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How long does completion take?

In most cases, completion on a house sale should just be a formality. The main business of the sale will have been done at the exchange stage when a 10 per cent deposit is paid and contracts are exchanged.

An Exchange of Contract means all parties are now legally bound to the agreement to move and any timescale given for the completion date is really ‘breathing space’ for all parties to get the finer details in order – such as arranging removals, taking final meter readings, arranging insurance, broadband connectivity and of course, packing.

How long does completion take?
How long does completion take?

The actual act of completion is relatively straightforward and requires THREE things to happen:

  1. The buyer’s solicitor receives the mortgage from the mortgage lender.
  2. The buyer’s solicitor sends the monies to the seller.
  3. The seller releases the keys.

Because of the relative simplicity of completion, it can technically be done in a day and for some parties even on the same day as exchange of contracts. But a simultaneous exchange and completion can be very stressful as funds can be delayed or parties can still decide to pull out up to point of exchange. Allowing one to two weeks is the most preferred period for completion as it gives both parties peace of mind that the deal is sealed and time to start planning the move to their new home.

Marcus Simpson of Sam Conveyancing says the length of completion depends on individual circumstances. “When you exchange contracts, you have a number of options on completion depending on your own circumstances. Some parties, who are in an incredible hurry and want to snap up a property fast, can complete simultaneously on the same day. Others might be tied to a notice period on a rental property and want completion to take place in three months time.”

Once the completion date is set, issues can arise for unforeseen reasons such as monies fail, or the mortgage offer expires – but it is very rare because the penalties are so very high. Marcus explains, “If completion fails, the party in breach will be served with notice and charged the Law Society rate of interest, plus the party in breach will also lose their 10 per cent deposit which can be costly.”

Depending on where you are in the chain, and how on the ball your solicitor is, many first time buyers can expect to pick up their keys between 9-11am with second, third or fourth buyers further down the chain collecting their keys between by lunchtime.

Enjoying the moment of finally completing on your new home is a big thrill. But, planning the wrong length of time for completion can make moving house a lot more stressful. Take time to think about what is realistic and best suits your circumstances.

Marcus Simpson, SAM Conveyancing