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10 things to do to get from exchange to completion

The final big milestone in buying a house is completion day, the day you get your keys to your new home! But there are steps you need to take before you get there.

10 things to do to get from exchange to completion
Written by property expert Kate Faulkner

Once you have exchanged house contracts and are legally committed to buying a property, you move onto to completion. This is the day money is transferred and you get your new keys. The time between these two milestones is usually 1-2 weeks, but it can take up to a few months. For some it is shorter and it might even be possible to exchange and complete on the same day.

The time between exchange and completion can be quite hectic, so if you can take some time off, it can be really helpful. Another big help and time saver between exchange and completion is using professional moving services, especially if they will pack for you and your items will be insured during the moving process. This allows you to focus on moving into your new home and all the jobs you will have to do in between.

To help you track how things are going, here are the 10 key steps that need to happen after exchange before you to reach completion day:

1 - Confirm date and timings with the removal company

As soon as you have exchanged, do get onto the phone to confirm timings with your chosen removal company, friends, family or 'man with a van'.

2 - Agree a time for the sellers to move out and for you to move in

Surprisingly this doesn’t often happen and it really should. Ask your legal company if there is a time the seller is committed to move out of the property and what happens if they don’t. Usually it’s 1pm.

However, if the sellers are moving themselves they are likely to underestimate how much stuff they have to move and how many trips it requires. They will need to have packed most of their belongings the night before and will only have time to load a van or two in the morning, so it’s worth checking how they are moving and by when.

In this case, it might be worth making sure you have somewhere overnight you can stay as a contingency, just in case.

3 - Who will clean?

As well as checking the seller’s plans to move out of the property, it is also worth checking whether they are planning to clean the property before they leave or not. Some might have a professional cleaner going in, some might not intend to do anything, and some may have the best of intentions, but run out of time. There also may be a long gap in between the sellers moving out and you moving in, allowing dust and dirt to build up even if they did clean before they left.

Find out whether you will need to plan in time to clean the property before all of your belongings can be moved in.

4 - Eat all that you can! Especially from your fridge and freezer

It’s a good idea to try and eat as much as you can so there is less to take with you, especially any perishable foods or ones that could spill and cause a mess when moving home.

5 - Pack and label your belongings

When you are packing everything you own, it’s worth trying to do this in some sort of order. Things to think about are:

  • Making sure fragile items are carefully packed and lots of boxes aren’t piled on top of them
  • Each box is clearly labelled with what’s in it and where it’s going in the new home
  • You have labels which can quickly be put on each room of the new home

Read our ultimate guide to packing or find packing boxes.

Ideally, if you are packing yourself, have everything ready to put in the van or for the removal company the night before, bar the essentials. Packing and loading a car or van will always take you a lot longer than you think!

6 - Leave out ‘moving day essentials’

While packing, it’s worth keeping a couple of boxes out of essentials you will need for moving day such as contact details, kettle and mugs for hot drinks, water and snacks, cleaning equipment etc.

Make yourself a moving day survival kit so you have exactly what you'll need to get through completion day.

7 - Change of address

It can take up to 10 days to set up redirection of your post, so make sure this is one of the earlier jobs you do as well as sending out change of address notifications.

You can use our free change of address checklist to help, or sign up to iammoving who can do it for you.

8 - Transfer your mortgage

Ideally the conveyancing company will do this the day before you move, but do check with them when they are planning to access the funds. If it’s on the same day as your move, this could mean it’s worth having a contingency plan in case there are problems with the transfer.

First time buyers will be the first property ‘deal’ to go through, so it’s less likely to be a problem than for someone further down the chain.  

9 - Organise your Help to Buy or Lifetime ISA top up deposit

As well as transferring your mortgage and securing any other money you will need to pay (for example from savings, gift from friends/family), the conveyancing company should also secure the top up deposit from your ISA. It’s likely they will have secured this at exchange, but do double check to make sure they have the information in plenty of time.

10 - Check the utility readings

It’s vital to take a picture of the utility readings in both your old and new home, so you have proof of how much you'll need to pay.

Once you've accomplished all these task you will be ready for completion day. The final thing that seems silly to even remind you of - check when you're getting the keys, and who from!

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