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Completion Day Nightmares

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 29 Jul 2012 | comments*Discuss
Exchange Completion Stressed Conveyancer

So, you have made it all the way past exchange to the morning of completion. What do you do now if it all goes wrong? Firstly: do not panic, you will only end up stressed and make a difficult situation worse.

But My Conveyancer Said Everything Would be Fine?

9 times out of 10 everything will go smoothly and you will move in without a hitch but sometimes, and I stress this is only sometimes, things go wrong. Some of the most common are:

  • Mortgage money not arriving: no matter how much notice your conveyancer gave your mortgage lender they will never guarantee when the money will arrive in their account. The problems arise because the banking system shuts down for telegraphic transfer between 3 and PM! If your mortgage money doesn't arrive until 4.45 it is just too late to do anything with it. Ask for the mortgage advice for the day before you complete - you pay an extra days interest but you remove one possible headache.
  • Your removal men don't arrive: this is always a sticky one - how do you move out when you haven't got a van? The best thing I can suggest is to either have a back-up plan (i.e. a van hire company on speed dial) or chase your removal company the day before to re-confirm your booking.
  • Someone in the chain can't move: Surprisingly enough no matter how much talk there may have been about moving dates, there is occasionally someone who decides at the last minute that they just can't move. It's infuriating and inconvenient; it is also often quite expensive, but there are remedies to help with this. The key is, again, not to get stressed. It is likely that you will only be temporarily inconvenienced and rely on your conveyancer to tell you what to do.

How Can I Avoid all Potential Problems?

The fast answer is that you can't. A chain will only complete as fast as the slowest link. But there are ways that you can try to minimise the chance of anything seriously holding you up on the day. Firstly, make sure your conveyancer gets all the money they need together the day before; it will be you that has to pay the interest after all so they should not give you any major problems.

Secondly, move as much of your belongings as possible the day before. Either into storage or into the garage of your new house; the current owner is not obliged to let you do this but it will save a lot of time and worry if you can come to some arrangement.

Third, and most important - do not hand over your keys to your current home until your conveyancer has told you it is safe. You may be best friends with your buyer but if they haven't paid for the house then they are not legally entitled to set through the door and you are still liable for anything that happens to it.

Why Haven't I Got My Keys?

There may be various reasons for this but the biggest is usually the banking system. On a busy day there will be literally billions bouncing around the ether and waiting for someone to press a button. You will be only one of hundreds, if not thousands, of people moving that day and just because your buyer's money arrived nice and early does not mean that the bank that your seller's conveyancer uses is going to deal with it as fast.

What has to happen is this:

  • Money received from buyer
  • Money received from mortgage company
  • Money received from you to complete (if needed)

If only one of these amounts is delayed then the whole thing comes grinding to a halt and you will have to wait for it to get going again. One thing you should note here is that, even if you can't buy your new house, you must vacate your old property as per the CONTRACT once the money has been received. This may well mean that there is a lapse between the handover of your old keys and collecting your new keys but if you don't then you will be in breach of contract.

In Conclusion…

Try to be as prepared as possible, store your things if you can and ask your conveyancer to arrange for as much of the money to be received the day as possible. Do not get stressed, you have enough work to do already without having to reign in your temper! Finally, listen to your Conveyancer, they have a vested interest in seeing you complete (this is when they get paid) and they are not going to hold anything up for the sake of it.

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One other thing to check out is that your insurance covers you right from the moment of completion, when the property becomes yours. It's easy to overlook this, but the last thing you want is to be faced with a huge bill and no insurance if something untoward happens on moving day!
Done It - 28-May-12 @ 7:46 PM
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