Buying a House > Completion Day

The home-buying process is long, arduous and stressful. So many things can go wrong during the process, so you always need to stay aware and alert, including on completion day.

Completion day may feel like the finish line, but you’re not quite there yet. If you think of the home-buying process as a race, completion day is the final hurdle. Yes, you’re nearly there, but you’ve still got to jump over the last barrier and arch your neck over the finish line.

It may be tempting to crack open the bubbly, get the party rings ready and load up your celebratory playlist once the big day rolls around, but you should keep the champers on ice and the party rings in their packet until you’ve unlocked your new front door and stepped into your new home.

 

What is Completion Day?

Completion day is the final step for both the seller and the buyer. It’s the day the money is exchanged, and the buyer gets their keys. Completion day is a nerve-wracking time. It’s the end of the road and it can be easy to feel overawed by it all. Whatever happens on completion day, you need to stay calm and be prepared.

For the buyer and the seller, completion day is a relatively simple (yet stressful) 24 hours. It’s the day that the money is transferred and keys are exchanged. However, for the solicitor or conveyancer, completion day is a busy and hectic day. The professionals will take care of confirming the transaction, dealing with the extensive paperwork and signing off the mortgage completion statements.

 

What happens in the run-up to Completion Day?

A lot will have happened before you reach completion day, and you will no doubt be relieved to have finally reached this stage of the process. Before the day of completion, the solicitor acting on the behalf of the buyer will have ensured that all the necessary mortgage conditions have been satisfied and will have requested the fund from the mortgage provider.

On the seller’s side, if there is a mortgage to sell, the solicitor will have requested a Redemption Certificate to be calculated on the day of completion.

The solicitors on both sides will create completion statements that will set out the terms of the agreement and all payments that will be made and received. They will also request that all outstanding invoices are paid on completion of the purchase.

 

What happens on Completion Day?

One the day of completion, the solicitors acting on behalf of both parties will be in contact to confirm that payment has been received and that the keys have been exchanged.

The buyer’s solicitor will prepare the transaction by putting the money into the banking system and requesting that the funds be transferred into the seller’s account. Once the payment is confirmed by the seller’s solicitor, they will confirm the completion of the purchase with the buyer’s party and release the keys from the estate agent.

The selling party will then confirm that all charges have been paid, including the agency fees, and the buyer will then be notified of the completion and they can then pick up the keys to the property and move in. This is the moment you can (finally!) crack open the champers.

 

When is Completion Day?

While both parties will want the purchase to go through as quickly as possible, patience is key when it comes to completing the purchase. Completion day tends to be agreed in advance by both parties to speed up the process and give each other a set deadline to tie up all loose ends.

The date of completion tends to be between seven and 28 days after the exchange of contracts. It will usually be on a weekday as the transfer needs to be done by a conveyancing solicitor and the keys need to be picked up from the estate agent office. While this may mean you lose out on a day of annual leave, it’s cheaper to move in the week than on the weekend, so it does work in your favour.

 

Can I complete the purchase when contracts are exchanged?

As mentioned, both parties will want the completion of the purchase to happen as quickly as possible, and there are some circumstances that will allow for this.

Provided that your mortgage lender allows it, it is possible to exchange contracts on the same day as the completion of the purchase. This, undoubtedly, speeds up the process of buying the property and eliminates the need to pay a deposit upon the exchange of contracts, but there are also some things to be aware of.

 

Disadvantages of completing and exchanging contracts on the same day

Competing for the purchase on the day of the contract exchange puts a lot of pressure on your conveyancing solicitor, which can detriment the extent of your planning.

You may not find out until the day if you’re going to move into the property, as you may be gazumped or the seller may pull out of the agreement at the last minute. This uncertainty means that logistical arrangements can be tricky to organise, with most removal companies needing to be booked months in advance. While they can be flexible, removal companies do usually ask for a solid date to put into their diaries.

This method of purchasing also means that you won’t have time to deal with any unforeseen complications that may arise during the period between the exchange of contracts and the completion date.

 

How to exchange contracts and complete on the same day

If you want to push for the contract exchange and completion date to be on the same day, there are a few things you consider before doing this.

  • A lot of property purchases are part of a chain, so if you want to complete the purchase on the day of the exchange, look for a chain-free property. These properties could either be new builds or be from a seller who isn’t relying on buying another property to sell their own. If you are in a chain, there could be several properties needing to be bought and sold before you can purchase yours, which can lead to multiple complications. All it takes is for someone to pull out of a deal, forget to sign a document or find a potential issue with their purchase for yours to be delayed or cancelled. If you’re keen to get moved-in quickly, consider the type of property your purchasing and whether you have temporary accommodation that you can stay in if something does go wrong.

 

  • Although it’s a rare occurrence, being a cash buyer will help speed up the process of buying a property. Buying a house with cash eliminates any problems relating to transferring of funds and mortgages. If you’re using Clearing House Automated Payment System to transfer your money, consider sending the funds to your solicitor a day in advance to speed up the process.

 

How to have a stress-free Completion Day

To make sure that your completion date goes as smoothly as possible, you need to plan as much as you feasibly can. Just because you’re not able to move out before the completion day, that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare. Pack your belongings away well in advance and be ready to move a the drop of a hat.

You should also be contactable in the weeks and days before the completion date. Your solicitor or estate agent may need to contact you during the process, so keep your phone on loud (even when you go to bed) and have it on you at all times. As mentioned, a lot of properties come as part of a housing chain, so you don’t want to be the person holding yourself, and everyone else, up.

It may sound obvious, but you need to have the funds ready to go before the completion date. Make sure you know where the money is and the process required to release it. Your money should be in one place and be ready to go.

It’s important to be prepared and be organised on the day of completion. You should have all the relevant paperwork ready and easily accessible in an instant. Either carry the documents on you at all times or store them all on a memory stick that you can keep on your house keys.

With the completion date involving the buyer, the seller and the estate agent, you need to be organised on the day completion and confirm the timings of the day with everyone involved. All the relevant people need to be kept in the loop and aware of exactly what is going to happen on the day. As the old saying goes, those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

So, now you know how to prepare for a successful completion day, it’s time to talk about what can go wrong.

 

What can go wrong on Completion Day?

With a lot of people performing numerous different tasks, there are various hazards and stumbling blocks that can lead to a stressful and unsuccessful completion day.

Your mortgage provider will need to send the money from themselves to your solicitor, who will then need to transfer it to the seller’s party. While these transfers are usually quick to carry out,  if the money hasn’t been transferred by 3 pm, you will have to wait until the next working day for the process to be completed.

If you’re in a chain, one of the deals in the chain might fall through, bringing your purchase to an abrupt halt. Whether it’s not having the funds to pay stamp duty, or not being aware of the multiple costs involved in purchasing a home, there’s a multitude of reasons a deal can fall through and impact all others in the chain.

There’s also the danger of human error. While there’s no doubt that your solicitor is a professional who is more than able to carry out the task at hand, mistakes do happen. Make sure that you regularly check-up with your solicitor to make your presence felt and keep them focused on the completion of purchase.

Lastly, if you fail to pay the monies owed, you will be fined, However, if you fail to pay due to a buyer failing to pay you for the home that you’re selling, they will pay a penalty to you, so you shouldn’t lose out on money.

 

Completion day feels like the end of the road, but there’s still a lot that needs to be done. You mustn’t get complacent and believe that the deal is done before you get the keys. Stay alert, be organised and be ready to show any necessary paperwork required on the day.

The home buying process is stressful for all parties involved, so never be afraid to make your requests known and put pressure on your solicitor to give you answers and an update. As a buyer, you’re parting ways with a lot of money and will have put a lot of time and effort into the purchase, so you need to be aware of what the process involves and where you are on the journey.

Once the completion day is over, you’ve made it. Get your keys, invite your friends and family over and enjoy your new home!