Who Decides Completion of House Sale Time & Date?
Looking at what happens on completion day, whether completion happens on moving day, and what the process involves.
Alexandra Ventress ★ Digital Content Writer
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The completion process is the final hurdle of the house selling and buying process, so it is important to be well-versed in the process so you can fully prepare for any last-minute surprises that may come your way during the period between exchange and completion.
In this blog post, we will be looking at when the house sale completion time occurs, what happens on the day of completion, and who decides the completion of a house sale.
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What is the completion time for a house sale?
The completion date for house sale is the final stage that occurs in the conveyancing process. It will typically occur anywhere between 7 and 28 days of exchanging contracts and signifies the end of the property sale and ownership is passed to the new buyer.
During the completion day, the buyer’s conveyancer will be responsible for transferring the final funds to the seller’s solicitor. After the payment has been received, then completion has legally occurred. The buyer will then get the keys to the new house and the seller must move out.
When the day arrives, you may have a target completion time, which is typically anywhere between 11 am to 12 pm, however depending on the chain length it can sometimes take longer.
What happens on completion day of house sale?
House sale completion day is one of the final stages of the house selling and buying process. It is the day when the seller of the property will receive the rest of the funds from their solicitor, which is usually the deposit and the remaining money from the buyer’s mortgage lender.
At this stage, the buyer will be able to collect the keys from the estate agent and move into their new property. They will also receive a signed transfer copy of the title deeds for the property.
The completion of house sale is also the stage where both parties will be required to pay their final solicitors fees. The seller will also be required to pay any remaining estate agent fees and the buyer will need to ensure they have paid any legal costs and disbursements that may be outstanding.
Stamp duty land tax will then be paid by the buyer’s solicitor on their behalf.
What can I expect on completion day?
Every completion day is different, however, as a rule of thumb this is what you can expect when the big day rolls around:
This is the time when the first buyer in the chain, typically a first-time buyer, will complete their purchase transaction
It is now the time when the second buyer, who will have sold their property to the first buyer will complete the purchase transaction
The next buyer to complete their purchase will be the third buyer, who will have sold their property to the second buyer
At 4pm, the final seller in the chain (who only needs to sell) will receive payment from the third buyer and complete the sale transaction. This is where the property transaction will end.
More often than not, the completion deadline will be set before 5:30 as this is the time when the majority of CHAPS banking systems and solicitors offices close for the day.
Can you exchange and complete on the same day?
Yes, it is possible to exchange and complete on the same day, although it can be a risky move! By having the exchange and completion occur on the same day, you may find that either the buyer or seller is not fully organised or prepared to move.
Below are some of the things you may need to look out for if you plan on having exchange of contracts on the same day as completion:
- If you are a cash buyer, then it is easier to exchange and complete on the same day as there is no transferal from the mortgage lenders
- You will need to transfer the funds to your solicitor the day before completion in order to ensure there are no transition problems
- You run the risk of putting yourself in a vulnerable position, as you will have packed up your property and be ready to move, and a seller may ask you for something extra at the last minute. You will not have a lot of room for negotiation so it is best to read carefully.
- If you are chain-free, it will be easier to exchange contracts and complete on the same day
- The majority of mortgage lenders are fine with the buyer and seller exchanging and completing on the same day, however, you should be wary that others require a minimum period of at least 5 working days between
Can you have exchange and completion on different days?
By the time that completion takes place, the seller must have either already moved out, or be moving out on the date. This is the day when the seller’s solicitor receives the purchase funds and transfers ownership.
Should the buyer be without a property to sell, then they will be able to move into the house either on or after the completion day. Should the transaction be a part of a property chain, then the buyer may be at the mercy of the seller’s completion day.
Can anything go wrong on completion day?
As with anything in life, occasionally things can go wrong. Typically, problems can occur with the transfer of funds. This can happen due to money being passed from your mortgage provider to your solicitors, and then onto the buyer’s solicitors. If there is a delay in the transfer and it does not go through before 3 pm, then you will need to wait until the next working day.
If you are part of a property chain, you may also run into issues. Should part of the chain collapse or become delayed then the whole process can be stopped in its tracks.
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How do I make completion day less stressful?
Thankfully, whilst there is always room for error, there are things you can do to help the whole day to progress smoothly. Below we take a look at some of our top tips to help your completion day go as planned:
Plan ahead: It’s always good to prepare ahead of time for moving day, so once you know your house completion day, you should start getting all of your ducks in a row. This means arranging your removal company for the day far in advance, packing up your property and confirming timings with your seller.
Regular communication: Communication is key in all aspects of life, but especially when dealing with your solicitor. Making sure your solicitor is able to contact you at all times is a great way to ensure that you complete your house sale as quickly as possible as if a problem arises, they will be able to reach you and resolve it.
Keep everything together: It is always a wise move to ensure that you keep any and all important documents regarding your house sale and move together. This way if they are needed, you know where they are located and will be able to find them with ease, avoiding delays.
How do Solicitors transfer the mortgage funds?
On the completion day, the buyer’s solicitor will transfer the money for the purchase to the solicitor of the seller. Usually, this transfer occurs using CHAPS payment, as this form of payment allows you to make a payment that is high value on the same day.
What if I can't pay?
If you do not transfer the funds on the contractual completion day, then you will face a fine. However, if the reason that you did not transfer the funds was due to your buyer not transferring, then they will pay a penalty to you.
Who decides the completion date?
The house move completion day is a date that should be chosen by both the vendor and the buyer in advance of it occurring. However it is worth bearing in mind that i you are buying a new build, then this process will be different. The date of completion will typically occur on a working weekday. This is to ensure that the money transfers through that bank in time. Once you have confirmed completion, you will be able to plan your move.
How do I get the keys?
After the seller’s solicitors have received the funds required, they will confirm completion with the buyer and release the keys. These can then be picked up from an estate agent or from the buyer directly.
Can someone else pick up keys on completion?
Yes, they can! You are allowed to have someone else, such as a legal representative or guardian, pick up the keys. If you are the named buyer of a property but are unable to collect your keys or wish to have someone else do so, you must be sure to instruct your solicitor, as well as the seller and estate agent of your plans.
Can a buyer pull out on completion day?
Once contracts have been exchanged, it is impossible for the buyer or seller to pull out without serious legal and financial consequences as this is classed as a breach of contract.
If you are the buyer…
Then you are the one who stands to lose the most financially from pulling out. As a result, you will lose the full deposit funds if you pull out after the exchange, and you may still have to pay a percent of the unpaid purchase price. Your seller may also request that you cover their conveyancing costs for the process.
If you are the seller…
Then you will be required to cover your buyer’s costs for the process. This will typically include the solicitor’s fees as well as surveying costs. You may also be asked to pay accrued interest. It is also worth bearing in mind that the buyer also has the right to pursue legal action.
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