What Happens on Completion Day?

Martha Lott
Written by Martha Lott
24th October 2018 (Last updated on Monday 14th October 2019)

The day of completion is when all of the financial and legal work that comes with selling or buying a house is finally completed by your licensed conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor and ownership of the property is transferred. 

Completion day is also the day you can begin the moving process with the help of your removal company. However, there are two main things you need to consider to ensure a smooth process on your completion date.

Firstly, 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.

Secondly, if you’re the seller, you must move out of the property. The day of completion is the day in which your property legally changes ownership so you will need to vacate the property by the pre-agreed time in your contract.

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.

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This article will cover the following points

What is Completion Day? What Happens on Completion Day? Transferring Money on Completion Day What Happens on Completion Day in a Chain? What Happens on Completion Day With No Chain? Can I Exchange Contracts and Complete on the Same Day? Completion Day for New Builds What Can Go Wrong on Completion Day? How to Avoid Completion Day Problems How Can Hiring a Conveyancer Help? 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 and typically occurs between 7-28 days after the exchanging of contracts. 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.

As a seller, you will need to have moved out of the property by now. 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 delayed the process. 

Monday or Tuesday are typically 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 as, 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.

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What Happens on Completion Day?

The completion date would have been agreed on previously 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 for the conveyancing disbursements like estate agent fees and you will have to pay your conveyancer fees.

Once this has all been paid on your behalf, the buyer's conveyancer will transfer the seller the final funds. This will be done via the CHAPS banking system.

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, with each one being 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, so 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 commonly 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 and 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, with each one being dependent on the other transactions. The timings on completion day will depend on whether or not 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 is 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 as 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 for completion 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 and 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, depending 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 issues that may arise and cause delays in the process on completion day. These could include:

1. Lack of Money - One primary 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.

2. 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 as this is usually the time the CHAP's banking system closes for the day. To avoid this, most conveyancers set the deadline for around 3:30pm. 

3. Delay in Chain - Proceedings may also be delayed if you’re in a chain of buyers and sellers. It takes just 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.

4. 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 if these fees are unpaid.

5. Gazundering - If you're in a property chain, a buyer can reduce their offer on the house just before exchanging contracts which could then further delay the process. 

6. 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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 and 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 overall 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 as well as 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 so that the transaction can proceed.

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 fully qualified and experienced, they will have the right answers and will be able to handle any delays that threaten the completion of the whole 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 4 verified conveyancers to get instant conveyancing quotes.  

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. Everything you need for a successful completion day is all here in one convenient website at Compare My Move.