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31st May 2023

Do you have to pick up keys on completion date?


When purchasing property, the completion date marks when legal ownership changes; this date marks either the conclusion of your buying process or commencement of your tenancy agreement.

On your closing date, usually either the seller or real estate agent will hand you over the keys to the property.

This can either take place on-site at the property itself, or in another designated area such as an agent’s office.

Coordination among all involved parties, such as your solicitor and real estate agent, to ensure a seamless handover of keys on completion date is of utmost importance.

They will provide specific instructions and arrange for key collection at an ideal time and place.


Can you complete and exchange on the same day?

In the United Kingdom, it is customary for contracts to be exchanged and completed on separate days rather than all at once – this practice is known as “split exchange and completion.”

At this stage, both buyer and seller or their legal representatives sign legally binding contracts that obligate both parties to proceed with the transaction. A deposit may also be given at this stage by the buyer to the seller’s solicitor; once exchanged, both sides become legally obliged to go forward with it.

Set an approximate completion date a few weeks following exchange of contracts, on which buyer pays remaining balance, transfer ownership is completed and keys to property typically handed over on this date.

The split exchange and completion process in the UK allows enough time for necessary preparations and arrangements, such as property searches, financing arrangements, legal or administrative tasks completion etc.

Note that this general practice can differ depending on your circumstances or transaction types; consulting a solicitor or conveyancer specializing in UK property law will give you more in-depth and specific advice tailored to your particular case.

Should I give over the keys before completion?

As a general guideline, it is not advisable to give keys over prior to completion of the property transaction. On completion day – typically when legal ownership transference occurs and keys can then be handed over – keys may be handed to buyers and given over.

Before completion, the seller remains the legal owner and ownership rights for both parties have yet to be defined. Transferring keys before completion could pose risks or cause complications that would need to be managed in advance.

Here are a few reasons why it may be beneficial to wait until completion before handing over the keys:


  1. Legal Ownership:
    Until completion occurs, legal ownership remains with the seller and early transfer could cause confusion or legal complications should the transaction go south as intended.


  1. Contractual Obligations:
    Typically, contracts outline both parties’ responsibilities and liabilities until completion, so turning over keys prematurely would breach its terms.


  1. Financial Risks:
    From the buyer’s point of view, taking possession of property prior to its completion may open them up to financial risks. Should their transaction collapse or encounter complications before completion, they could already have invested time and resources into this property before abandoning it altogether.


  1. Insurance and Liabilities:
    Until completion, sellers usually remain responsible for maintaining the property they’re selling. Handing over keys early may complicate matters regarding insurance coverage or liability for incidents or damages occurring prior to finalisation.

Adhere to the advice of legal professionals involved in your transaction, such as solicitors or conveyancers.
They will guide you through all necessary processes and ensure that the transfer of keys meets legal and contractual requirements for property purchases.


How to make completion day easier using the checklist

Moving house checklist

Closing on a property transaction can be an intricate process, but careful preparation and organization can make completion day less stressful. Here is a checklist to assist with preparation for completion day and ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible:


Keep in close contact with your solicitor, conveyancer, real estate agent and any other parties involved in your transaction to ensure everyone understands what arrangements must be put in place to complete it on schedule and as planned.


Financial arrangements:
Prior to completion day, ensure all financial arrangements such as mortgage funds or deposit payments are in place and ready. Coordinate with your solicitor or lender for an easy transfer of funds.


Property Inspection:
Before closing day arrives, schedule a final property inspection to make sure that everything has been completed according to plan – for instance any repairs or agreed-upon changes have been completed as agreed upon.


Assure yourself with adequate insurance on the completion day. This should include building insurance and, if applicable, contents insurance.


Utilities and services:
Once your move has concluded and ownership transferred to you, notify relevant utility providers such as gas, water, electricity and telephone/internet providers about the completion date and ownership transfer. Arrange for transfer of services into your name.


Removals and Logistics:
If you plan on moving on the completion day, book your removals company well in advance and make arrangements for packing, labeling, transporting and unloading your belongings at their new destination. Notify all relevant authorities (for instance reserving parking space).


Documentation and Identification:
On completion day, gather all required paperwork and identification. This could include proof of identity, proof of address, legal or financial documents that pertain to completion day activities.


Key Collection:
Coordinate with your solicitor, real estate agent or landlord on completion day to arrange for the collection of keys from them at an agreed upon location and time. Also make sure you have made arrangements to access the property easily.


Notify relevant parties of Your Address Change:
Informing banks, insurance providers, government agencies and anyone else with whom you need to stay in contact of any changes to your contact information can be complicated but is essential in maintaining relationships and being effective.


Celebrate and Settlin In:
Once the closing of your property has taken place, take some time to celebrate it and start unpacking, arranging utilities, and familiarizing yourself with its features.


Remind yourself that this checklist is only meant as a general guide; individual requirements may depend on your location, property type and circumstances. Therefore it’s wise to seek professional guidance or advise from real estate agents familiar with your specific case to ensure a seamless completion process.