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23rd April 2021

What happens on completion day?

Completion day is the final step in the conveyancing process, when ownership of a property is transferred from the seller to the buyer, and the seller must vacate the property. All payments will be successfully made, then the buyer will pick up the keys to their new home, and can move in. To ensure a successful completion day, make sure you communicate clearly with your conveyancer and estate agent.

Completion day

What will take place on completion day?

To give you a guide on what to expect to happen on completion day, here are the six essential steps that will occur:


1) The final funds due will be paid to the seller’s conveyancer from the buyer’s conveyancer, using same-day bank transfer. Usually, this will occur in the morning. Your conveyancer should be in touch as soon as the money has been transferred.

2) When the seller’s conveyancer has received the final funds, which is usually between 12 pm and 2 pm, this means completion has legally taken place.

3) The seller’s conveyancer will provide confirmation to the buyer’s conveyancer that the funds have been received, and then they will give the estate agent permission to provide the keys to the property to the buyer.

4) The estate agent will get in touch with the buyer to let them know the keys are now available for collection.

5) Both the buyer’s and seller’s conveyancer will contact their respective clients to inform them that completion has occurred and the keys are ready to be collected.

6) The property must have been fully vacated by the seller, ready for the buyer to move in. Both parties should have already sorted the logistics of their removal well in advance of completion.

What is the best day of the week for completion day?

As most solicitors and banks are closed on Saturday and Sunday, it is not usually possible to schedule your completion day over the weekend. A very popular day of the week for completion to occur is Friday, as it gives the new owner the weekend to settle into the property.

How does completion day work without a chain?

A property chain means multiple houses are all connected by being dependant on one property being sold so the next can be bought. The timings on completion day will be different depending on whether or not you are part of a property chain.

If you are fortunate enough to not be part of a chain, then completion day will be a much simpler process, as you won’t be waiting for other transactions to go through before you can settle yours.

Usually, completion will take place at 11 am, once the required payments have been received by the buyer’s conveyancer. They will transfer the final funds to the seller’s conveyancer. As the seller is not then buying another property, the buyer should be able to move in quickly.

How does completion day work as part of a chain?

A property chain will usually consist of 4 or 5 transactions, and your completion day timeline will vary depending on how many people are involved and what problems occur.

A guide completion day timeline for a chain would be:

  • 11 am – the first buyer in the chain, who is usually a first-time buyer, completes their purchase.
  • 1 pm – the second buyer in the chain, having sold their property to the first buyer, completes their purchase.
  • 3 pm – the third buyer, having sold their property to the second buyer, completes their purchase.
  • 4 pm – the final person in the chain, who is only selling, receives their payment and completes the sale, ending the property chain.

Can the exchange of contracts and completion happen on the same day?

It will usually not be possible to exchange and complete on the same day. Usually, completion day will happen between 7 and 28 days after the exchange of contracts. Trying to exchange and complete on the same day makes too many opportunities for things to go wrong and cause delays.

Completion day for new build properties

If the property you are buying is a new build, the conveyancing process is slightly different compared to previously occupied properties, so you won’t be able to agree a fixed day for completion. The main reason for this is usually that the property is still being built, so nobody can be certain on when completion will be able to take place. Unfortunately, it may take a few months of waiting after the exchange of contracts to set a completion day, depending on the progress of the property developer.

What problems might I have on completion day?

Transferring ownership of a property is a complicated process, and various problems can crop up that will cause delays, even at this late stage. Some problems to be wary of are:

  • A delay of the purchase funds – usually someone buying a property will be funding it with a combination of their own savings and money from a mortgage. To ensure everything goes smoothly, it is best if the purchase funds are paid to the buyer’s conveyancer the day before completion day, so the full payment can be made immediately to the seller’s conveyancer on the morning of completion day. A delay can be caused if the buyer or mortgage lender is late in sending the necessary payments to the buyer’s conveyancer.
  • A delay in your property chain – if you are part of a chain, you might suffer delays through no fault of your own if a payment in a different part of the chain has a delayed payment.
  • Missing the CHAP’s deadline – the final funds must be in the seller’s conveyancer’s bank account by 4 pm, otherwise the completion of the transfer may have to wait until the next working day to be successful. This is caused by most banks CHAPs systems closing at this time on this day.

How to avoid problems on completion day

To avoid unwanted delays and problems, keep these tips in mind to minimise the stress of completion day:

Be organised – the fact you are reading articles like this is a good indication, but make sure you understand exactly what needs to happen throughout the day and keep track of any progress being made.

Communicate frequently with your conveyancer – schedule a time to speak to your conveyancer on the morning of completion day to discuss everything, and make sure you keep in touch as the day progresses.

Stay available for contact – you must be contactable all day for information or in case of problems. Make sure your conveyancer and estate agent can get hold of you at any time throughout the day.

Complete payments early – make you sure have paid any money required to your conveyancer the day before completion day. If you wait until completion day, there could be unforeseen problems with the transfer and you will face delays.

Vacate your property early – the sooner you can vacate the property you are selling, the better it is for all parties. The latest you should still be in the property is 12 pm.

Why not check out our moving home checklist to ensure you have everything in place.