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What happens on completion day?

Completion is the final step in buying your home. You're busy loading up the removals van, but if things don't go according to plan you still might not be home and dry. So make sure you know what happens on completion day, what to expect and how to plan for the day to help things run as smoothly as possible.

completion day

What is completion day?

This is the final step for both the buyer and seller of the house.  Completion day is the day the money is transferred, the buyer gets the keys and can start moving into their new home. Use our moving house checklist to start planning for moving day.

What happens on completion day?

On completion day, your conveyancing solicitor confirms the transaction, deals with paperwork and deeds, and (if you’re the seller) signs off mortgage completion statements.

  • Prior to completion the buyer’s conveyancing solicitor will check all mortgage conditions have been met, and request the money from the lender.
  • The seller’s solicitors will request a Redemption Certificate (calculated to the day of completion) if there’s a mortgage on the seller’s property.
  • Conveyancing solicitors on each side create completion statements of all payments made and received and set out any invoices to be paid on completion.
  • On completion day both solicitors make final checks, and then the buyer’s solicitor will transfer the purchase money via the banking system to the seller.
  • Once the seller’s solcitor has received the funds they’ll confirm completion with the buyer and release the keys from the estate agent. They also ensure any charges are paid, including the seller’s estate agent fees.
  • The buyer will be notified of the completion, and they can then move into the property.

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What can go wrong?

Sometimes problems with the transfer of funds can arise on completion day. This can occur when money is being passed from your mortgage provider (if you’re using one) to your solicitors and then on to the buyer’s solicitors. If the money transfer doesn’t go through by 3pm, you’ll have to wait until the next working day.

Being in a chain of buyers and sellers can also pose issues. If any of the chain falls through or is delayed, the whole process can come grinding to a halt.

How to make completion day run smoothly

Plan ahead for moving day.  Once you know your date of completion, line up your removals company and organise clearing out and packing up of your belongings.  Make sure you are all packed up ahead of moving day.  It’s a good idea to confirm expected timings with the seller and the removals company so everyone arrives at the right time and no one is left waiting.

Communicate regularly with your conveyancing solicitor. Your conveyancing solicitor should have their full attention on your transaction and will be working to complete as quickly as possible. But it is a good idea to be in regular contact and to be contactable so that if issues arise, you can work to resolve them.

Have your funds & paperwork in order. Ensure you have all your paperwork to hand in case you need to check anything and all the funds for the purchase in one account and ready to go.

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If I fail to come up with the money will I be fined?

If you fail to transfer the funds on completion day, you will be fined. However, if you have failed to pay because your buyers also failed to come up with the money, they will pay a penalty to you, so hopefully you won’t lose out.

Who decides when completion day happens?

The vendor and buyer should get the chance to agree the date of completion in advance. Completion day traditionally has to be on a working weekday, to enable the money transfers through the bank and so your solicitor is available.  You can plan your move once your date is set. Check out what to expect in terms of removals costs and see how to find the right removals company.

Can I exchange and complete on the same day?

It’s standard practice for completion to happen seven to 28 days after exchanging contracts.

But exchanging and completing on the same day is possible, increasingly common, and has certain advantages. Completing on the same day as you exchange contracts speeds up the conveyancing process, and means you don’t have to pay a deposit on exchange of contracts. However, there are downsides. It is incredibly stressful, and you don’t definitely know that you are moving until the day that you move, which makes arranging removals and forwarding post more complex. If anything does go wrong, you don’t have any time to put things right. You will need to have your house packed up with the removals men ready, while you are waiting to hear that contracts are being exchanged.

If you are keen to go for exchange and completion on the same day, the things to consider are:

  • It is much less risky if you and the seller are chain-free, so there is no one else to mess things up.
  • It is easier if you are a cash purchaser, so you don’t have to worry about transferring money from the mortgage lender.
  • Some mortgage lenders are happy with exchanging and completing on the same day, but others require a minimum period (such as five working days) between.
  • You and the mortgage lender should transfer the funds to your solicitor the day before, to ensure there are no money transmission problems.
  • You are making yourself more vulnerable to an unscrupulous seller demanding something extra at the last moment, as you will be all packed up and ready to go, and not really in a position to negotiate.

How do I get the keys? 

Once the seller’s solcitor has received the funds they’ll confirm completion with the buyer and release the keys. The keys can be picked up from the estate agent or directly from the buyer.

What documents should I keep after completion

See our checklist of documents to keep after completion that you should have from your conveyancing solicitor and that are helpful to collect from the previous owner as you move into your new home or that you can leave behind for the new owners if you are completing the sale of your property.

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