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  1. Guides
  2. What happens on completion day?
Selling Your House
Selling Your House
Last Updated 02 December 2021

What happens on completion day?

Sam Edwards
  1. How much is my house worth?
  2. 5
Table of contents
  1. 1. What is completion day?
  2. 2. When is completion day?
  3. 3. Completion process
  4. 4. What happens on completion day in a chain?
  5. 5. What happens on completion day with no chain?
  6. 6. Completion process for new builds
  7. 7. How to make sure completion day goes smoothly
  8. 8. What can go wrong?
  9. 9. FAQs

Completion day is a big milestone, and one you should be proud to reach. It's the day you finally move out of your old home and into your new one.

Though much of what happens on completion day is practical (moving house), it's also the last stage of property transactions. That means your conveyancer will be handling a lot of other stuff in the background, like transferring money and organising paperwork. Successful completion days are dependent on good time management, reliable conveyancers, and well-managed property chains.

What is completion day?

Completion day is the final stage of a property transaction (or property transactions if you're in a property chain). The mortgage lender sends purchase funds to the buyer’s conveyancer, who then completes a same day bank transfer to the seller by 3pm. Once this is done, the seller's estate agent (or other appointed persons) releases house keys to the buyer, allowing them to finally move into their new home.

When is completion day?

There isn't a set day for completion day, but you can count on it being the next and last stage of a property transaction after the exchange of contracts. Most people choose to complete two weeks after the exchange, on a day that's suitable for all parties. The date for completion is organised prior to the exchange, and finalised within the exchange itself.

Completion process

Aside for some small variables, your completion process should follow a timeline similar to this:

Before completion

  1. The buyer's conveyancer confirms all mortgage conditions have been met before requesting purchase funds from the mortgage lender.
  2. The seller's conveyancer requests a Redemption Certificate if there's any mortgage left to pay on the seller's property.
  3. Conveyancers (on both sides of the transaction) create completion statements of all payments made and received. They also prepare invoices to be paid on completion.

Completion day timeline

  1. The buyer's mortgage lender transfers purchase funds to the buyer's conveyancer.
  2. The buyer’s solicitor then transfers purchase funds to the seller's conveyancer's bank account by 3pm.
  3. Once the seller's conveyancer receives the purchase money, they confirm completion with the buyer's conveyancer.
  4. The estate agent releases keys to the buyer while the seller's conveyancer ensures any outstanding charges (seller's estate agent fees) are paid.
  5. The buyer is notified of completion, allowing them to move into their new home. Home sellers usually vacate the property by 1pm.

After completion

  1. The buyer's conveyancer registers their client's new ownership with the Land Registry and prepares to pay off any outstanding taxes, such as Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).
  2. Buyers have 14 days to pay outstanding Stamp Duty before incurring penalties.

What happens on completion day in a chain?

If you're in a property chain, completion is usually the same as the process above, but with a greater emphasis on timing. The conveyancers of each party will need to contact each other to confirm the completion of each transaction. One after the other, parties may vacate their properties and collect their keys.

Most buyers and sellers operate in property chains. They're often the primary cause for problems during property transactions. Completion is a big process after all, with a large number of interlinked parties (without direct communication) relying on one another to pull through their transactions.

While a big chain can be intimidating, it's important to remember that your moving timetable is the main thing you need to worry about. Usually, it looks a little bit like this:

  1. 9am to 11am - First time buyer in the chain collects keys.
  2. 11am to 12pm - Second buyer in the chain collects keys
  3. 12pm to 1pm - Third buyer in the chain collects keys.
  4. 12pm to 1pm - Fourth buyer in the chain collects keys.

What happens on completion day with no chain?

If you're lucky enough to not be part of a property chain on completion day, you will have much more flexibility with your moving schedule. As you're not reliant on any other transactions completing earlier, you won't need to move in on the same day as completion.

Completion process for new builds

For new build purchases, the road to completion is a little different to standard properties.

Before completion

  1. You’ll receive your purchase report, a completion statement, and any other important documents from your conveyancer, who will make an appointment to further discuss the purchase. You will need to sign any required documents, discuss the completion date that the developer expects to achieve, and provide payment details for the mortgage deposit.

  2. Conveyancers usually exchange contracts on a new build home with the completion date ‘on notice’. In other words, when the exchange is done, they will wait for notice that the property is ready to progress to legal completion. There's usually a timescale for this included within the contract.

  3. If contracts exchange for completion ‘on notice’, the structural provider will inspect the property when it is physically complete. Your conveyancer will be served with a notice outlining 7-10 days in which to complete the sale. You will be asked to complete your own inspections during this time period. It's important that you inspect the property thoroughly as you won't be able to prevent completion once the notice period is over.

  4. You should complete a snagging list by identifying anything that you don’t think has been completed to a good standard. Check out fixtures and fittings, as well as appliances that haven't been installed correctly, or even at all. The ideal time to make this list would be before completion. These issues can then be fixed prior to completion leaving less possibility of disputes about liability for the issues.

  5. Once there is a fixed completion date, your conveyancer will request the mortgage funds from your lender. Any final balance due from you will also be requested at this time. If you're using a Help to Buy Equity Loan Scheme, your solicitor will request funds from them. Likewise, if you have a Help to Buy ISA, your solicitor will also request the relevant bonus.

On completion day

  1. Your solicitor will send the purchase monies to the developer by bank transfer. Once received, they'll release the keys. They will also provide you with any relevant paperwork for the site and any contents at this stage. This should include any guarantees and manuals.

After completion

  1. Your conveyancer will arrange payment of Stamp Duty (if required) and also apply to the Land Registry to register the property in your name. For new builds, this process may take slightly longer as the property will not have been registered previously.

  2. With all new builds, the developer provides a warranty. Make sure you familiarise yourself with the limits of some of its guarantees.

How to make sure completion day goes smoothly

To prevent any hiccups on your completion day, you should prepare in advance with these quick tips:

  • Hire a reliable conveyancer: The success of completion day hinges heavily on the conveyancing process. Hiring a good conveyancer will ensure that lenders are contacted on time, that mortgage completion statements are completed, and that the final money transfer is completed before 3pm. You can read more about 'How to find a good conveyancer' here.

  • Plan ahead: That means booking your removals company well in advance, and making sure all your belongings are packed in an orderly fashion to prevent problems on the big day.

  • Manage your funds: Make sure you have the right budget for removals and any other fees you’ll need to pay on completion.

  • Communication: Whether you're buying or selling, it's important to keep things open and friendly. Ensure all communication is clear and transparent.

What can go wrong?

While completion day should run smoothly, there can be some issues down the line.

Money problems

On completion day, all money should be transferred on time, and in full, to each of the sellers involved in the chain via telegraphic transfer. On rare occasions, this might not happen on time. As a result, completion is often moved to the next day. This can cause logistical issues with removal bookings and work.

Keys not being released

If the sellers’ conveyancers haven’t received completion money, the seller will be legally advised to withhold keys to the property. If this is through no fault of your own, you may be able to claim compensation from the guilty party. Mortgage lenders, while usually on-time with their transfers, aren't immune to making mistakes from time to time.


Can I exchange contracts and complete on the same day?

You can exchange and complete the sale on the same day, but it's not recommended. Moving these dates together can increase the possibility of problems further down the line:

  • Parties may not receive the money on time and late payments will prevent completion from going ahead.
  • Removal companies need enough notice to book you in. Same day exchange and completion can prevent you from finding a decent removal company.
  • It's good practice to spread out your exchange and completion dates. Book your removal vans with confidence, rather than in a rush.

Who decides when completion day is?

The completion date is decided before the exchange of contracts by the parties in the property chain.

What time do you normally get the keys on completion day?

The time you receive your house keys depends on where you are in the property chain. Usually, the first time buyer receives their keys between 9 and 11am, then other buyers collect their keys in hourly increments depending where they are in the chain.

When do I receive funds from house sale?

Funds from your house sale should arrive in your bank account on the day of completion. Your conveyancer will transfer them to your account once they have been received.

How long does it take for a solicitor to transfer money?

It can take anything from several minutes to several hours for the money to show in your bank account.

Are moving date and completion date the same?

No, they aren't the same, but they usually happen on the same day to best serve the interests of everyone in the property chain. Completion refers to the completion of the sale (transfer of funds), while the moving date is the day you literally move into your new home. If there isn't a chain (first time buyers), then your moving date can be later.

What happens after completion?

If you've purchased a property, your conveyancer will register your ownership with the HM Land Registry. You will also need to pay any outstanding taxes, such as Stamp Duty.

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