When is completion day?

Buying a property is likely to be the biggest financial purchase you’ll make and completing the purchase on your property is a huge milestone, and a memory you’ll hopefully cherish forever.

Of all the components that make up the sale or purchase of a property, completion day is the most eagerly anticipated date to be met by both the seller and buyer as it represents the handing of keys from one to the other and the legal ‘completion’ of the transaction.

So, what needs to happen for completion on a property to take place?

Before a property transaction can complete, you must first ‘exchange contracts’ on the property. Both the buyer’s and seller’s conveyancers exchange signed contracts (typically confirmed by a phone call) and the buyer’s conveyancer pays the deposit on the property to the seller’s conveyancer.

At this point the agreement of the property sale is legally binding and therefore neither party can back out of the deal without significant financial loss in doing so – at the very least the loss of the deposit paid by the buyer to the seller.

A conveyancer will advise that exchange and completion happen separately. And although there can often be several days between exchange and completion, the time between them can actually be almost immediate, known as ‘simultaneous exchange and completion’. Simultaneous exchange and completions are less common however, and typically completion will be around 7-14 days after exchange of contracts.

One of the main reasons for separating exchange and completion is to avoid any last-minute changes and to allow time for planning and removals by the parties involved, with the absolute confidence that completion will occur on a set date. This is particularly beneficial in chain transactions where several sales and purchases are involved.

Friday has long been known as a common day for people to move home. According to statistics by reallymoving.com during 2019, Friday was unanimously the most popular day of the week to move. In addition, movers tended to favour the last week of the month.

It makes sense that when moving home you would choose a Friday as it allows for you to get settled into your new property over the weekend. However, this mindset is shared by many and it means that conveyancers are most busy on this day and removal companies are more likely to be booked up well in advance on this day. You’re also more exposed to delays if there is an issue with funds being released by mortgage lenders on time.

Therefore, think carefully when setting out an ideal date for completion. When in a chain it’s more challenging to be flexible as most parties are eager to move quickly.

If renting, it’s worth considering having a few days overlap between completion on your property purchase and moving out of your rental accommodation as you can achieve a lot more when the property is empty.

On the day of completion, aside from having everything ready to go, your main focus will be waiting for confirmation from your conveyancer that the funds have been paid from your mortgage lender to the seller and that the seller’s conveyancer has received them and released the keys.

You can then liaise with the seller’s estate agents regarding the collection of keys and moving into your new home. The final step is then for your conveyancer to register ownership with the Land Registry and arrange for any SDLT (Stamp Duty Land Tax) to be paid on the property.

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