What is Completion?

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Completion is the point at which you own your new home – and you move in!

Completion is the day that you move house!  It is the final big step in the conveyancing process, and it follows on from the exchange of contracts.  Your conveyancing solicitor will release your mortgage from your lender, send the completion money to the seller’s solicitor, and then the keys to your new home will be released by the selling estate agent!

Your conveyancing solicitor will guide you through the whole process, but meantime, here is a simply guide explaining completion.

What is Completion Day?

Completion day is the day you actually move.  Though there will be some ‘admin’ for your conveyancing solicitor to deal with after you move (like registering you as the new owner(s) at H M Land Registry), this is the big day as far as you are concerned!

Is Completion Day the same as Exchange of Contracts?

No!  Exchange of contracts is the point at which everyone becomes legally bound to buy/sell.  At that point (exchange of contracts) the completion date (the day you move house) will be fixed.

How long is it between Exchange of Contracts and Completion?

Completion can be anything from the same day as exchange of contracts (this is relatively unusual), through to months (for example with a new build property that is not yet finished).  Typical time frames tend to be between 2-4 weeks.  This gives you time to confirm/book your removals, arrange time off work, etc.

What has to happen before Completion?

The key stages of the conveyancing process (which need to have all been done before completion can take place are:-

  1. ONBOARDING – being engaged formally as a client with your solicitor
  2. CONTRACT PACK – prepared by the seller’s solicitor
  3. SEARCHES – this is for the buyer and their solicitor organises this
  4. MORTGAGE – this is for YOU to sort (NOT your solicitor)
  5. SURVEY – this is for YOU to sort (NOT your solicitor)
  6. ENQUIRIES – conducted by the buyer’s solicitor

Once these are all done and your solicitor has ‘reported’ to you, you are then ready to EXCHANGE CONTRACTS.  At this point (exchange of contracts) your completion date will be set.

What if I am in a ‘CHAIN’?

If you are caught in a dreaded ‘chain’ then both exchange and completion tend to have to be synchronised ‘up and down’ your chain (ie transactions above and below you).  To that end, both exchange and completion will only take place once everyone is ready to go.  This is the principle of a property chain only being as good as the weakest ‘link’.  And, it can be extremely frustrating for those parties that are ready to go where others in the chain are not ready.

What happens between Exchange and Completion?

Once exchange of contracts has taken place you will know for sure that the move is going to happen, and when (completion date is fixed at exchange of contracts).  So, you can book removals, arrange time off work, and start to organise things like getting broad band installations booked.

What will my Solicitor do between Exchange and Completion?

Your solicitor has little to do between exchange of contracts and completion.  They will notify your mortgage company that completion is fixed and make arrangements for money to be sent to them in readiness for completion day.  They will also send you a ‘completion statement’ ahead of the big day detailing all money in and out so you know exactly what is what.  They will also send a different completion statement to the relevant solicitors in your related transaction (sale or purchase) confirming the amounts due between them (ie between the solicitors as opposed to what is due to or from you).

What time will I formally complete on the day of Completion?

This depends on a number of factors including the chain you are in (if any), plus how quickly the solicitors can get the money up to the seller’s solicitor on your own transaction through the banking CHAPS system.  The time of completion can be anything from 9am – 5pm!  And, there is NOTHING your own solicitor can do to hurry up other solicitors in the chain, or the banking CHAPS system.

A long chain can mean completion day is frustrating…

What is a Completion Statement?

A completion statement is a financial statement detailing all of the money involved in your conveyancing including:-

  • Money from a related sale
  • Deposit money paid
  • Solicitor’s fees
  • Mortgage money being released
  • Land Registry fees
  • Search (and other ‘disbursement’) fees

Will my Solicitor let me know if they need money from me before Completion?

Yes!  Your solicitor will provide the completion statement ahead of the big day.  This will give you time to send them any money needed to complete (if anything needs to be send which it often does not).

When will I get my Completion Statement?

This depends to some extent on how long there is going to be between exchange of contracts and completion.  If it is going to be a ‘simultaneous exchange and completion’ (ie on the same day) then your conveyancing solicitor will provide you with the completion statement before then.  More typically there is 2-4 weeks between exchange and completion and that being so, your completion statement will usually be prepared and sent to you in that intervening period between exchange of contracts and completion.

What does my Solicitor do on the day of Completion?

On the day of completion the solicitors will be busy sending money up and down the chain through the banking ‘CHAPS’ system.  As they each receive that money the following telephone calls happen:-

  • SOLICITOR to SOLICITOR – the buyer and seller’s solicitor confirm completion
  • SOLICITOR to YOU – your solicitor will confirm that completion has taken place and you are the proud owner of your new home!
  • SOLICITOR to ESTATE AGENT – allowing the estate agent to release the keys to the buyer

What do I do on the day of Completion?

If you are also selling (as well as buying) your removals company will empty your (soon to be) old home, and once done you will take your keys to the selling estate agent.  You then have to wait (for your purchase to complete).

Once you have the telephone call from your solicitor to say that your purchase has completed you must go the estate agent dealing with your purchase, and they will hand over the keys to your new home!  That’s it – you are the proud owner of your new home, and the unpacking can start!

What will my Solicitor do after Completion?

Your solicitor will register you at H M Land Registry as the new owner(s) after completion.  This is a simple process and largely a matter of admin.  They will of course notify you once this is done.

What do I need to do after Completion?

Well, you must unpack first of all…!  The obvious things to be sure about are that all postal stuff is re-directed, old utilities (at your previous address) are paid and closed, and you have registered at the new address for utilities, council tax, and so on.  You MUST also update your driving licence – its actually against the law for your licence to have an old address on it!

Any queries about Completion Days?

If you have any queries about completion days that this or any of our other articles don’t cover, do please reach out to our team of expert conveyancing solicitors – we’re here to help!

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