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What Happens on Completion Day?

Katie Cullen
Written by Katie Cullen
12th January 2017 (Last updated on Wednesday 15th August 2018)

All of the financial and legal work that comes with selling your property on the day of completion will be fulfilled by your solicitor. However, there are two principal things you need to do on the day of completion:

  • Keep in contact with your solicitor – Your role will be to liaise with your solicitor and act as a mediator between parties to ensure everything goes to plan. To ensure nothing goes wrong, it is your responsibility to know what’s happening throughout the day.
  • Move out – The day of completion is the day in which your property legally changes ownership to the buyer. You will need to vacate the property by the pre-agreed time in your contract.

This article will cover the following points

What is the Day of Completion? What Will My Solicitor do on the Day? What Can Go Wrong? How to Ensure a Successful Day of Completion What Happens if the Buyer Can’t Come Up with the Finances? Can I Exchange Contracts and Complete on the Same Day Dropping Off the Keys

What is the Day of Completion?

The day of completion is the final step of selling a house and is the day that money is transferred. This date will have already been selected and confirmed by yourself and the buyer.

You will need to move out of the property by the time of completion, which is traditionally 12pm on a weekday, but can change depending on your, or the buyer’s, specifications.

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What Will My Solicitor do on the Day?

Your solicitor will look after the main bulk of responsibilities, which includes:

  • Liaising with the buyer’s solicitor
  • Accepting funds and processing the final amount to your account
  • Paying off outstanding bills and invoices from the move
  • Completing a transfer form which changes the ownership information on the land registry
  • Contact estate agents to release keys to the buyer once you have vacated the property.

What Can Go Wrong?

There can sometimes be various issues that may arise on the buyer’s side which could delay the day of completion. One primary complication is when the buyer’s finances are being sent from their mortgage provider, to their solicitor, and then to your solicitor. If money is not in your solicitors account by 3pm, you will have to wait until the next day for everything to go through.

Proceedings may also be delayed if you are in a chain of buyers and sellers – one link in the chain can cause the day of completion to come to a halt for everyone involved, so it’s not just the buyer or yourself that can affect moving day.

How to Ensure a Successful Day of Completion

Call and talk to your solicitor on the morning of the day of completion. Although your solicitor will know what she/he is doing, they can make mistakes, so it is important to keep on top of proceedings and ensure everything will be running to schedule.

Again, call your solicitor mid-morning to midday so you know exactly where things stand.

Most of what happens on the day is out of your hands, but it is good to act as a mediator. It is useful to:

  • Keep on top of things – You should know exactly what is happening throughout the day, as well as the times they are happening.
  • Talk to your solicitor – Good contact is key to a successful move and day of completion. It goes hand in hand with keeping on top of things and is crucial in case anything does go wrong.
  • Be easily contactable – Similar to the other point, it is vital that you remain contactable throughout the process. It is extremely common that your solicitor or estate agent will need to contact you in regards to finalising the selling process.
  • Vacate the Property Quickly – If you were able to plan ahead, you may have already moved out of the property. However, that is not always possible, especially if you are in a chain. Have a moving van ready from to get your belongings on the road to your new place.
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What Happens if the Buyer Can’t Come Up with the Finances?

The buyer is legally obligated to buy your property as soon as you exchange contracts. Likewise, you are obligated to sell the property. If the buyer chooses to back out of the sale, you will get the keep their deposit (usually 10% of the property price), and be liable to sue if you choose.

The buyer will be fined if they have the finances but cannot fulfil their payments on the day of completion. This does not mean the sale falls through, it just means that your moving process is waylaid.

Can I Exchange Contracts and Complete on the Same Day

Technically, yes. However, this can be a lot riskier than the traditional approach. This is because:

  • You do not know if you are actually moving until the actual day
  • Doing so is a lot more stressful than having a waiting period
  • Some mortgage providers will not like it – many ask for a waiting period of at least five days
  • Things can go wrong along the way
  • No-one is contractually obliged to by the property until the date of completion.

That said, doing so significantly speeds up the selling process. Exchanging contracts on the same day as completing the sale is usually good if:

  • You have already moved out of the property
  • You are dealing with a cash buyer who doesn’t rely on mortgage providers.

Dropping Off the Keys

Where to leave your keys will depend on the requirements of your estate agent. Some agents will be happy enough with you leaving your sets at the property (if they already have a set of keys to give to the new owners). Other agents will require you to drop keys off at their branch, which can be done in transit to your new location.