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Completion Day Checklist: What to Expect

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

The time to collect your new house keys is almost here!

Before loading up the removals van, it helps to know exactly what to expect. Are you prepared? What can go wrong?

Here’s a completion day checklist to help you along the way…

What does completion mean?

House completion is the day the money is transferred, and you can officially say that the house is yours.

The sale becomes legally binding only after contracts have been exchanged and signed by both parties. Completion is when you can begin the process of moving into your new home.

Can you exchange and complete on the same day?

In some cases, the day of completion is the same as exchange day.

However, this isn’t case, as exchanging contracts can be a lengthy process. Plus, there are many things that need to happen between exchange and completion - which would make doing both on the same day extremely stressful.

As well as this, delayed completion is common, however this can have benefits for both buyer and seller.

Making completion day easier

There are ways to make the process easier, such as:

  • If you’re a first-time buyer, or chain free, this can significantly speed up the time it takes to complete
  • Paying in cash means you don’t have to wait for the banks to process your funds
  • Many find themselves asking ‘who do solicitors take so long to exchange contracts?’ So, the better your solicitor - the quicker the process. They should be responsive and communicative at all times
  • Build up a rapport with the seller - open lines of communication are key, as you can stay updated with where they are in the process
  • Keep records of any exchanges with both your seller and solicitor

How long after the exchange of contracts is completion day?

There’s no rule for this, as it depends on the situation. However, it usually takes place between 7 and 28 days.

After contracts are exchanged, both buyer and seller have a role to play in setting the completion date. Having it in writing makes it more likely that the date will be upheld.

Ideally, set it for a weekday, as banking systems are sometimes delayed over the weekends.

What happens on completion day?

There are three main stages of completion…

  • Your solicitor will receive necessary funds from your mortgage lender
  • Your solicitor sends money to the seller
  • You can collect your keys

Clearly, when it comes to completion day, being prepared is essential. So, let’s take it through step-by-step…

House sale completion checklist

Now you know what to expect on the day, it’s time for a quick checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything.

Complete all searches

Typically, when you buy a property, your solicitor or conveyancer will perform thorough checks on it. These searches ensure that your new home isn’t about to find itself surrounded by a motorway, for example.

While sellers have to respond accurately to any direct questions you raise, they are not legally required to volunteer information about the property, so it’s up to you to check all potential issues.

Searches can include, but are not limited to:

  • The local council’s future plans for your area
  • Drainage and water - ensuring you’re connected to the mains
  • Housing issues, such as subsidence
  • Finding out any renovations your neighbours may have
  • Flood risk (if you live near a river)
  • Mining (if you live in an area with mining activity)
  • Land registry, to check that the person you’re buying the property from is the legal seller

Ensure you have your funds in place

Before the house completion, make sure you have sufficient funds for your deposit. Being disorganised with your funds will cause the completion process to be delayed.

This may sound obvious, but we couldn’t leave it off the checklist!

Check that the formal mortgage offer is in place and that those funds will be released on the correct day.

Make sure all stamp duty tax forms are completed and signed.

Check all contracts

If the property is leasehold, make sure you have the freeholder’s consent for the property to be bought. This will be dealt with by your solicitor.

Double check all final contracts. Cover everything that you expect and have agreed to, such as all fixtures and fittings.

When you’re with your solicitor, have them go through anything in the contracts that you need clarification on.

This is your last chance to make sure nothing is missing, and clear up any miscommunications.

If it feels like you’re micromanaging, so be it. You want to ensure everything is as it should be!

Check the EPC

Check the Energy Performance Certificate of your new home. You should have done this earlier, but it’s important to do it one last time to be sure.

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Maintain contact with the seller

House completion is a two-way contract. Sellers can also withdraw during the final stages!

If the seller tries to change the purchase price of the property, make sure you can seek advice from your solicitor as to how to best handle negotiations.

Don’t forget about buildings insurance

Ensure you have home insurance in place from the day you exchange.

You may not move into the property immediately, but it is still legally yours.

If it burnt down before completion date, you would still be obliged to purchase it. So, you’d lose anything you paid on exchange of contracts.

Too many of us, first-time buyers in particular, forget about this!

Collect your keys

Usually, you’ll pick up your new house keys from the estate agent. The previous owner of the property will leave them there for safe keeping until you’re ready!

Need more advice?

We understand that the house buying process can be fraught with difficulty and uncertainty. From pre-completion to beyond, we have plenty of tips, tricks and advice for buyers. Regardless of whether you’ve done this before, we can help you get your dream home with minimal hassle or fuss. Find more of our advice for buying a property here.

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