The Home Stretch: Succeeding On Completion Day In The UK
Completion day is a pivotal moment when buying a home. Following months of searching, offering, financing and conveyancing, ownership is finally realised. Being strategic with the handover and immediately protective of your purchase is key. Here is a guide to making the most of completion day and setting yourself up for success as keys are exchanged.
Overview of Completion Day
What happens on day of completion is the most awaited answer for the property market. On completion day, the property sale legally finalises:
- Your conveyancer arranges for your mortgage and/or deposit funds to be transferred to the seller.
- The estate agent or seller’s solicitor provides instructions for collecting the keys.
- You receive the title deeds from the seller’s solicitors.
- Utilities like gas, electricity and council tax will need to be transferred into the new owner’s name.
- Insurance needs to be activated immediately to cover the home.
Inspecting Before Completion
If possible, inspect the property again before completion:
- Walk through all rooms checking for damage versus your original viewing.
- Look for signs of dampness or deterioration that may have been concealed.
- Check all appliances and plumbing fixtures are in working order.
- Ensure no furnishing or fittings included in the sale have been removed.
- Flag any changes or concerns immediately with your solicitor.
A final inspection highlights if the property’s condition has altered since the sale agreement.
Joint Completion Meetings
For added assurance, request a joint completion meeting:
- This involves all parties – buyer, seller, estate agents and solicitors.
- The condition is reviewed and keys are handed from the seller to the buyer.
- Any concerns can immediately be raised and evidenced in writing.
- Your solicitor can then protect your interests regarding any issues.
A joint meeting provides transparency and accountability around the handover.
Choosing Removal Firms
If relocating, choose removal firms wisely:
- Obtain several quotes – prices can vary significantly.
- Seek recommendations to find reliable and affordable firms.
- Check the reputation and reviews of shortlisted companies.
- Confirm they are fully insured for damages during transit.
- Agree on an inventory checklist of items they will move.
Reputable removal firms prevent unnecessary costs or losses when relocating possessions.
To maintain services, contact utility providers ahead of completion:
- Organise final meter readings with the existing owner a day or two before completion.
- Notify gas, electricity, water and broadband companies of the change in occupancy.
- Arrange for billing to commence in your name from the date of collection.
- Confirm service continuity – companies should do this automatically.
Utility switches ensure seamless provision and avoid erroneous billing.
Activating insurance immediately is crucial:
- Buildings and contents cover must be effective from the moment you get the keys.
- Confirm policy start dates with providers – do not leave a gap uninsured.
- Consider broad cover limits in case issues like leaks arise before moving in.
- Add additional protection like legal expenses cover if desired.
Insurance from the exchange of contracts provides risk mitigation as ownership commences.
For investment properties, follow deposit protection rules:
- Received deposits must be protected in a government-backed scheme within 30 days.
- You will be liable for 3x of the deposit value in penalties for non-compliance.
- Provide tenants with scheme details and terms within required timescales.
- Understand deposit return procedures for end of tenancies.
Deposit protection is a legal requirement – mismanaging this risks heavy fines.
Prioritise early DIY enhancements:
- Give rooms a fresh coat of paint in your preferred colours.
- Upgrade fittings like door handles, tap heads and cabinet handles for an easy lift.
- Fit curtain rails or poles and hanging. Measure carefully for a tailored look.
- Clean thoroughly before moving belongings in.
Minor cosmetic improvements make it feel like your home from day one.
Don’t lose documents handed over on completion:
- Ensure you receive the title deeds and any structural documentation.
- File all sales records safely – these may be needed for future conveyancing.
- Keep warranties or certificates for any appliances included. Log installer details.
- Add dates and notes to manuals for items like the boiler.
Proper documentation helps with ongoing property management and future sales.
While the legal process is handled by conveyancers, you can take steps to make the most of completion day when acquiring your new home. Being present at handover, transferring utilities, activating insurance, handling deposits, and undertaking quick improvements provides a smooth transition into ownership. Completion day represents the start line – taking ownership protectively and proactively from the outset sets you up for the road ahead as a UK property owner.