What Happens on Completion Day?
During the completion day, the property sale is finalised and the buyer can pick up the keys for their new house. Ownership will be transferred from the seller to the buyer, meaning the seller must begin moving out.
For a smooth completion day, you should keep in touch with your chosen conveyancer as much as possible. Your role will be to liaise with your solicitor who will be able to confirm when completion has taken place.
What is the Day of Completion?
Completion day is the final step in the conveyancing process. It means the parties involved are at the end of the property sale and ownership is now being passed onto the buyer. It occurs between 7-28 days after the exchanging of contracts.
The buyer’s conveyancer will transfer the final funds to the seller’s solicitor. Once the payment has been received, completion has legally taken place. The buyer will then receive the keys to their new house.
The seller must move out of the property by the completion date. The target time to move out is usually 12 pm, but this can change depending on how big the property chain is. Alternative times and arrangements can be made if both the buyer and seller agree to them.
Read through our Completion Day Checklist
Can You Complete and Move on Different Days?
The seller must move out by this date. The completion date is the day the seller receives payment for the property, transferring ownership. They must vacate the home to allow the buyer to begin moving in.
If a buyer has no property to sell, they can move into the house either on or after the completion day. If the transaction is part of a property chain, the buyer may have to wait until the seller also has their completion day.
How Does Completion Day Work in a Property Chain?
The completion process will usually start with someone who is only buying. If you’re a first-time buyer, then the property chain will start with you. The chain will end with a seller who is only selling a property.
The buyer's conveyancer will pay the final funds due by same day bank transfer. Once the seller’s conveyancer receives the payment, completion has legally taken place.
The seller's solicitor will contact the buyer's conveyancer to confirm receipt of the funds. They will also contact the estate agent to authorise the release of the keys to the buyer. The conveyancers for both parties should then call their respective clients to confirm completion has taken place.
What Happens on Completion Day With No Chain?
If you’re buying a house with no chain, the completion day should be more straightforward. This is because you won’t be reliant upon other transactions.
Completion will take place around 11 am, assuming all payments have been received by the buyer’s conveyancer. This allows them to transfer the final funds to the seller’s conveyancer on the morning of the completion day.
As the seller is not buying another house, the buyer should not have to wait as long to move in.
Average Completion Day Timeline
11 am - The first buyer in the chain, usually a first-time buyer, completes their purchase transaction.
1 pm - The second buyer (who sold their property to the first buyer) will complete their purchase transaction.
3 pm - The third buyer (who sold their property to the second buyer) will complete their purchase transaction.
4 pm - The final person in the chain (who only has a property to sell) receives payment from the third buyer and completes the sale transaction. This ends the property chain.
The completion deadline will often be before 5:30 pm as this is the time the CHAPS banking system and most conveyancer's offices will close.
Transferring Money on Completion Day
Transferring the final funds to the seller's conveyancer will be the main event on the completion day.
The buyer will first need to ensure they’ve paid all the required funds to their conveyancer. If they are purchasing the home with a mortgage, the mortgage funds must also be paid. These will include the conveyancing disbursements.
Once all payments have been received, the buyer's conveyancer will transfer the final funds. This will be done via the CHAPS banking system.
Can You Exchange and Complete on the Same Day?
It's possible to exchange contracts and complete on the same day, but it’s not suitable for most buyers. Some conveyancers will charge extra for completing the same day as exchanging contracts.
You could be attempting too many tasks at once and delay the process for everyone involved. Two separate dates provide all parties involved with added security.
When to exchange and complete on the same day
- The property you are buying, or selling, is sold with vacant possession.
- The buyer of the property is a cash buyer.
- The buyer does not need to physically move in on the completion day.
- You are not in a chain.
When not to exchange and complete on the same day
- You are in a long property chain.
- You need to move in on the completion day.
- You still need to book a removal company.
Read more on What Happens After Exchange of Contracts
What Can Go Wrong on Completion Day?
1. Delay of Purchase Funds
Most buyers will fund their purchase with a combination of their own funds and a mortgage. It’s best practice for all of the purchase funds to be paid to the buyer’s conveyancer the day before the completion day.
If the buyer or mortgage lender is late in making payment, this can cause a delay to the timeframe.
2. CHAP's Deadline
If the final funds are not in the seller’s conveyancer’s bank account by 4 pm, the completion of the transaction may need to wait until the next working day. This is because it's the time most bank CHAPs systems close.
3. Delay in the Property Chain
If you’re in a chain, it only takes a delay of payment in one link to cause a delay to the whole chain.
How Can Hiring a Conveyancer Help?
It’s not recommended to complete the conveyancing process alone as the legal issues involved are thorough, confusing and pertinent to the transaction. Any issues could later affect the transaction or even your time living in the property.
Your solicitor will coordinate payments and liaison with other contacts. A professional and verified conveyancer will engage through communication with all parties and ensure the legal process is done correctly.
If there are issues that need to be resolved or you have any questions, your conveyancer will be there to help. If they’re qualified and experienced, they should be able to help.
How to Avoid Completion Day Problems
1. Be organised
Make sure any and all paperwork is signed and completed quickly.
2. Schedule early payments
Ensure you've paid any funds due before the completion day.
3. Communicate with your conveyancer
Schedule a time to call your conveyancer on the morning of the day to discuss progress.
4. Be easily contactable
Your conveyancer and the estate agent will need to contact you to conclude the process.
5. Vacate the property quickly
You should aim to be out of the property by 12 pm at the very latest.
Can You Complete on a Saturday?
A completion date cannot be scheduled for a Saturday or Sunday as most banks and solicitors are closed.
The most popular day to complete a house sale is Friday, according to research by the TwentyCi Property & Homemover 2018 Report. Friday is also the most popular day to move house.
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 previously owned properties. The completion date can't always be certain as the home first needs to be built
The period between exchange and completion could end up being a few months. It all depends on your circumstances and the property developer you're dealing with. Once the property has been built, the completion date can then be set.
To learn more, read the new build conveyancing process explained.