Moving Day! – What Happens On the Day of Legal Completion

What Happens On the Day of Legal Completion

Moving Day! – What Happens On the Day of Legal Completion

Woo Hoo – after all the planning, organising and waiting, the day is finally here.  Today we are going to complete on your transaction and you’re off to the house of your dreams.  So what is actually going to happen?

Here’s a step by step guide to all the things that are likely to happen during the day, the few things that could go wrong and how to be prepared for them.

First of all, from our perspective, completion itself is a very simple matter.  We will have prepared all the paperwork in advance, and will have had you sign everything you need to sign.  You will already have paid to us any funds that you are contributing to the purchase price.  So all we are really waiting for is for the money to leave the purchasers solicitors bank, and hit the vendors’ solicitors account.  This can actually happen in a few minutes BUT

Remember that the purchasers’ solicitors might be waiting to receive the funds from the purchasers’ mortgage company.


If you are in a chain, the money needs to come from the transaction below you, who may, in turn, be waiting for money to come from a mortgage company and/or the transaction below them.

So you might need to be a bit patient.

Completion takes place on your transaction as soon as the money reaches the Vendors’ solicitors account.  At that point, the Vendors’ solicitor will notify their client and the estate agents, who will be instructed to release the keys to the purchaser.  At that point, the purchaser should be able to move straight in to the property.

So what happens if the Vendor still hasn’t moved out?

This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen occasionally – normally with people who aren’t properly prepared, or who have had a hold up such as their removal company being delayed.  Usually we would advise being a little patient, but strictly speaking the property no longer belongs to the Vendor and they must move out immediately.  If you get to an hour past completion and the Vendor is still in the property, you’d be perfectly within your rights to start complaining.  If you are the Vendor, make sure you are packed and ready to go as promptly as possible, as if you are the cause of a hold up, your purchaser may have the right to claim compensation from you.

Or what if the money doesn’t arrive on time?

Well completion is usually supposed to happen by 2pm which means that that is when the money should reach the Vendor’s solicitors bank account.  If you are earlier on in a chain, we might make that a bit earlier or if you are at or towards the end of a chain, the parties may have agreed to make it a bit later, to give everyone time to get and pass on the funds, but even then it’s unusual to make it later than 3pm as that is when the banking day tends to end.

The contract will provide for what the parties should do if the funds are later than the agreed time, because it does happen.  If it’s just a bit late, completion can still take place on that day, but if it arrives too late, it may be that completion doesn’t happen until the following day, in which case everyone has to make other arrangements.  This might mean your removal company putting your belongings in to storage and you staying somewhere else, such as in a hotel.

If it is the other party who are at fault, the contract will provide for what level of compensation you are entitled to.  It very rarely comes to this, but it can happen occasionally so it’s best to be prepared such as having a small bag over overnight clothes and toiletries to hand just in case.  Even if you do get as planned, having the essentials to hand, rather than having to unpack everything, can make your first night in your new home much more comfortable.

What happens if the money never turns up?

This is really a once in a blue moon event, but, as we’re on the subject we might as well cover it just so you’re prepared for every eventuality.

When the parties exchange contracts, they are committing to the transaction.  Unless the purchaser can show that there has been a material non disclosure by the Vendor (such as the Vendor having lied about the property having Japanese Knotweed and it’s now come to light that it does have it and the Vendor knew) the parties cannot pull out and must move through to completion.  However, occasionally, this doesn’t happen.

Events that can prevent completion happening are things like one of the parties dying between exchange and completion or the mortgage company withdrawing an offer (for example if they discover the purchaser has lied on their application form).  Occasionally, one of the parties will change their mind, but this isn’t a good enough reason to pull out of a contract.  If any of these events happened, we would be there to talk you through the options.

If the Purchaser is unwilling or unable to go through with the transaction, the Vendor can keep the deposit and keep the property.  However, if there is a chain, this may mean that the Vendor has now lost their deposit, in which case they can sue the Purchaser for losses and damages.

If the Vendor is unwilling or unable to go through with the transaction, the Purchaser can either sue for damages, and/or go to court for an order to compel the Vendor to complete.

If you think for any reason that you might not be able to complete on your transaction, let us know at the earliest opportunity and we will advise you on what your options are.  If the other side fails or refuses to complete, then we will advise you on what you can do about it and we can help you through the process.

Assuming all goes according to plan, and you move into your new abode as expected, you’ll probably be fairly busy for the first few days, unpacking, finding places to put everything and putting your own personal stamp on things.  However, there are a few things we’d advise you to do

Take metre readings of all the utilities and phone them through to your energy supplier(s) as soon as possible.

Take a good look round the property and make sure everything is as you expected it to be, that everything works properly and that there is no damage you didn’t know about and nothing missing.  If there are any problems, take photographs, and send these through to us as soon as possible.  If there is anything we need to raise with the other side, the sooner we do it the better.  If we phone your purchasers in two weeks’ time and say that there is a broken widow, it’s going to be much harder to prove that it was like that when you moved in, than if you’d told us on the day.

Finally, good luck in your new home.  We hope you will be very happy for many years to come but that if and when you do decide to move on, we hope you’ll be in touch with us again so we can help you through the process.

Disclaimer – our articles are designed to give you guidance and information.  There is no substitute for proper direct advice, particularly as everyone’s circumstances are different.  If anything in this article may affect you, please contact us for advice that is specific to your circumstances.

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