When buying a home, the process is long. Exchanging contracts on a property is definitely important – and being it is also wise to be aware of the things that can go wrong in the run up to the big moment, and just after. In this blog, we’ll focus on the part of the process that comes later – completion. For many people, completion is so far on in the process, and past the psychological “point of no return” of exchanging contracts, that it’s not thought about until the very end. Once the exchange of contracts has occurred, or so the theory goes, nothing else can go wrong – so why worry about completion until you have to? Completion is, however, a significant moment in the calendar. It’s wise to know well in advance exactly what happens on completion day, and what you need to watch out for.

What does completion mean?

Completing a house purchase is the final stage in what is often a very long and arduous process. It means, put simply, that the binding legal contract you entered into when you exchanged has now reached its final goal, and has hence “completed”. Completion day is usually also the day on which the balance of the transaction is sent from the solicitor to the seller in order to settle the transaction. For cash buyers, this means sending the rest of the money, and for borrowers it means having the mortgage funds released and moved. This can often be done the day before in order to prevent delays from arising. For pretty much everyone, completion day is usually also the same day on which you move in – although this might not be the case if you are looking to, or are required to, renovate prior to the actual move, or if you are planning to let out the property. It’s usually the point at which the stress of the actual house move is over, and hence can be “parked”. The most important moments, such as decorating and settling in, can now begin.

Can you exchange and complete on the same day?

In theory, there’s nothing to stop you from both signing the contract and completing on it on the very same day – although there are some possible reasons why you might choose not to do this. The first reason is that it can cause a significant logistical headache. If you are hoping to move from one place to the next on the same day, it is likely that you will need to confirm the move at the last minute and hence may find it difficult to secure a van or other resource required to get the move done. Even if you’re happy to do this, there’s no guarantee that everyone else in the chain will be willing to put up with such a process – so you could find yourself having to compromise in any case. One advantage of doing it this way is that it minimises the potential risk to the buyer. In usual circumstances with a period of time in between exchange and completion, if some problem was to occur such as a change in mortgage status, there would be no recourse for the buyer – and the whole transaction could, in theory, fall through. This is less likely to happen when the buyer is exchanging and completing on the same day, as your solicitors will check in advance of exchanging that your mortgage funds can still be accessed.

Who are the key players on completion day?

Staying in touch with all parties in the transaction is important when completion day rolls around, as it means there is less chance of everyone losing track of what is happening. The main key player to be in touch with is your solicitor, or conveyancer. This is because they are the ones who are primarily responsible for ensuring that the mortgage funds are released, and this is crucial. Without the funds being released, you may not be able to settle the balance of the bill and complete the transaction! They will also be in touch with the conveyancers in the rest of the chain, so they will keep things ticking over for the whole group. What’s more, your conveyancer will be the first to know in the unlikely event of any issues with your mortgage coming through – such as a problem with funds, or a delay in them arriving. So, by being in touch, you’ll be able to act fast. The estate agents also retain a role in this part of the process. They are responsible for making sure that everyone in the chain is still communicating – so if one set of solicitors is slow to respond, buyers can often go back to the estate agent and ask them to chase everyone up. It may also be worth staying in touch with your mortgage provider too. In the event that any additional items are required, such as last-minute pieces of information, they may well tell you before they tell your solicitor. When buying and selling houses, it’s important to know exactly what is happening when – and this is especially true from the key nodes in the process, such as exchange and completion. Without having these two properly understood, you could find yourself in a situation where you can’t make decisions or find the right person to contact – and that’s no good in a stressful house move situation. As a result, it’s worth getting ahead of the curve and staying as in touch with the other parties in the process as possible. From working out who is responsible for doing what task to ensuring that you have the widest possible range of options in front of you (such as something radical, like exchanging and completing on the same day), you can make the process as smooth and easy as possible. If you’re struggling to sell altogether, Spring can help. Find out more information here.

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