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What Can You Do To Avoid a Completion Day Nightmare?

Completion day is the day that the house becomes yours. On this day, the balance of the purchase price is paid to the seller’s lawyers and you receive the keys to be able to move into your new home.

Completion must take place on a working day and that date will usually have been agreed beforehand if you have exchanged contracts.  It is usual for a completion date to be at least a week following an exchange of contracts to enable all parties to finalise arrangements and put  finances in place.

What Happens On Completion Day?

It’s a busy day!  Both parties, as well as their legal representation, will have roles to play in closing the deal, and these will each depend on who is buying and who is selling.

For buyers, completion day looks like this:

  • First, funds will be transferred from your solicitor to the seller’s lawyers. This can take some time if there is a chain of people below you as the funds must go through all lawyer’s bank accounts.
  • Once the funds have been received, the seller’s lawyer will call the estate agents to release the keys to the house. The estate agents will call your lawyer, who will, in turn, inform you.
  • Your lawyers will also pay any Stamp Duty Land Tax to HMRC provided you have authorised and confirmed the sum due is correct.

Completion day for sellers looks a little bit different:

  • You’ll need to make sure the property is fully vacated by the agreed time, which can be any time but the traditional example is 13:00 at the latest.
  • Once monies have been received, your lawyer will contact the estate agents to release the keys to the buyer.
  • Your solicitor will then handle the discharge of your mortgage (if any)  and settle any other outstanding fees, such as the estate agent’s fees, before transferring the remaining sum to you.
What Can Go Wrong On Completion Day?

Many of the problems come from houses being bought and sold in a chain. Someone has to sell their home in order to move into a new one, the owners of which are doing the same thing, and so on and so forth. If just one person in the chain fails to complete, it could have knock-on consequences for everyone.

Avoiding the Rush

It is advisable to have time between exchanging contracts and completion so that all parties involved have sufficient time to organise themselves. If you are having a mortgage, your lender will stipulate, usually as a minimum, that they require 5 clear working days’ notice for funds release.

Remember it is not compulsory to complete on a Friday, or the day before a Bank Holiday. Any working day is okay if agreed by all parties in your chain. Lawyers and banks may be able to transfer funds more quickly, there may be more choice of remover’s availability and in the event there were to be something go wrong, there is a working day the day after rather than a weekend where nobody can assist you.

Delays at the Bank

With such large amounts of money changing hands, banks could take some time to process the payments. If the first bank in the chain receives funds early in the day (say, 9:30am), but doesn’t action the payment for an hour, and the same thing happens at every bank in the chain, funds might not reach your point in the chain until later than expected.

Make sure you have received a completion statement from your lawyer at least a few days before so that you can ensure any balance due from you is cleared into your lawyer’s bank at least 24 hours beforehand. If you are having a mortgage, request your lawyer asks your lender to send the mortgage funds the working day beforehand. There may be a little interest to pay but as lenders cannot guarantee the time of day their funds will be received, it’s a small price to pay for certainty of having funds in time.

Your Mortgage

Funds will only be released by your mortgage lender once they have received everything they have asked from you, such as completed direct debit mandates etc.  Prior to exchange of contracts, it’s a good idea to contact your lender to make sure they have everything they need from you.

Removals Problems

Don’t leave these arrangements until last minute. Before you exchange contracts, make sure your preferred remover (or van hire) company can accommodate your date, otherwise you may physically be unable to move. If you are moving yourself, be realistic about how long it is going to take you.

Don’t Forget The Pets!

Maybe arrange for a friend or family member to have your pet for the day or at least keep them happy and contained whilst all the commotion of moving is going on. You don’t want a missing pet as you are about to leave.

Thankfully, completion day problems are uncommon but taking the above into consideration may help you achieve a trouble-free move.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Residential Property team via email: mail@clarkeandson.co.uk or call at 01256 320555

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