What is completion day?
Completion day is the final step for both the buyer and seller of a house. It is the day the money is transferred and the buyer receives the keys for their new home. You might be feeling concerned, nervous or excited about completion day – after all, you may have been waiting a long time for your sale or purchase to go through. Keeping calm and being prepared are key!
What actually happens on completion day?
For you, completion day is the day you transfer the money and pick up the keys, but your solicitor or licensed conveyancer is actually confirming the transaction, dealing with paperwork and deeds, and (if you're the seller) signing off mortgage completion statements.
- Prior to completion day the buyer’s solicitor will ensure that all mortgage conditions have been satisfied, and request the money from the lender.
- The seller’s solicitors will request a Redemption Certificate calculated to the day of completion if there’s a mortgage to sell.
- Solicitors/conveyancers on both sides will create completion statements that will set out all payments made and received.
- They’ll also request any outstanding invoices to be paid on completion.
- On completion day both solicitors will undertake final checks, and then the buyer’s solicitor will put the balance of purchase money into the banking system, to transfer it to the seller.
- Once the seller’s solcitors have received the funds they’ll confirm completion with the buyer and release the keys from the estate agent.
- They’ll then ensure any charges are paid, including the seller's estate agent fees. The buyer will be notified of the completion, and they can then move into the property.
When is completion day?
The date of completion day is agreed in advance between the seller and the buyer. Usually completion day is between 7 and 28 days after the exchange of contracts.
It will normally be on a weekday, because the money transfer and confirmation needs to be done by a conveyancing solicitor, and you’ll need to pick the keys up from the estate agent. This works out well for you too, because usually moving midweek can be cheaper than moving at the weekend.
Can you complete and exchange on the same day?
In theory, provided your mortgage lender allows it, you can exchange contracts on the same day as completion. This hugely speeds up the process and eliminates the need to pay a deposit upon exchange of contracts.
However, this puts much more pressure on your conveyancing solicitor and can make forward planning difficult – you may not know until the day whether you’re definitely moving, which can make logistical arrangements very complicated. Most removal companies need to be booked months in advance, and, although they try to be flexible, they will need a solid date. There also won’t be any time to deal with unforeseen complications.
If you would like to exchange and complete on the same day, consider:
- Things are much more likely to go smoothly if you are chain free - so if you’re a first time buyer or you’ve already sold your home. In a housing chain, all it takes is one person to forget to sign a document and all completions will be delayed. You can avoid being in a chain by taking it into account when looking for a property, by purchasing a house where the current owners do not need to buy or by purchasing a new build. You could also consider temporarily moving into rented accommodation or staying with friends/family between sale and purchase.
- If you’re a cash buyer, you eliminate some potential problems with money transference or delays from the mortgage lender. If you’re transferring money through the Clearing House Automated Payment System you could consider sending it to your solicitor a day in advance.
How to make completion day easy: the checklist
- Plan ahead as much as you can – You may not be able to move out until completion day, but you can certainly plan to make sure you vacate your old house quickly. Make sure you’re packed well in advance and check out our packing guide for tips.
- Be contactable – Your conveyancer or estate agent may need to contact you to finalise the selling process so make sure your phone is charged, on full volume, and with you the whole time. You don’t want to be the person holding up the housing chain! Also make sure you have your solicitor’s contact information readily available.
- Make sure you have your funds in order – Ensure the money for the purchase is all in one place and ready to go.
- Be prepared – Keep all relevant paperwork in one place and to hand, in case you need to check anything (you could keep it on a USB).
- Be organised – Confirm the expected timings of the day with everyone else – if they are expecting to move in the afternoon but you’re ready in the morning, you may be stuck waiting!
- For more information about how to prepare in the run up to completion day, have a look at our Moving Home Checklist.