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How Can You Make Completion Day Go Smoothly?

There are numerous steps in the home buying process, and “completion day” is the last one. It is the day that everyone looks forward to with excitement, filled with expectations and visions for the future. It is the day that you are handed the keys and take possession of the property.

To make sure that completion day goes as smoothly as possible in England and Wales, there are several things that should be done, which are covered below.

Steps that must be taken prior to completion

For a legally binding contract of sale to take place, there must be an exchange of contracts. Along with the exchange of contracts, there will also be a deposit paid by the buyer.

Confirmation of the sale going ahead is given by the buyer’s solicitor before the completion day. This allows time for the request for funds from the mortgage lender to be transferred to the seller.

When are contracts exchanged?

Before completion of sale can go ahead, the exchange of contracts is typically made between one and four weeks before completion. However, sometimes completion of a sale can take several months to finalise due to problems with the chain of sale, or with a new build property which has overrun its construction time deadline and isn’t ready for occupation yet.

With careful planning, the exchange of contracts can and does occur on completion day, but by doing it this way, you run a greater risk of something going wrong. One of the things that can go wrong is uncertainty around whether you will definitely be moving until that day, making it tricky to plan and arrange things like furniture removals or deliveries. In addition to this, if the seller makes an unexpected last-minute demand on the buyer, it could make the situation more precarious for you and put you in an awkward position.

At the point of exchange of contracts, the mortgage funds are then requested from the lender. Each lender has their own policy on when these funds are transferred, which is why it’s important to know beforehand how they operate. Some lenders transfer funds the same day they are requested, while others take 5 days, causing the completion date to be delayed for several days after contracts have been exchanged.

When exchanging and completing on the same day, it is less likely that something could go wrong if there wasn’t a chain involved in the sale. When sales of other properties are involved, more can go wrong. Therefore, many buyers consider selling their house prior to buying a new one, something that will favour them in the eyes of the seller.

Completion day of property sale

The seller’s solicitor will receive the funds from the buyer’s solicitor on the day of completion, typically a weekday, so that funds can be transferred. When the funds have been transferred, the buyer can then take possession of the keys to the property and either move in or prepare it ready for use as a buy-to-let investment.

Depending on what arrangements have been made, the buyer collects the keys from the seller directly or from their agent. The time you can pick up the keys is determined by what time of the day the money was transferred.

It’s common for completion day to fall on a Friday, which gives the buyer the weekend to move in and get settled. On the other hand, Fridays are more expensive for removals hire because it’s the day that others also want to move. Furthermore, since solicitors and conveyancers are not as busy during the early part of the week, arranging for the completion day on one of these weekdays is advantageous in reducing the likelihood of any hiccup or delay.

Moving day

Your position in the chain will determine when you are able to collect the keys, since each sale is dependent upon the one in front having completed their sale. People in the chain ahead of you will have to finish their completion before you can have yours.

Another reason why selling your home before buying is worth considering is that, by not being dependent on selling your own property, you can collect your keys first, without delay. This applies to first-time buyers or those that have already sold up.


Waiting for a lender’s mortgage offer can cause delays between accepting an offer and arriving on completion day. Mortgages agreed in principle still need to be secured with a formal offer by the lender prior to the exchange of contracts and completion. Issues with the application can cause delays, such as mistakes or inaccuracies on the form, or a disparity in valuation between the lender and the price you agreed to.

Delays can also happen when the lender or buyer hasn’t transferred the funds on time. Typically occurring on completion day, such a delay can cause all sorts of problems for the buyer with arrangements in place to move in.


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