Completion Chronicles: The Final Steps And Celebrations In The UK Home Buying Process
For most home sellers in the UK, completion day marks the final milestone in what has likely been a lengthy and sometimes stressful journey to sell their property. While the exchange of contracts confirms the sale, completion is the day when the property legally changes hands and the seller receives their proceeds from the sale. It’s an exciting and relieving moment, but the work isn’t completely done yet. Sellers still have some final steps to take on completion day and beyond to fully wrap up the sale of their home. Let’s walk through what sellers can expect as their sale reaches the finish line.
Preparing for Completion Day
In the days leading up to completion, the seller’s conveyancer will be hard at work behind the scenes finalising the legal transfer and liaising with the buyer’s solicitor. But the seller also has some preparations of their own to make. Here are a few things they will need to do
- Tidy and clean the property – It’s courteous to hand over a clean and tidy property to the new owners. Sellers should aim to leave the property in the same or better condition than when it was first viewed.
- Arrange for final meter readings – The seller needs to take final meter readings for gas, electricity and water on the day of completion and notify the utility providers. This ensures they only pay for what they have used.
- Redirect mail – Set up a mail redirection service with the Post Office to forward mail to the seller’s new address.
- Cancel services and subscriptions – Remember to cancel or switch over any cable/satellite TV, broadband, phone and insurance services related to the property.
- Pack essentials – Pack a bag with essentials needed on completion day and for the first night in your new home like toiletries, change of clothes, prescription medicines, pet supplies and so on.
Completion Day Timeline
The buyer will have specified the completion date when the contracts were exchanged. This is usually 1-4 weeks after exchange. Here’s a general timeline of what the seller can expect on the big day
- Morning – The conveyancers will confirm the completion time and transfer the purchase funds into the seller’s account.
- Afternoon – The estate agent will meet the seller at the property to hand over the keys to the buyer.
- Early Evening – The new owners arrive to take possession of the property. It’s tradition for the seller to leave before the buyer arrives.
- Evening – The seller settles into their new home and celebrates a successful sale!
The completion process takes place electronically between the conveyancers with no need for the parties to meet in person. The seller is free to move out and get settled into their new home on completion day.
The handover of the property keys marks the final step of ‘what happens on completion day‘. Here are two common rituals
- Balloons – Many sellers tie colourful balloons to the letterbox or front door knob to brightly signal the new owners. It’s an eye-catching way to say ‘Welcome home’.
- Handwritten Note – Some sellers leave a handwritten letter for the buyers sharing well wishes and useful information about operating appliances or quirks of the property. It’s a thoughtful personal touch.
These rituals add a celebratory feel for the buyers arriving at their new property and a satisfying closure for the seller too.
After months of preparations and property viewings, exchange delays and solicitor back-and-forth, completion day deserves a proper celebration! Here are some popular ideas
- Dinner party – Host a dinner party in the new home as a housewarming. This also helps make the space feel like home right away.
- A night out – Mark the milestone by enjoying drinks and dinner out with family to toast the successful sale.
- Home spa night – For a peaceful celebration, create a home spa experience with a soothing bath, face masks and luxury products.
- Holiday – Plan a weekend getaway or longer vacation using the proceeds from the sale. It’s the start of an exciting new chapter!
The sale journey is unique for every seller. Whether the time was filled with ups and downs or went smoothly from start to finish, completion day brings a chance to celebrate a job well done and look ahead to plans made possible by the sale. Pop that champagne and enjoy the moment!
Final Steps for the Seller Post-Completion
While completion day wraps up the legal sale, the seller still has a few remaining tasks:
- Pay off the mortgage – If there is an outstanding mortgage, this will need to be repaid using the sale proceeds.
- Pay estate agent fees – The seller will need to take care of any remaining fees owed to their estate agent.
- Redirect post – Continue the mail redirection service for 3-6 months to catch any lagging post.
- Change address – Notify organisations, subscriptions and utilities of the address change using a change of address service.
- Remove belongings – Schedule removals and clear out any remaining possessions from the property. Work with the new owners on timing.
- Keep records – Hold on to all records related to the sale for tax purposes or any future needs.
Taking the time to fully complete these final steps gives the seller closure and ensures a clean break from the sold property.
Completion day is the light at the end of the tunnel for UK home sellers. While the legal process takes place behind the scenes, the seller can look forward to celebratory rituals like balloons and handwritten notes as they hand over the keys and become a step closer to the rewards of their sale. By preparing thoroughly, tidying up loose ends in the days after completion, and taking time to celebrate this milestone, home sellers can find satisfaction in a job well done and exciting new beginnings ahead.