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Completion day when selling your home | The ultimate guide 2023

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When you are buying or selling a home one of the last stages in the process is completion day. But, what happens on completion day? In this guide we are going to go through what completion day is, what happens on the day, what can affect completion day and how to help you make completion day go smoothly.

What is completion day?

Completion day is a milestone moment in the home selling and buying process. It’s the day when the sale of a property culminates, and the new owner officially takes possession. This exciting day unfolds once the buyer and seller have meticulously exchanged contracts, marking a legal commitment to the sale. At this stage, the buyer securely transfers the agreed-upon funds to the seller. This pivotal action culminates in the seller physically handing over the keys to the excited new homeowners. It’s a momentous occasion that symbolises a new chapter for both parties involved.

Throughout completion day, your conveyancing solicitor will be working diligently behind the scenes to ensure a seamless transaction. They will be coordinating with various parties, managing paperwork, and confirming the finalisation of the transaction. This involves ensuring the settlement and approval of all mortgage statements and covering all other necessary fees related to the sale. They’ll also perform last-minute checks, verifying details like property boundaries and title deeds, to ensure no surprises could complicate the process. Trusting the expertise of a competent solicitor can provide invaluable peace of mind as they navigate the intricacies of these legal processes for you.

Who decides on the completion date?

Planning for completion day is a collaborative effort that involves both the seller and the buyer, making it a pivotal exercise in communication and coordination. Typically, the chosen date for this significant event falls between seven and 28 days after the crucial moment of contract exchange. This window of time allows for any final checks, adjustments, or preparations, ensuring that both parties can approach completion day with confidence and clarity. All parties involved actively negotiate this period, ensuring they align their expectations and make any necessary logistical arrangements. Their collective efforts aim for a smooth and successful property handover on completion day.

What day do you complete on?

In many instances, parties schedule the completion date for a weekday. A popular choice among homebuyers and sellers is to target a Friday for completion. This strategy allows new homeowners the luxury of having the weekend immediately available for settling in, unpacking, and beginning to arrange their new living space without the interruptions of a typical workweek. However, there’s an important consideration to bear in mind with a Friday completion. Should any unforeseen issues crop up or should the sale face any delay, the likely scenario would be a postponement of the resolution until the following Monday, a disruption that could potentially upset your moving plans.

Moreover, as Fridays are in high demand for completions, you might find that removal or moving services charge a premium due to increased demand. If budget is a significant consideration for your move, you might prefer to schedule your completion date from Monday to Thursday instead. These less popular days could not only result in cost savings but also provide extra buffer time should any unexpected hiccups occur in the final stages of the sale.

Can you exchange and complete on the same day?

It is indeed possible to to exchange and complete on the same day, a choice which expedite the entire process. However, many buyers and sellers often opt not to do so, as the condensed timeline can introduce a heightened level of stress. The traditional period between exchange and completion allows both parties to meticulously organise and prepare for the logistics of moving. If exchange and completion occur simultaneously, you are essentially left with no transitional period – one moment you’re waiting, the next you’re moving. This means organising removal companies at short notice, packing, and planning the move all while hoping for a smooth transaction without last-minute issues, which, if they do occur, may not have enough time to be resolved.

That being said, there are circumstances where exchanging and completing on the same day could be a practical choice. If you’re not part of a chain, or if you’re a cash buyer, the risks associated with a same-day exchange and completion can be significantly mitigated. Without a chain, you can avoid the risk of the sale falling through due to complications with another property transaction in the chain. For cash buyers, the absence of bank-induced delays or concerns about the transfer of funds reaching the conveyancing solicitor on time can make a same-day exchange and completion more feasible. Therefore, while it’s crucial to understand the potential challenges of this approach, in the right circumstances, it can also offer valuable advantages.

Does it take longer to complete if you are part of a chain?

When involved in a property chain, the timeline towards ‘completion day’ can be more protracted and complex. This is because each participant in the chain must coordinate their individual processes, ensuring everything is well-organised and ready for the final step. The interdependence of transactions in a chain means that any complications encountered by a single member can cause delays rippling through to every other participant. As such, the collective readiness and organisation of everyone in the chain become integral to the smooth progression towards completion day.

Can things go wrong on completion day?

Even with meticulous planning, completion day can encounter unforeseen hiccups. A common stumbling block is the delay in the transfer of funds. This could be due to banking lags, as financial institutions sometimes face a backlog in processing transactions. Alternatively, the delay could occur while the funds are in transit between the buyer’s and seller’s solicitors. Such snags can ripple down the entire process, causing a hold-up. But by choosing a competent and efficient conveyancing solicitor, you can significantly minimise the risk of these fund transfer delays. In our blog post we cover in our blog post here what you need to know before choosing a conveyancer.

Moreover, missing the banking deadline is another potential hiccup that can derail the completion day schedule. In such scenarios, completion would need to be pushed to the next banking day. As such, ensuring funds readiness and organisation can be instrumental in maintaining the timeline

Delays within a property chain can also complicate completion day. If just one participant misses a step – for instance, doesn’t transfer funds in time – the knock-on effect can disrupt the whole chain, leading to postponements.

Finally, mistakes such as the removal company noting down the wrong date or time can throw a wrench into the completion day proceedings. This can be particularly disruptive if you have a significant amount of belongings to move, as you may have to handle the removals yourself, potentially causing substantial delays. To circumvent this, diligent research into various removal companies and selecting a reliable one is crucial. In our blog post we provide an overview of the different types of removal services available to you.

Ways to make completion day go smoothly

Be prepared with all your paperwork:

Having your paperwork ready will mean you can easily have it to hand if anything needs to be checked. If you have to spend time finding paperwork it could cause delays.

Plan ahead:

If you need to hire a removal company you should hire one as soon as you know your moving date. If you leave it to last minute there may be no companies available. You should also make sure you pack everything you are able too before moving day, as you won’t have time on the day to pack your whole house up.

Select a reliable solicitor:

An experienced and responsive solicitor can make a big difference. They will handle the legal aspects and can effectively communicate with all the parties involved to ensure a seamless process.

Keep in communication with the relevant people:

Communication is important for completion day. You want to make sure all parties are aware of the key dates and times to keep everything on track. On the day make sure your conveyancer can communicate with you quickly if problems were to occur. If they are unable to reach you with a problem then the house sale could be delayed.

Have your funds ready:

Make sure all the funds are in place and ready to be transferred on completion day. Clarify with your bank about transfer limits and deadlines to avoid any last-minute hiccups.

Insure your new home:

If you are a buyer then you become responsible for the property when contracts are exchanged, so ensure your new home is covered by buildings insurance from this day.

Plan the timing:

Choose your completion day wisely. As mentioned above many people prefer Fridays for moving, but remember that services might be more expensive and busier then. If something goes wrong, you’ll have to wait until Monday to resolve the issues.

Deal with a property chain proactively:

If you’re in a property chain, be prepared for potential delays. Stay in constant communication with all parties and have a contingency plan in place.

Prepare for delays:

Even with all the planning, delays can still occur. It can be helpful to have a back-up plan in case the move takes longer than expected. This might include having a few essentials packed in a separate bag, or arranging for temporary accommodation.


Completion day can be both stressful and exciting as you want to make sure everything goes right. So, now you know what to expect will happen on the day, you can make sure you are prepared and have everything planned ahead to help the day go smoothly.