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What Happens on Completion Day?

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29th Nov 2019 (Last updated on 2nd Apr 2020) 13 minute read

Completion day is when the buyer will pick up the keys for their new house. The ownership will be transferred from the seller to the buyer, and the seller must move out. The buyer can start to move house on completion day with the help of a removal company

For a smooth completion day, you must keep in contact with your conveyancer. Your role will be to liaise with your conveyancer and act as a mediator between parties to ensure everything goes to plan. It’s your responsibility to know what’s happening throughout the day to help make it as smooth as possible.

Compare My Move has created this guide to help you understand everything you need to know about what happens on completion day. From what it means to how to ensure a successful outcome, we cover it all to help you as much as possible during this chaotic time.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What is Completion Day?
  2. Completion and Moving Date
  3. Can you Complete on a Saturday?
  4. What Happens on Completion Day?
  5. Transferring Money on Completion Day
  6. What Happens on Completion Day in a Chain?
  7. What Happens on Completion Day With No Chain?
  8. Can I Exchange Contracts and Complete on the Same Day?
  9. Completion Day for New Builds
  10. What Can Go Wrong on Completion Day?
  11. How to Avoid Completion Day Problems
  12. How Can Hiring a Conveyancer Help?
  13. Save on Your Conveyancing Costs

What is Completion Day?

Completion day is the final step in the conveyancing process for both buying and selling a property. It typically occurs between 7-28 days after the exchanging of contracts. But what actually happens on the day of completion? Well, firstly, the buyer’s conveyancer will transfer the final funds to the seller’s conveyancer, completing the sale. The buyer will then receive the keys to their new house, finally being able to move in. Completion day is when your removal company will arrive and you can begin moving house.

For the completion day of a house sale, the seller will need to have moved out of the property. The traditional time to move out by is usually 12pm on a weekday, but this can change depending on how big the property chain is, if there's any requirements from the buyer or seller and if there's any issues that have delaying the process. 

Monday or Tuesday are the preferred days to complete as issues can be resolved at the beginning of the week. Friday may be a popular choice with movers but it's often thought of as one to avoid. If any problems were to arise, you’d have to wait until the following Monday to resolve them as the CHAPS (Clearing House Automated Payment System) banking system is closed on weekends.

Completion and Moving Date

Completion date is the day the seller will receive the final transaction and the buyer will receive the keys to begin moving house. Although it's possible to complete and move house on the same day if you're just purchasing a house, it doesn't always work out that way. 

As a seller, you must move out on the completion day of your house sale. But as a buyer you can move in to the house whenever you're ready after completion day.

If the transaction is part of a property chain, you'll have to wait until the seller also has their completion day. They must leave the property before you can physically begin moving in. However, generally, the completion date marks the day in which the ownership of the property is exchanged and so you should be able to begin moving in. 

Can you Complete on a Saturday?

A completion date cannot be scheduled for a Saturday or Sunday as most banks and solicitors are closed. You may move house on Saturday and Sunday if you've completed on a week day, but legal completion will happen once the seller receives the final funds. 

If you're purchasing and selling a house, you must choose a weekday for completion. The same goes if you are just selling too. 

The most popular day to complete on a house is Friday, according to research by the TwentyCi Property & Homemover 2018 Report. Friday is also the most popular day to move house, which was revealed in Compare My Move's 2019 data.

What Happens on Completion Day?

The completion date would have been previously agreed on between the buyer, the buyer's conveyancer, the seller and the seller's conveyancer. To help you prepare, here's a basic breakdown of what will happen on completion day:

  1. For the buyer to become the new registered owner of the house, the transfer deed and documents must be signed by the seller.
  2. Regular contact will be kept between both conveyancing sides throughout the day.
  3. The buyer's conveyancer will pay off any outstanding bills and invoices from the move.
  4. Your conveyancer will be responsible for transferring the final funds from the buyer to the seller.
  5. The buyer's conveyancer will complete a transfer form which will change the ownership information with Land Registry.
  6. The buyer's conveyancer will contact the estate agent to release the keys to the buyer once the seller has left the property.
  7. Both the buyer and seller should have booked their removal companies in advance as soon as the completion date is agreed upon. Make sure you're in constant communication with the removal company to avoid any delay charges.

Transferring Money on Completion Day

Transferring the final funds to the seller will be the main event on completion day. However, before the money can be transferred, your conveyancer will have to complete the necessary payments. This includes the conveyancing disbursements like estate agent fees. You will also have to pay your conveyancer fees.

Once this has all been paid, the buyer's conveyancer will transfer the seller the final funds. This will be done via the CHAPS banking system. Don't forget to compare conveyancing quotes to find the most trusted verified conveyencers, saving you both time and money. 

What Happens on Completion Day in a Chain?

A property chain refers to the number of house purchases that are linked together in a chain. Each one is dependent on the other transactions. A chain is usually made up of around 4 or 5 transactions. The completion day timeline will depend on how many people are in the property chain and if any unexpected problems arise. 

The completion process will usually start with someone who is only buying. If you’re a first-time buyer or don’t have a house to sell, then the chain will start with you. The chain will then end with a seller who is only selling a property.

The chain will usually start around 9am. Depending on the chain’s size, it will usually end at 1pm when the last buyer picks up their keys. Those who find themselves first or last in the chain will usually have less responsibility. This mean they won't have to worry as much about another transaction delaying the process. Below, we’ve provided a quick example of a common completion day timeline for someone in a property chain.

Completion Day Timeline:

  • 9am - The first buyer in the chain, usually a first-time buyer living with their family, will collect their keys.
  • 11am - Next, the second buyer will collect their keys. They will usually already have a flat or apartment and are the second home mover.
  • 12pm - The third buyer will then collect their keys. They will have a house to sell and a house to buy. 
  • 1pm - The final person in the chain will complete their process. They won't be buying a house, just selling, thus ending the property chain.

The completion deadline will often be before 5:30pm as this is the time the CHAPS banking system will close. However, many conveyancers will aim to complete everything earlier (around 3:30pm) to provide you with extra time if any delays should occur.

You should use a moving house checklist to make sure you know the moving house process timeline.

What Happens on Completion Day With No Chain?

A ‘property chain’ refers to the number of house purchases that are linked together in a chain. Each one being dependent on the other transactions. The timings on completion day will depend on whether you’re in a property chain.

If you’re not in a chain for your current transaction, then completion day should proceed rather smoothly and much more quickly. As you won’t be relying on other transactions being completed first, you have less chances of delays occurring. 

If you’re not in a property chain, the timeline will be similar to the original one above, but will finish a lot earlier. It will still usually begin around 9am, with the buyer receiving the keys to their new property. As the seller is not buying another house, the buyer does not have to wait as long to move in. As there is less to work out, the starting time could be later to suit both parties. 

Even though it’s not always advised, it’s even possible to exchange contracts and complete on the same day as it’s less risky when there’s no chain. This will lengthen the process on the completion day but is still possible to do. We cover this in more detail in the section below.

Can I Exchange Contracts and Complete on the Same Day?

Completion typically happens between 7-28 days after the exchange of contracts. However, it's possible to exchange and complete on the same day, but it’s not suitable for most buyers.

Generally, it’s not advised to exchange contracts and complete on the same day. You’ll be attempting too many tasks at once and, if anything was to go wrong, it could have a knock-on effect. This will delay the whole process for everyone involved.

However, doing so significantly speeds up the selling process and can benefit some people. We've provided examples of when and when not to exchange contracts and complete on the same day to help you determine the best course of action for you.

When to Exchange and Complete On the Same Day:

  • You have already moved out of the property or are able to move in on that same day.
  • You are dealing with a cash buyer who doesn’t rely on mortgage providers.
  • You are not in a chain so you have sorted out a removal company and other aspects in advance.

When Not to Exchange and Complete On the Same Day:

  • Your mortgage provider has asked for a waiting period of at least five days.
  • You are in a property chain and are relying on other transactions to be completed first.
  • Some conveyancers will charge extra for completing the same day as exchanging contracts. Discuss this option with your conveyancer before deciding your course of action.

Completion Day for New Builds

If you're buying a new build home, you won't be able to agree on a fixed date as conveyancing for new builds is different compared to older properties. The main reason your conveyancer may not provide a completion date is usually because the house is still being built. This means a completion date can't be certain.

Unfortunately, the period between exchanging contracts and the date of completion for new builds could end up being a few months. It all depends on your circumstances and the conveyancer and property developer you're with. Once the property has been fully-built, the completion date can be determined. 

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What Can Go Wrong on Completion Day?

There can be various problems that may cause delays in the completion process. Some of these completion day problems include:

  • Lack of Money - One complication is when the buyer’s finances are being sent from their mortgage provider to their conveyancer and then onto the seller’s conveyancer. If this isn't done by a certain time, it could affect your transaction and others if you're in a chain.
  • CHAP's Deadline - If the deposit is not in your conveyancer’s account by 5:30pm, you will have to wait until the next day for everything to go through. This is because it's the time the CHAP's banking system closes for the day. To avoid this, most conveyancers set the deadline for around 3:30pm. 
  • Delay in Chain - Proceedings may also be delayed if you’re in a chain of buyers and sellers. It takes one broken link in the chain to delay completion day for everyone involved, so it’s not just the buyer or seller that can affect moving day.
  • Unpaid Stamp Duty - As a buyer, you will have to pay fees such as stamp duty and VAT to your conveyancer in order to complete on that date. You will not be able to complete your conveyancing fees are unpaid. If you are a first-time buyer, you may be exempt from paying this fee, however. 
  • Gazundering - If you're in a property chain, a buyer can reduce their offer on the house before exchanging contracts, delaying the process. 
  • Gazumping - After your offer has been accepted, the seller could accept a higher offer from a buyer outside of your property chain. This is called gazumping.

How to Avoid Completion Day Problems

Sometimes mistakes are unavoidable, so it’s important to keep on top of proceedings to ensure a successful day of completion. Most of what happens on the day is out of your control, but it’s good to act as a mediator. To ensure a successful completion day, it's important to:

  • Be Organised – You should know exactly what’s happening throughout the day, as well as the decided completion day times. Make sure you're free and keep track of any progress.
  • Talk to Your Conveyancer – Good contact is key to a successful completion day. Schedule a time to call your conveyancer on the morning of the completion day to discuss progress.
  • Be Easily Contactable – It’s vital that you remain contactable throughout the process. It's extremely common for conveyancers and estate agents to contact you in regards to finalising the selling process. Call your conveyancer mid-morning to midday so you know exactly where things stand.
  • Vacate the Property Quickly – If you were able to plan ahead, you may have already moved out of the property. However, if you’re in a chain, this isn't always possible.

How Can Hiring a Conveyancer Help?

Exciting and chaotic, your completion day will often feel rather overwhelming. But your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor will be there to help guide you through the process. 

It’s not recommended to complete the conveyancing process alone as the legal issues involved are thorough, confusing, time consuming and pertinent to the transaction. It’s always wise to seek the help of a professional to ensure that the process is done right. Any issues could later affect the transaction or even your time living in the property.

During completion day, your conveyancer will take care of any remaining fees that need to be paid. They will also liaison with the other party’s conveyancer to ensure a smooth process. A professional conveyancer will ensure constant communication between all parties and will ensure that all legal work is done correctly.

If there are any issues that need to be raised or any questions you have, your conveyancer will be there to help. If they’re qualified and experienced, they'll have the right answers and will be able to handle any delays that threaten the completion of the process. 

Save on Your Conveyancing Costs

Now that you're fully aware of what happens on completion day, why not save further time, stress and money by comparing regulated licensed conveyancers? Compare My Move will connect you with up to 5 verified conveyancers to get instant conveyancing quotes. Don't forget to try our updated Stamp Duty calculator too.  

If your completion day is coming up and you still haven't sorted out your removal company, then don't panic! Compare My Move can help you connect with reliable removal companies in your local area. Also, look at the average house removal costs so you know what to expect. Everything you need for a successful completion day is all here in one convenient website at Compare My Move.

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.