Completion Day – The Potential Perils of Moving Home


The day you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. To get things moving be sure to get up early so you can spring into action before the pressure really starts to build.

Moving home can be a logistical nightmare, but you’re nearly there. So try not to feel overwhelmed by all the last minute tasks that now suddenly need to be executed.

Despite many hours of preparation there will inevitably still be some last-minute packing jobs to complete. Still-warm beds will need dismantling, and, unless you’re unnaturally well organised, sheds and garages may yet require a final clearance and sweep through.

The removal firm should have given notice of their scheduled arrival time, perhaps around 8:00am or a little earlier. Once the removal men descend, you may be assigned to tea-making duties and directing traffic. One thing’s for sure, time will now fly by.

You should receive a call from your solicitor or from the estate agent during the morning confirming that funds have been successfully transferred and that the keys are ready for collection. Alternatively, the sellers or their agent may meet you at the property.

With a bit of luck your old house will be fully cleared by lunchtime, before for the arrival of your purchasers, traditionally around 2:00pm. It’s worth agreeing as late an arrival time with them as possible in advance in order to buy yourself some extra leeway. Eventually, the removal van will slowly lumber off down the road, loaded to the gunnels with all your worldly goods. The usual arrangement is to start unloading when you meet them shortly after arrival at their destination.

In the vast majority of cases the move will go smoothly. But before you’re entirely home and dry there are two possible problems that can potentially mess up your day – money and keys.


Money problems

On completion day, a remarkable thing should happen – the synchronised movement of money up the chain to fund all the purchases of everyone involved. Funds are traditionally transferred by TTF (telegraphic transfer).

This is a slightly archaic system that can take several hours, so if there are any delays the outstanding funds may not actually arrive until the next day. As a result, on rare occasions, non-completion due to non-arrival of funds can happen. Such problems are compounded where completion takes place at the weekend, when banks’ and solicitors’ offices may be closed.

If someone in the chain doesn’t receive the money for the sale of their house it will normally prevent them from completing their purchase, which in turn can hold up completion of the whole chain.

This is a potential nightmare, not just because removal firms are booked and ready, but because as a purchaser you are legally obliged to complete on a certain date, and can be held liable for expenses incurred by sellers as a direct result.

The inadequacies of the system mean everyone ends up blaming everyone else, until somehow they muddle through to the next day. To get some early warning of any such problems, keep in regular telephone contact with your solicitor or their ‘completions department’.


Non-release of keys

If your sellers’ solicitors haven’t received your completion money, the seller and the agents will be legally prevented from handing over the keys. This won’t be the kind of news you’re hoping to hear, surrounded by removal men waiting patiently to get on with the job (although this won’t be the first time they’re experienced such a problem).

No matter how nice the sellers are, their solicitors will have advised them of the serious consequences should they kindly allow you access and you then fail to complete.

If you are prevented from completing on the appointed day through no fault of your own, you may be able to claim compensation from the guilty party, for example where a blunder by a mortgage lender was the cause of the hold-up.





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