Completion day is the final step in the property buying process. So, if you’ve reached this stage, congratulations – most of the hard work is over. However, don’t get too excited – house completion can get rather complicated and there is a lot that can go wrong.
To help make sure this important process runs as smoothly as possible, this guide covers exactly what happens on completion day, including what completion day is, what happens if it’s delayed, the house completion money transfer, what can go wrong on completion day and much more.
So, go ahead and discover what happens on completion day and how to avoid anything going wrong. Hopefully, this completion day guide will answer all your questions about your house completion.
Completion day is the last step in the house buying process, typically occurring between 7 and 28 days after the exchanging of contracts.
It is when the buyer’s solicitor will transfer the funds to purchase the property to the seller’s solicitor or conveyancer. Once the seller has received the funds, the buyer will finally pick up the keys to their new home, the ownership will be transferred from the seller to the buyer, and the seller will move out.
Once you have exchanged contracts, your conveyancer will set a completion date that has previously been agreed by both you and the seller. Usually, completion day takes place on a weekday, so the money can be transferred and confirmed on the same day.
Most people choose to complete on a Friday so that they have the weekend to organise their new house and move all their new home essentials in. However, removals can be more expensive on a Friday due to higher demand. Therefore, it might be more cost-efficient to arrange your house completion for a Monday or Tuesday.
Some home-movers do try to complete and exchange on the same day, but this isn’t always advised as it’s a lot to organise in 24 hours.
Transferring the final funds to the seller’s conveyancer is the main event on completion day and is what all your hard work has been leading up to.
However, before the house completion money transfer can be completed, you will need to ensure you have paid all the conveyancer fees and, if purchasing with a mortgage, that the mortgage funds have been paid.
Once all the necessary payments have been received, the buyer’s conveyancer will transfer the money to the seller’s conveyancer via the CHAPS banking system.
If you fail to transfer the funds on completion day, you will be fined, so it’s very important that you know you’ll have the necessary money to do so. However, if you are unable to action the house completion money transfer because you are in a chain and your buyers also failed to produce the money, they will pay a penalty to you.
A property chain is created when more than one buyer is involved in a transaction. For example, you are in a chain if you are buying from someone and also selling your existing property to someone else.
In a property chain, each house sale is dependent on the other transactions. Typically, a chain consists of around 4 or 5 transactions and this can cause delays to the process if one or more of the buyers experience any unexpected problems.
The chain will usually start with someone who is only buying. For example, if you’re a first time buyer or don’t have a house to sell, you will start off the property chain. The chain will then end with a seller who is only selling their property.
On completion day, the chain of house completions will usually start around 11am. Depending on the chain’s size, it could end at 4pm when the last buyer picks up their keys. Here is a common completion day timeline for someone in a chain:
If you’re not in a chain, then completion day should be more straightforward as you won’t be reliant on other transactions being completed first.
Completion day without a chain should be fairly similar to the timeline for completion day with a chain, but should finish earlier. Usually, house completion without a chain will occur around 11am, assuming all payments have been received by the buyer’s conveyancer, allowing them to transfer the final funds to the seller’s conveyancer in the morning.
Also, given that the seller isn’t purchasing another property, the buyer shouldn’t have to wait as long to move into their new home.
In fact, it is actually possible to exchange contracts and complete on the same day if there is no chain. However, this isn’t really advised.
Completion day for new builds is slightly different. If you’re purchasing a new build home, you won’t be able to agree on a fixed completion date as the conveyancing process for new builds differs compared to older properties.
The main reason your conveyancer may not be able to provide a set completion date is because the house is still being built. If no one knows when exactly the building will be finished, you can be certain on the completion day.
Unfortunately, the period between exchanging contracts and the completion date for new build homes could end up being several months. This largely depends on your circumstances and the property developer you’re dealing with. As soon as the house has finished being built, you can set an official day of completion.
Given how complicated the process of moving house can be, there is a lot that can go wrong in the lead up to completion day which can cause delays.
Firstly, waiting to receive a mortgage offer can lengthen the period between accepting an offer and making it to completion day. Although a buyer might have received a mortgage agreement in principle, a formal mortgage offer needs to be made by the lender before exchange or property completion can take place.
The main reason your mortgage offer might be delayed is if there are any issues with your application. For example, if some of the information you provide is incorrect or if the property is valued at a different price to what has been agreed.
Another reason completion day might be delayed is if the mortgage lender or buyer is late releasing the funds to purchase the house. This delay will usually occur on completion day itself. This can cause serious problems for those who have made additional plans for completion day, such as arranging a removals company, or if they’re in a chain and need to move out of their house so someone else can move in.
If you are worried about experiencing completion day problems, there are a few things you can do to help make the day a success.
The most important thing you can do to make sure completion day runs smoothly is to plan ahead and be prepared. You should try to pack as many of your belongings ahead of completion day, so you’re ready to move out and into your new home as soon as possible.
You should also ensure that all the relevant paperwork is easily accessible and not packed away in a box somewhere. It might even be a good idea to make scans and have a soft copy on your mobile for ease. This means that you can quickly check any details if needed before you move.
During the lead up to and on completion day, you should make sure that you’re easy to contact so that your solicitor or estate agent can get hold of you if they need to confirm any details or ask any questions.
Another problem that can occur on completion day surrounds the house completion money transfer. To avoid any problems with transferring the final funds, you should ensure that the money is in order and ready. If you’re using a combination of your own funds and a mortgage, you should try to get all the money in one place so just a single transaction is required on the day.
Finally, you should make sure that you contact your solicitor on the morning of completion day to make sure everything is on track for the house sale completion. It is a good idea to double check expected timings with all relevant parties, including when you need to move out of your property and the time you should expect to pick up the keys to move into your new home.
Congratulations! If you’ve made it to completion day then you’ve finished the entire house buying process. Now, you can sit back, relax and settle into your new home.
Hopefully, this guide to what happens on completion day has covered everything you need to know to ensure your property completion runs smoothly.
Find out more first time buyers guides here.
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