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Completion day moving house

Questions People Moving House Ask Us Most About Completion Day12th May 2021

by Nick Balchin on 12th May 2021

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What Is Completion Day? Does It Mean Moving Day? Do I Get My Money On Completion Day? 

Completion day is when all the completion monies officially change hands and you the buyer are able to pick up the keys to your new home. If you buy your new home with a mortgage, your solicitor will submit a Certificate of Title requesting the monies. The monies will then be forwarded by your conveyancing solicitor on to the seller’s solicitor.

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What Checks Are Done On Completion Day?

Before the mortgage lender releases the money, they’ll review your mortgage case and – if all is correct and there are no outstanding issues – they’ll arrange for the mortgage advance to be released, normally one working day before completion.

If the lender needs to raise a query with your solicitor, then this could delay the drawdown of funds and would need to be actioned straight away by your solicitor. Your solicitor should have reported any unusual circumstances before submitting the Certificate of Title.

When the vendor’s solicitor receives the monies, your purchase is complete and you can collect the keys to your new home. The vendor’s solicitor then releases the funds to their client.

Why Do Most House Completions Happen On A Friday?

Friday is a popular day to move because you have the weekend to unpack. The completion date is mutually agreed between all parties in the chain. 

But with so many people moving on a Friday, this can put added pressure on the banks’ electronic transfer systems – leading to delays in completions (and a shortage of available removal firms).

After Friday, Monday is the next most popular day to move because you have the whole weekend to pack and get ready.

Many moves tend to happen at the end of the month. So the last Friday of the month is always busy – and the last Friday in June 2021 will be particularly hectic because of the impending changes to the Stamp Duty holiday.

Want a quiet day for your completion? Pick the first Wednesday in the month – it’s likely to be quieter. That means less stress and less chance of delays.

What Time Will Completion Happen On The Day? What Time Will I Get The Keys To My New Home?

You should always aim to be out of your old home by noon on completion day. But it’s impossible to tell you in advance what time the move will happen – especially when you’re selling one property and buying another on the same day.

It all depends on when the monies from your mortgage advance or property sale arrive in our bank and then when they arrive in the bank of your seller’s solicitor.

All the monies are sent by telegraphic transfer and the banks cannot guarantee the transmission time.

Do Some Solicitors Ask For The Funds The Day Before?

Occasionally, some solicitors will send us funds the day before to avoid any delay in completion. When this happens, the monies remain in the firm’s client account and are held strictly to the buyer’s solicitor’s order. 

What If I’m In A Chain? How Does This Affect Completions?

If there’s a chain, then the completion process has to happen for each buyer and seller. If just one link in the property chain delays payment, this will cause a hold up for everyone in the chain.

If you or your solicitor fail to send the completion monies to the seller’s solicitor’s bank account on the agreed completion date, then interest is payable at the rate stated in your contract.  In practice, the chance of completion not happening on the agreed date is very rare.

But there is a greater risk of it happening in longer chains – the more links in the chain, the higher the risk.

When Do I Need To Be Out Of My Property? What If There Are Delays In The Chain?

Until the vendor’s solicitor receives the purchase money from their buyer’s solicitor, they are entitled to refuse to let the buyer have the key to move in. So if the money cannot be transferred until the following day, the buyer will incur overnight accommodation and storage costs, as well as the interest penalty.

If the vendor’s solicitor has received the money for the sale of your property, and the buyer has the keys, then they are legally entitled to move in – regardless of whether or not the vendor has a property to move into.

If the vendor is still in the property then they are delaying the buyer’s move. This doesn’t happen very often – and when it does, a degree of sensible compromise usually overcomes this issue. But the vendor could be in breach of contract, leaving them vulnerable to legal action from the buyer

What If My Buyer Has Picked Up The Keys To My Property…But I Don’t Have The Keys To My New Home?

There can sometimes be a delay between the two key releases.

If this happens, you may have to wait to collect the keys to your new home. So it pays to be prepared just in case: either pack a picnic or grab a quick lunch at a restaurant, pub or café until you can get the keys and start your move.

In practice, people who are delayed in their move tend to wait in the estate agent’s office or in the removal van.

What Can I Do To Help Ensure My Property Completion Runs Smoothly?

  • Be prepared – this includes having all your household items packed up and your removal service booked in time to move.
  • Be contactable – make sure you have your mobile phone with you at all times; your solicitor and estate agent will need to be able to speak with you to confirm completion.
  • Have all your paperwork readily to hand – in case you need to check anything before moving into the new property.
  • Ensure you transfer funds to your solicitor before the day of completion.

What If There Are Problems Agreeing A Completion Date?

The completion date is fixed at the point of exchange of contracts. There is a degree of compromise between all parties in the chain in agreeing a completion date. 

This is the reality: with no agreement, there’s no completion – and with no completion there’s no move. So buyer and vendor have to agree – even if they don’t find the completion date (or each other) agreeable.

What About Meter Readings And Changing The Locks?

Don’t forget to take meter readings at your old property as you’re moving out so you can cancel your gas and electricity. You don’t want to end up paying the utility bills for the new owners!

And you will also need to take meter readings the moment you move into your new property.

In both instances, it’s wise to take photos of the meter readings. That’ll give you a precise timed and dated record of the meter readings – much better than a scribbled note on a piece of paper that could easily get mislaid in all the upheaval of the move.

Don’t forget to change the locks and get spare keys cut as soon as you can. If there’s a burglar alarm at your new home, you’ll need to reset the alarm code. That means ensuring you have the instruction manual to do so.

Test any smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace the batteries if necessary (or as a matter of course just to be safe). No smoke/CO2 detectors at your new home? Fit some as soon as possible – as a priority. Your family’s safety may depend on it.

Further Reading

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This document is not intended to constitute and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice on any specific matter. No liability for the accuracy of the content of this document, or the consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. If you seek further information, please contact Managing Partner Neil Andrews at Coles Miller Solicitors LLP.