• 2 min read

What does your conveyancing solicitor mean by ‘completion’ of your house move and at what point does it happen?

A Property conceptual, calendar with hand written vacant possession VP. The right of a purchaser to exclusive use of a property on completion of the sale

‘Completion’ is the date set in the contract for when the transfer of legal ownership will take place.  This is the day upon which the buyer pays the purchase price to the seller, and the seller then releases the keys to the property.

Completion is therefore not only a date, but a process. The process of sending money and keys being released. Not until the seller receives the sale price and releases keys, is there actual completion.

Setting a completion date by exchanging contracts does not a set time, just a calendar day, so technically, the parties have until midnight on that day.

However, the legal contract will usually state that the buyer must at least pay the seller the purchase money by 2pm on the completion date, or the buyer will start to pay the seller interest. Although this contract condition does not set a time for completion, it provides a liability to pay interest, which most buyers will want to avoid. This gives some sort of time commitment from the buyer on the completion day.

Your chosen property lawyer should arrange to have all finances in place at least the day before the completion date, but other situations might occur causing delays to completion.

What delays would there be?

1. The seller’s removals take too long. This can happen because the seller has efficiently prepared for the day, or their lawyer failed to make it clear that they should be ready to move out by noon

2. The buyer’s lawyer has to send the seller’s lawyer the money by bank transfer, but if the buyer is also awaiting money coming in from their own sale, then multiple bank transfers can take time to happen

3. How focussed each lawyer in the chain is in preparing their accounts team to make bank transfers as early as possible on the day

4. Unregulated legal outfits may simply fail to acknowledge receipt of money and release the keys in an efficient manner which causing a ripple effect delay across the chain

5. A mortgage lender failing to release the mortgage advance the day before the completion date, or very late on completion. It is always worth checking with your mortgage lender that the bank transfer is set up and ready for release.

Another pressure on timing on the day is the fact that the cut-off point for making bank transfer is around 3.30pm, so if money cannot be sent, completion may not happen that day.

Please contact us if you have any questions concerning the run up to your completion date, and how you should prepare. our expert residential property solicitors based in Salisbury, Southampton, Poole, Bournemouth and Winchester are on hand to provide you with the legal help and guidance you need. Don’t hesitate to contact Partner and Property Solicitor Lucy Spollin on 01202 339006 or contact us here.

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