Michael Hardy Blog, News & Updates

What does completion mean?

10 September, 2015

Completion is technically the final hurdle in the process of buying a house. It is the moment when you get the keys to your new home and can pop open the bubbly. We say 'technically' as, really, the stresses aren't quite over. Now you have to book the moving van, begin the fun process of packing endless boxes, switching over energy tariffs and painting. For now, however, you can revel in the fact that your new house is finally yours.

The final hurdle in the process

The part of house buying process is fraught with angst - even after the exchange of contracts there is still the chance (albeit a very small one) that the whole event may fall through due to complications further down the chain or your own seller getting cold feet.

As a first time buyer the process will be dramatically less nerve-wracking, with the chain ending at you, there is much less chance of everything falling through at the last minute. For those with their own property to sell, the day of completion is still one of anxiety.

Managing exchange and completion

In some instances, exchange and completion will take place on the same day, but this will depend on the solicitors an individual circumstances. However, it can be risky to do this. Many solicitors require a minimum of 7 days between exchange and completion and will charge extra for a speedier process.

In advance of completion, you will need to arrange for buildings insurance to cover you from the set date. It's likely this will also be a stipulation of your mortgage provider, so it's essential to get this ready ahead of time.

As the deposit gets paid to the solicitors on exchange of the contracts, pulling out the process after this point could mean relinquishing your deposit. If the seller pulls out, the buyer may sue for compensation.

Making arrangements

Upon completion, the deposit is released, stamp duty must be paid (your solicitor will manage all of this) and you will need to arrange payment for your estate agent too - if you are a seller. Keys must be given over to the estate agent no later than noon, for the buyers to pick up after 2pm. For those exchanging and completing on the same day, this can lead to an anxious wait with a van full of your belongings upon dropping off your own keys, while you wait for those to your new house.

Once you have the keys in your hand, though, you can relax, knowing the home is firmly yours.

For more advice on the property buying process then read our other guides: What does sold subject to contract mean? and What does 'under offer' mean?