's always the potential for last-minute hiccups, so being prepared makes all the difference.





What is Completion Day?


Completion day is the grand finale of the house-buying process. It's the day when all the legal paperwork, mortgage arrangements, and negotiations finally come to a head, and the property officially becomes yours. Think of it as the day you go from prospective buyer to full-fledged homeowner!  Although it usually happens a week or two after contracts are exchanged, there's always flexibility on the timeframe, sometimes extending up to a month if needed.   


The core event on completion day is the transfer of funds –  your solicitor sends the remaining balance of the purchase price to the seller's solicitor.  Once that money arrives and is confirmed, the deal is legally sealed.  The seller has to have vacated the property (usually by midday), and the estate agent gets the green light to hand over those coveted keys!


Key Points:

  • Completion day signifies the official transfer of ownership.

  • It typically occurs 7-28 days after exchanging contracts.

  • The main task is the buyer's solicitor transferring the full purchase price.

  • Once the seller receives the money, the buyer can collect the keys.


a couple on completion day moving into their new home


Completion Day with a Property Chain


Imagine a line of dominos – that's what a property chain looks like!  A chain forms when multiple house sales depend on each other.  You're buying from someone who's buying from someone else, and so on. The whole system starts with someone who only has a house to sell and ends with someone who only has money to spend (often a first-time buyer).  


In a perfect world, everyone in the chain completes on the same day, allowing for a smooth transition up the ladder.  Unfortunately, reality can be a bit messier.  If just one transaction hits a snag – a delayed mortgage offer, missing paperwork, etc. – it can throw a wrench in the whole chain, potentially delaying everyone's moving plans. This is why communication and preparedness are absolutely vital when you're part of a property chain.


Key Points

  • A property chain links multiple buyers and sellers together.

  • Everyone aims for simultaneous completion, but delays can happen.

  • A single delay can cause a domino effect throughout the chain.

  • Open communication is crucial for navigating chains successfully.


Completion Day with No Chain


If you're lucky enough to be buying a house with no chain attached, your completion day experience should be a breeze. Think of it as a direct sprint to the finish line!  Since you're not waiting on anyone else to sell their property, everything depends on your own timeline and how quickly your solicitor and mortgage provider (if you have one) can process things.


Some people achieve completion within a matter of days after exchange, while others prefer a bit more breathing room. Either way, without a chain to hold you back, you've got maximum flexibility to pick your moving day and settle into your new home without the added stress of coordinating with multiple parties.


Key Points:

  • No chain = no waiting on other transactions.

  • Faster completion is often possible.

  • You have more control over your moving timeline.

  • It's a much simpler process overall.


Key Tasks on Completion Day

While completion day can feel like it's out of your hands, there are a couple of crucial things you need to take care of, both as a buyer and a seller:


Buyer Tasks


The biggest one is money! Ideally, all funds owed (the rest of  your deposit, mortgage money, legal fees, etc.) need to be with your solicitor  the DAY BEFORE completion. This gives them time to transfer everything to the seller's side smoothly.  Also, make sure you're easily reachable on completion day – your solicitor might need to confirm details, and the estate agent will want to hand over the keys!


Seller Tasks


This is all about moving out! Unless a different time was specifically agreed, the standard is to vacate the property by midday on completion day.  Leaving it later risks annoying the new owners and might lead to additional fees. Aim for a clean and empty house, ready for its next chapter.


Key Points

  • Buyers – have your funds ready the day before completion.

  • Sellers – be out of the property on time.

  • Everyone – be available for communication from solicitors and estate agents.


What Can Go Wrong on Completion Day


Even with the best-laid plans, completion day isn't always immune to hiccups. Here are some common snags that can cause delays or even derail the process in the final stretch:


  • Late Funds: If the buyer's mortgage money doesn't arrive on time, or there's an unexpected hold-up with transferring their deposit, it throws off the whole timetable.  This is why getting all your finances to your solicitor well in advance is so important.

  • Missed Deadlines:  The CHAPS banking system (used to transfer large sums) shuts down in the late afternoon. If the money hasn't reached the seller's solicitor by then, you might be forced to wait until the next working day to complete.

  • Chain Reaction: When you're part of a chain, everyone else's problems become your problems. A single issue with one person's sale can have a ripple effect, leading to delays or even causing the whole chain to collapse.


Key Points

  • Delays with transferring funds are a common cause of problems.

  • CHAPS banking deadlines add time pressure.

  • Property chains increase the risk of something going wrong due to multiple linked transactions.


Importance of a Good Conveyancer


Let's be honest, trying to handle the legal side of buying or selling a house on your own is a recipe for stress and potential disaster. This is where a good conveyancer comes in. Think of them as your completion day superhero! 


A conveyancer is a legal professional specialising in property transactions. They handle the intricate paperwork, communicate with all parties involved, and keep tabs on the progress of your sale or purchase.  If issues crop up (which they often do), a skilled conveyancer can troubleshoot, smooth things out, and protect your interests every step of the way.


Key Points

  • Conveyancers take care of the complex legal aspects of a house sale.

  • They coordinate with the seller/buyer, solicitors, and mortgage lenders.

  • A good conveyancer can help resolve problems and reduce stress.


Tips for a Smooth Completion Day


Preparation is the name of the game when it comes to a stress-free completion day.  The sooner you get your ducks in a row, the less likely you are to face last-minute problems.


Don't leave your paperwork until the last minute.  Getting all your signed documents to your solicitor with plenty of time to spare avoids a frantic rush to find those missing signatures.


Aim to have all the required funds with your solicitor a couple of days before completion day. This gives them adequate time to arrange the transfer to the seller's solicitor without any deadline panic.


Schedule a quick call with your conveyancer on the morning of completion day.  They can update you on the progress and let you know if there are any last-minute instructions you need to follow.


Be easily reachable! Make sure your solicitor and the estate agent have a way to contact you quickly in case they need to confirm details that could influence the timing of your completion and key collection.


If you're the seller, a timely move-out makes all the difference. Aim to be completely packed up and out of the property by midday at the latest to avoid annoying the new owners and potentially incurring extra fees.


Action

Benefits

Submit paperwork early

Avoids last-minute scrambling

Send funds in advance

Ensures timely transfer, reduces stress

Check in with your conveyancer

Stay updated, address any issues quickly

Be available on completion day

Facilitates smooth communication for everyone involved

Sellers: vacate on time

Shows respect to the buyer, could prevent extra costs


Completion on Saturdays & New Builds


Thinking of aiming for a Friday completion so you can move in over the weekend? Sadly, Saturdays are off the table. Most banks and solicitors' offices are closed on weekends, so legally completing the transaction isn't possible.  Fridays tend to be the most popular completion day precisely for this reason – it allows people to get settled into their new home over the weekend.


Things get even trickier with new builds.  Unlike buying an existing property, you can't set a fixed completion date in advance since the developer first has to finish building the house!  The exchange-to-completion window can be quite long, sometimes several months. Once the property is built, your developer will give you notice, usually 10-14 days, before the official completion date.


Key Points:

  • Completion cannot happen on a Saturday or Sunday.

  • New build completions depend on the construction being finished.

  • You'll usually get a short notice period before completion on a new build.


The Finish Line: Completing and Moving into Your New Home


Completion day is a pivotal moment in the home buying process.  While it can be a whirlwind of emotions, knowing what to expect and taking steps to prepare will help things go smoothly. Remember, a good conveyancer is your best ally along the way; they'll guide you through the legal complexities and make sure your interests are protected. 


With those keys finally in hand, you're ready to start the next exciting chapter as a homeowner!


Ready to Make Your Move Easy?


Let Denix Moving take the stress out of your moving day.  We're an award-winning removal company in London known for our reliability, affordability, and friendly service. Get in touch for a free quote and discover how we can turn moving day into a breeze, letting you focus on settling into your wonderful new home.




FAQ

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

A: Completion day is the final step in the home-buying process. On this day, the money is transferred from the buyer to the seller, contracts are exchanged, and you get the keys to your new home. Your conveyancing solicitor will confirm completion, and you can finally pick up the keys and move in!

Q: How long does completion take?

A: It typically takes a few hours for the completion day process to be finalized, but it can sometimes extend into the afternoon, depending on factors like the housing chain and how quickly the money is transferred.

Q: What should be included in my completion day checklist?

A: Your completion day checklist should include things like confirming completion with your solicitor, making final checks on the property, and ensuring all funds are in place. Also, prepare to pick up the keys from your estate agent and start moving in.

Q: Can exchange and completion happen on the same day?

A: Yes, exchange and completion can happen on the same day, although it’s more common in situations like buying a new build property or when the buyer and seller have mutual agreement to expedite the process.

Q: What does my solicitor do on the day of completion?

A: On the day of completion, your solicitor will handle transferring the money to the seller's solicitor, create completion statements, confirm all final checks, and notify you once everything is complete so you can pick up the keys.

Q: What time can I expect to get the keys on completion day?

A: You can usually pick up the keys by midday, but this can vary. Typically, the estate agent will release the keys to you once the seller’s solicitor confirms that the money has been received.

Q: Can completion be delayed, and what happens if it is?

A: Yes, completion can be delayed due to issues like funds not being transferred on time or problems in the housing chain. If there’s a delay, your solicitor will work to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, but it might mean you'll get the keys a little later than expected.

Q: What's the average timeline for completion day?

A: The average completion timeline typically starts in the morning with the transfer of funds, and by the early afternoon, you should receive confirmation from your solicitor that you can pick up the keys. The whole process usually wraps up by late afternoon.

Q: Why is the completion date important?

A: The completion date is important because it's the day when the legal ownership of the property transfers from the seller to the buyer. It’s the date calculated to the day in the contract and marks the point at which you can officially move into your new home.

Q: What happens on completion day?

A: Completion day is the final step in the home buying process. It's when the ownership of the property officially transfers from the seller to the buyer. The money is transferred, the legal documents are completed, and you get the keys to your new home. It’s a big day!

Q: How long does completion take on the day of completion?

A: The completion process on the day itself can take a few hours. It largely depends on when the money is transferred and when both solicitors confirm completion. Usually, everything wraps up by mid-afternoon, allowing you to pick up the keys and move in.

Q: What is the completion day checklist?

A: Your completion day checklist should include tasks like confirming the completion date with your conveyancing solicitor, ensuring all funds are in place, contacting your estate agent, and doing any final checks of the property. You’ll also want to have a plan for picking up the keys and moving.

Q: Can exchange and completion happen on the same day?

A: Yes, exchange of contracts and completion can happen on the same day, although it's more common to have a gap between the two. When they do take place on the same day, it’s called a "simultaneous exchange and completion."

Q: How are completion statements created?

A: Completion statements are created by your solicitor and detail all the financial transactions related to your property purchase. They include costs like the purchase price, stamp duty, legal fees, and any other expenses, calculated to the day of completion.

Q: What should I do prior to completion day?

A: Prior to completion day, ensure that you have your mortgage funds in place, have signed all necessary documents, and have completed any final checks on the property. It's also a good idea to confirm with your conveyancing solicitor that everything is on track for the big day.

Q: What happens if there are delays on completion day?

A: If there are delays on completion day, it can cause a domino effect in the housing chain. Your solicitor will work to resolve any issues as quickly as possible to ensure the money is transferred and you can get the keys. Keeping communication open with your estate agent and solicitor can help mitigate any potential delays.

Q: When do I get the keys to my new home?

A: You’ll typically get the keys to your new home once your solicitor confirms that the money has been transferred to the seller’s solicitor. Your estate agent will then release the keys, allowing you to begin moving in.

Q: What is the completion day timeline?

A: The completion day timeline usually begins with the solicitors transferring funds and confirming the completion, often in the morning. By early afternoon, everything should be finalised, allowing you to pick up the keys and move into your new home. The entire process will depend on how smoothly the money transfer goes.

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