What happens on completion day

| 8 min read

Whether you’re buying or selling a property, navigating the market and sales process can be tedious and exhausting. You’ll have gone through a plethora of viewings, read, interpreted, and negotiated numerous contracts and legal documents, and probably even had a few false starts where you thought the process was over and done with, only for one party to back out of the agreement.

But this time, a contract has finally been signed, and both parties are ready to go! The next step is for the buyer and seller to agree upon a date for completion day.

What is completion day?

Completion is legal transfer of the property - that is, the day that the seller receives the money and the buyer receives the keys.

Completion day is determined by both parties beforehand, usually occurring 1 to 4 weeks after the contract is signed.

Ofte, completion day will be in the middle of your work week, as many banks and estate agents only operate on business days.

Though completion day is relatively simple for the buyer, there’s actually a lot happening behind the scenes, as the seller and solicitor or conveyancer have some legal obligations to take care of.

The solicitors involved will already have begun working on their aspect of the sale days or even weeks in advance.

To start things off, sometime between the signing of the contract and completion day, the buyer’s solicitor must request money from the lender, as well as make sure all mortgage conditions have been met.

If there is a mortgage to sell, the seller’s solicitors will need to have its value calculated up until completion day and then request a redemption certificate (proof of how much of the mortgage the seller has paid).

Next, the solicitors involved will create a completion statement - a document that shows the amount of money still owed by the buyer - as well as request that all outstanding invoices be paid by completion day.

On completion day itself, both solicitors will double-check documents, then the buyer’s solicitor will let the lender know they can transfer the money to the seller.

Upon confirmation of the balance transfer and after ensuring all fees are paid (including the cost of solicitors and estate agents), the seller’s solicitor will let the estate agent (or the seller) know that he or she can give the keys to the buyer, and the buyer can move in!

People often wonder why the time period between the signing of contracts and receiving the keys is so long, and the process above is your answer.

Though it’s technically possible to sign contracts and exchange funds for keys on the same day (if all parties involved allow it, including the lender), it takes a lot of careful planning to ensure things go smoothly.

Since many of the steps when it comes to transferring ownership are a part of a chain, one slip-up or delay can stall the whole process. For example, the estate agent can’t hand over the keys until the seller’s solicitor lets them know that funds have been transferred, and the solicitor can’t confirm that the funds have been transferred until they are sent by the lender, and the lender can’t send them until a completion statement has been created…and so on and so forth.

Having an agreed upon the completion day in the future makes things much easier for all parties involved, as it gives everyone time to plan and get their affairs in order.

If you are hiring a moving company, you will likely need an exact date to ensure that they can fit you in their schedule. A delay of even one day due to a slight slip-up could cause you to pay for two days of moving when you only used one. If you are currently renting, you may need to move out of your home by a certain date and may need somewhere to stay or to store your furniture, bed, and other larger items.

If you’re getting anxious waiting for completion day, there are still many things you can do to prepare in advance.

Pack as much as possible beforehand

When it comes to moving, there’s almost always an unforeseen circumstance that causes delay, whether it’s an item you need to disassemble because it won’t fit through your door or a piece of furniture that’s too heavy to lift on your own.

Measure your larger items to make sure they will fit through your front door and move everything you can somewhere that’s easily accessible for completion day.

Keep unpacking in mind

You’re not just packing to physically move your things, you’re also packing to unpack as well.

Keep things organised and labelled in different boxes, and make sure to distinctly label boxes with fragile items (especially if you are hiring movers).

You’ll be eager to start unpacking and decorating your new home as soon as you get the keys, and having everything neat and organised will make things a lot easier and more fun!

Keep in contact

Check in with the estate agent and your solicitor to make sure things are going well and that there’s nothing you need to sign or do.

Also make sure that these people can reach you when you do need to sign a contract or go over some documents. Keep your phone charged and on full volume, be diligent about checking your email, and try not to go anywhere without your mobile phone or Internet access. This will help ensure you’re not the weak link the chain.

Have your funds in order

Make sure the money for the purchase and any other applicable fees is all in the same account so it can be transferred quickly and easily.

Stay organised

Keep all documents relevant to the purchase in one place, and make digital backups by emailing them to yourself or using online storage. Double check with your solicitor, estate agent, and the seller as to what time you will be meeting up and when they need certain documents by.

In summary

All in all, completion day is exciting for both buyer and seller. It is also the culmination of a lot of hard work from all parties involved.

By keeping on top of things, being present, and checking in with your solicitor and agent now and again, you’ll help ensure everything is firing on all cylinders and that completion day is one to celebrate.

Please note that the information provided on this page:

  • Does not provide a complete or authoritative statement of the law;
  • Does not constitute legal advice by Net Lawman;
  • Does not create a contractual relationship;
  • Does not form part of any other advice, whether paid or free.
Contact us about this article

We would love to hear what you think about this article and how we could improve it. Please do let us know. However, we shan't be able to reply to your specific questions. If you have a question about a document, please contact us.

Leave feedback about this page