The end is nearly in sight. You’ve exchanged contracts and the date is set to complete the transfer of ownership of your home. But what happens on completion day, exactly? What do you need to do if you’re the buyer, or the seller? Read on, and discover what the end of the property buying/selling process actually looks like.
What is completion day?
Completion day is literally the day when you complete the transfer of ownership of a house or other property. It is the final part of the property buying/selling process.
What happens on completion day?
Completion day has three main parts – the solicitors’ paperwork, the transfer of money, and the release of the keys.
Solicitors’ paperwork: Both sides’ solicitors make their final checks and sign off the relevant paperwork. The buyer’s solicitor checks that all mortgage conditions are met, and requests the agreed amount from the mortgage lender. The seller’s solicitor requests a Redemption Certificate for paying off the remaining mortgage on the property (if there is one to pay off).
Transfer of money: If everything checks out correctly, the buyer’s solicitor authorises the transfer of the amount agreed as the sale price from the buyer’s bank account to the seller’s. Once this has been received, the seller’s solicitor makes sure that all necessary debts and charges are paid. This includes their fees, the estate agent fees, stamp duty, the seller’s remaining mortgage, and any other charges that may apply.
Release of keys: Once the money is in the right place, completion is confirmed with the estate agent. They then give the keys to the new owner, who can legally move into their property.
Do I get keys on completion date?
On completion day, the keys are given to the new owner, usually by the estate agents involved in the sale. Sometimes, the previous owner may give the keys to the new owner.
What time do you get keys on completion day?
Usually, the target time to release the keys to the new owner is midday on completion day. However, it may be later if the exchange is complicated.
Who can collect keys on completion day?
Generally, the new owners will collect the keys to the property on completion day. However, it is allowable to have someone else collect the keys for you, such as a guardian, legal representative, someone with Lasting Power of Attorney, etc.
If you are the named buyer but want someone else to collect the keys for you, you must instruct your solicitor, the seller and the estate agent of your wishes.
How long does it take for money to transfer on completion day?
The money for the purchase of the property should be transferable within two hours after the request is made on completion day. This is how long it takes to transfer funds from one UK bank account to another.
If the buyer needs a mortgage, the funds are requested from the mortgage lender when the contracts are exchanged. So, they should be ready to transfer on completion day.
How soon after completion do you pay mortgage?
If you are selling the property and have a mortgage, your solicitor will pay off the remainder once you receive funds from the buyer on completion day. This is an important part of the completion day process.
Can I exchange and complete on the same day?
It is possible to exchange contracts and complete on the same day. This is becoming a popular option for cash buyers who want to complete the purchase quickly.
However, most mortgage lenders need at least 5 working days to approve and release funds after a mortgage request has been made at contract signing time. So, if a mortgage is needed to finance the purchase, it may not be possible to exchange and complete on the same day.
What can go wrong on completion day?
There are several things that can go wrong on completion day. Mostly, problems occur because of human error. If any of the checks, paperwork and confirmation of contract conditions are mishandled, it can delay the whole process by hours, days or longer.
Another common problem is the late actioning of payment by the bank. This shouldn’t happen if everything is running smoothly, but the bank may be undergoing maintenance, security issues, etc. Late payment can slow everything down, especially if the property completion is part of a chain.
Besides the actual process of completing the transfer of ownership, you may also have problems with the removal element. If your movers are late, don’t turn up or have the wrong type of transport, etc, then this can be a major headache.
How can I make completion day easier?
You can make completion day easier by doing the following:
Keep everyone in the loop: Communicate with your solicitor and the estate agents. If there are any potential problems or uncertainties, tell them early. If you have questions, get them answered well before completion day.Double-check your removals situation: If you have belongings to move, double-check with the removals company that they have the correct address, timings and number of people/vehicles to bring.Keep your paperwork in order: If you are the buyer, be completely sure that your funds are where they are supposed to be. If you’re the seller, make sure you and your solicitor have access to everything needed for the title deeds. Again, if you aren’t sure, ask the professionals. If there’s a problem, it’s better to find it sooner rather than later.
If you’re about to experience your own completion day, then good luck! We hope that it goes as smoothly as possible. For more guidance on how to buy, sell and rent property in the UK, consult our growing list of guides and advice articles.
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