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What Happens on Completion Day?

Posted: 12th December 2023

A property buyer and seller shaking hands on Completion Day

If you’re buying or selling a property, you need to know what happens on completion day and what factors can hinder or delay it. Although it’s often exciting, moving house is still considered one of the most stressful things you can do, so at this late stage of the process, you’ll want completion day to run smoothly.

In this guide, we’re here to discuss what completion day is, when it usually occurs, and what it entails.

What Happens on Completion Day?

Completion day is the final step buyers and sellers must take in the conveyancing process. What happens on completion day for a seller and buyer is relatively straightforward:

  • The buyer’s conveyancer or solicitor will transfer the funds to buy the property to the seller’s solicitor. 
  • Once the seller’s solicitor has received the property funds in question, the seller or the estate agent will hand over the keys to the property, allowing the buyer to move in. 

The key pick-up time will depend on when the funds have been transferred, although it is typically noted as 1pm under the Contract. Completion day occurs on a weekday, ensuring the money can be moved and confirmed all in one day.

What needs to happen before completion day?

A few considerations need to be addressed before completion day can take place. This includes the contractual agreements, in which the buyer and seller sign an agreement which underscores the terms and conditions of the property sale.

The buyer may also secure the right financing, such as a mortgage, carry out a home inspection, secure homeowners’ insurance, and address the title search and insurance. 

Both parties should also settle the closing costs and finalise any legal and financial documents before completion day.

Completion day timeline

This timeline will give you an idea of what needs to be achieved before, during and after completion day. Remember that specific timings can vary due to individual circumstances, transaction complexity and local regulations.

Weeks to months before completion day:

  • Draft Contracts
  • Financing approval
  • Home inspection
  • Title search and insurance
  • Satisfying buyer enquiries
  • Sign legal documents in readiness
  • Closing costs and funds preparation

One to two weeks before completion day:

  • Final walkthrough

Several days before completion day:

  • Completion statement
  • Transfer of deposit and purchase monies from the buyer to their solicitor
  • Aim to Exchange Contracts in advance, to legally bind parties to a specific date

Completion day:

  • Exchange of Contracts (where not already done)
  • Transfer of funds
  • Handover of keys
  • Date the signed legal documents

Post-completion day:

  • Post-closing tasks, such as updating addresses
  • Submitting application for registration (to change the Deeds)

What factors can impact the completion day timeline?

Unfortunately, delays can stop completion day from going ahead as planned. Here are some factors that could trigger these delays:

  • Issues with funds

Fund transfer issues can occur on completion day when they are transferred from the mortgage provider to different parties or should the banking facilities go down. If the mortgage provider or the buyer is late in transferring the money to the solicitor, the completion day may be delayed.

  • Missing the bank deadline

Funds need to be transferred to a seller’s solicitor by a specific time, usually by 3pm. If the money doesn’t get transferred by this time, the transaction must wait until the next working day to go through.

  • Chain buying

If a buyer and seller are in a chain, they may be subject to delays by having to wait for a different property deal to be finalised. For example, a buyer may rely on their previous property to be sold to be able to afford the new property sale.

What steps can be taken to ensure the completion day is a success?

While some delays are out of buyer and sellers’ control, there are some steps you can take to ensure the completion day goes ahead as smoothly as possible.

  • Prepare for moving day

Once you have a finalised your completion date, you should prepare for moving day as best as possible. This involves organising a clear-out and packing up your possessions, and communicating with the removal company and seller to ensure everybody arrives as planned at a coordinated time. You should only make pay any deposit monies or hand in any Notices once matters have Exchanged, at which point the completion date will be set in stone.

  • Prepare your paperwork and funds

Ensure all your funds for the property purchase are ready to be transferred from one account to another and that all paperwork is at hand, just in case any party needs to check over them.

  • Keep in contact with your conveyancing solicitor

Communicate regularly with your conveyancing solicitor and be readily contactable to address any problems if they crop up.

What happens on completion day for a new build property?

When purchasing a new build, a fixed completion day is not usually possible if the property is still under construction, which can cause delays. In any residential property purchase, there is typically a period of time between the exchange of contracts and the finalised completion day; this period can be extended to months when purchasing a new build property.

How Newtons Can Help

We know that buying and purchasing property can be a little stressful. Our residential property team is well-practised in guiding clients through residential conveyancing and helping them arrive at their completion day smoothly. 

Our solicitors are here to assist you in this process, offering you plenty of top legal tips on moving house. Please contact us for more information today.