What happens between Exchange and Completion?
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Exchange of Contracts is the point at which buyer & seller become legally bound to buy/sell.
The steps between exchange of contracts and completion in your conveyancing journey are the final stages of you buying your property. So, what happens between exchange and completion to the point where you moving into your new home? Here, we take a whistle stop tour of who is doing what, not least those things that YOU need to be doing yourself as the buyer at the heart of all this!
What needs to happen before Exchange of Contracts?
So, lets remind ourselves of what has happened so far. Obviously, your estate agent has marketed the property you are selling (assuming you are), and you have found the new property of your dreams to buy. Between you, you and your solicitor will have conducted the key stages of your conveyancing (on both your sale and purchase), that being:-
- ONBOARDING – your solicitor ID’s you and engages you as a client
- CONTRACT PACK – your solicitor deals with this (you have forms to fill in on your sale)
- SEARCHES – something for your conveyancer!
- SURVEY – this is YOU! You engage your surveyor and you pay their bill directly
- MORTGAGE – again, one for YOU! You will have chosen a lender and received a formal mortgage offer
- ENQUIRIES – this is perhaps the most frustrating part. It is where the solicitors deal with any and all formal questions and queries that have cropped up on searches, in the contract pack, and so on
What if I am in a Chain?
If you are in a chain, EVERY property in that chain needs to have dealt with the above and be ready to exchange as this will normally happen simultaneously up and down the chain on the same day.
When do I pay the Deposit on my Purchase?
You will pay the deposit on exchange of contracts. Sometimes your solicitor can utilise the equity in your sale and money coming up through the chain in deposit meaning you may not have to find the whole deposit in cash on exchange. Speak to your solicitor about this early in your transaction so that you can budget and be ready with whatever cash is needed on exchange of contracts.
How much is the Deposit on Exchange of Contracts?
The deposit paid on exchange of contracts is normally 10% of the purchase price.
How does Exchange of Contracts happen?
The solicitors deal with exchange of contracts by telephone, and then send the completed contracts to each other in the post on the evening of the exchange. Your solicitor will clear with you that exchange is happening (don’t worry it will NEVER happen without you knowing)! You do not need to be with your solicitor when exchange happens.
When is Completion date fixed?
The completion date will be fixed when you exchange contracts. Generally, all properties in your chain will exchange contracts on the same day, and the completion day (moving day) will be fixed for the same day too.
Who arranged the completion day?
In reality, this is agreed up and down the chain in a fairly cumbersome way. A combination of the sellers and buyers, the estate agent, and the solicitors will resolve this ahead of exchange of contracts.
Why won’t my Solicitor talk to other Solicitors up and down the Chain?
The professional rules which govern your solicitor mean that they can NOT talk to any solicitors other than those directly dealing with your sale and purchase. This can be frustrating for those moving – so bear in mind that they (your solicitor) is absolutely forbidden from talking to other solicitors in the chain – it is not that they are being awkward or unhelpful.
Who is the best person to arrange the agreed Completion date?
Your estate agent is NOT governed by the same professional conduct rules as your solicitor and so is permitted to talk to everyone up and down the chain. For this reason your estate agent is the best person to arrange the completion date ahead of exchange of contracts.
Completion day is the day you move house!
How long will it be between Exchange and Completion?
This can be anything from same day to several months (particularly with new build properties which may not yet even be fully built). Typically, you can expect something in the region of 2-4 weeks between exchange of contracts and completion.
What will the Estate Agent do between Exchange of Contracts and Completion?
Your estate agent’s work is done now until completion day (when they will hand over the keys to your new home)! The only other the estate agent will do is send their bill to the solicitor in readiness for completion. Its an odd convention, but your solicitor pays the estate agent on completion on your behalf (despite you having employed the estate agent long before your solicitor became involved in the conveyancing process).
What will my Solicitor do between Exchange and Completion?
The bulk of the legal work is done, but between exchange of contracts and completion your solicitor will:-
- MORTGAGE – notify your lender that the mortgage money is needed (and for when)
- COMPLETION STATEMENT – send you a completion statement detailing all the money in and out of your sale/purchase. If there is a balance due to or from you on completion the completion statement will detail this
- TRANSFERS – ensure everything is set to transfer the properties to/from the new owners
What do I need to do between Exchange and Completion?
So, here it is – what do YOU need to do between exchange and completion?! Well, quite a bit, but some of this you might already have in hand, and some is more prepping in readiness for completion itself. So, you will:-
- INSURE YOUR NEW HOME – this is IMPERATIVE! And you should do so from exchange of contracts
- COMPLETION MONEY – make sure you have carefully checked the completion statement and you have given your solicitor enough money to complete!
- REMOVALS – have them booked for the big day (completion). It is almost impossible to do this ahead of exchange of contracts as you will not at that point have a fixed completion date. Remember – the whole chain needs to effectively agree the same completion date so it is not just down to what suits you unfortunately!
- PACKING – if you are packing all or some
- WORK – book time off if needed
- KIDS – do you have things arranged for completion day if you don’t want them in the thick of the move (organised baby sitters etc)?
- PET CARE – got pets that will need looking after?
- COMPLETION DAY CHECKLIST – get your big day checklist ready
- POST COMPLETION CHECKLIST – start thinking about this too. Stuff like changing your driving licence as soon as you’ve moved. Fail to do that and you can get fined and points on your licence!!
- UTILITIES – ready yourself to settle all your existing utilities, and organise utilities at your new home
- KEYS – gather together all sets of keys (don’t forget spares with friends and family)
- CHANGE OF ADDRESS – get your change of address checklist done and as many emails and letters ready to go as you can. Sort a mail re-direct if needed.
- FRDIGE FREEZER – they will need to be defrosted and ready to move on completion day
- LAUNDRY – get as much washing done ahead of the move as poss!
- TOOLBOX – have a mini toolkit set for the big day (assembling beds etc)
What happens if Completion does not take place?
Remember, once exchange of contracts has happened, all parties are legally bound to complete and failing to do so is a breach of contract. The party that fails to complete is liable to meet all of the direct losses that the other person suffers. This happens very rarely, and not one to be worrying about! In the unlikely event that it does happen, your conveyancer will be on hand to guide you through the process.
Top Tip for what to do between Exchange of Contracts and Completion
Lists! Without question, lists are your best friend with lots to sort out. Check out our various checklists here on our conveyancing site.
Need more help about what to do between Exchange of Contracts and Completion?
If this article hasn’t covered all of your queries about what to do between exchange and completion, do check out our other helpful posts here on the conveyancing section of our website. If you still haven’t found what you are looking for – please reach out! Our expert conveyancing solicitors are here to help and would love to hear from you!
Fixed Fee Conveyancing
If you are about to move home, and want to know what your legal costs will be, take a look at our instant online conveyancing fee calculator. It will show everything from the conveyancer fee, through to the disbursements such as Stapy Duty, search fees and Land Registry fees. Don’t expect to see separate fees in the quote for advice on things like joint tenancy; contract pack; or enquiries as this is all part of our professional fees (fixed price).
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