We explain how many days are between exchange and completion, who sets the number of days and if you can exchange and complete on the same day. This gap between can save or cost you hundreds in moving costs, so make sure to get it right.

How long between exchange and completion?

(Last Updated: 22/02/2024)
9 min read
Key Takeaways

How long between exchange and completion can be any time, mutually agreed between all parties in the chain, although 2 weeks is usually the standard. Most buyers want to exchange and complete on the same day, which is possible but not advisable. We explain the pros and cons for how long the time should be between you exchanging and completing - quite often, it comes down to what is logistically possible rather than anything else.

A Property Chain is the term used for all of the buyers and sellers connected via various sale and purchase conveyancing transactions; it most often has a first-time buyer at one end and someone selling a home without buying one somewhere else at the other.

Although some of the parties in a chain may opt for a completion date 2 weeks after the exchange, there's no 'one-size-fits-all' as some in the chain may be looking for a month - especially if the first-time buyer at the bottom of the chain is in a rental with a 2-month notice.

Choose how long between exchange and completion

We will help you choose how long you should have between exchange and completion and examine the pros and cons for each of the following:

Can you exchange and complete on the same day?

Exchange and completion on the same day is an option. It comes with logistical issues, which normally stop it from happening. The biggest problem that stops exchange and completion on the same day is drawing down mortgage funds. Here are the other pros and cons:

  • Suitable for cash buyers - with no mortgage to draw down, you aren't affected by mortgage lender delays.
  • Suitable for buy-to-let investors - as they aren't moving into the property on the day of completion and may also be taking on an existing tenant.
  • Faster completions
  • Very stressful - juggling exchange, completion and getting removals organised is not advisable and often dangerous as something could get missed.
  • Not suitable if you are getting a mortgage - it normally takes 5 days for the bank to send the mortgage
  • Either party can pull out prior to exchange - if this did happen, you could be potentially liable to pay unrecoverable third-party costs, such as mortgage interest and removals
  • No time to hand in rental notice - first time buyers in particular may be affected by this, may make this choice unfeasible (not to mention very expensive for them)

3 days between exchange and completion

This is a great option for a no-chain and vacant property, often adopted by first-time buyers. In essence, it gets the fastest completion after exchange and has very few downsides other than it may take your mortgage lender more than 3 days to send your solicitor the mortgage funds.

  • Faster completions - less risk between exchange and completion (see below what risks there are).
  • Suits shorter chains and vacant properties - shorter chains can work to the short time frame to pack and be ready to move out and move in.
  • Very little time to pack - does 3 days give the seller enough time to pack and leave the property in a reasonable condition?
  • Some mortgage lenders take 5 days - mortgage lenders can take 5 working days to send mortgage funds.
  • No time to hand in rental notice - if your notice period is 2 months, then you'll be paying rent and mortgage repayments for months.


Exchange of Contracts


Completion Day Checklist


Pre-Exchange Checklist


What is the best and worst day to complete?

You can complete on any day the seller and the buyer agree on. Most people choose Friday as their completion day to tie in moving in with the weekend, maximising the time to unpack and get their life in order. However, with Friday being in such high demand, you can find the removals cost a lot more than any other day of the week. If you can do so, choosing a Monday or a Tuesday to complete can save on removal costs and your solicitor is less likely to be busy.

Another issue of completing on a Friday is that if you do fail to complete, you have to wait until Monday before you can complete which means the breaching party is covering the other party's costs over the weekend. You can read more about the costs of failing to complete here.

1 to 2 weeks between exchange and completion

This is the ideal time between exchange and completion, giving both seller and buyer time to organise themselves once they know they are legally bound to complete after exchanging contracts. Remember, before exchanging, there are no guarantees either party will complete.

  • Suitable for first-time buyers, repeat movers and cash buyers
  • Time to organise - buildings insurance, removals and packing once you know you have exchanged
  • Time to draw down mortgage - with a 3 to 5-day lead time to draw down a mortgage, this is an ample amount of time to draw your funds in time for completion.
  • Less stressful - More time to organise always means less time to stress, especially as the exchange of contracts has legally bound both the seller and the buyer.
  • More likely the chain will agree - with so many other parties involved in the chain, a 1 to 2 week time should suit everyone. Find out how a property chain works by clicking here.
  • You have to wait 1 to 2 weeks to move in - there are little downsides to a 1 to 2 week period between exchange and completion, as it is the most common time frame to complete after exchange of contracts.

A clock representing how long between exchange and completion

1 to 3 months between exchange and completion

This length of time is predominantly requested by first-time buyers looking to tie in their rental notice period with their exchange. The formal notice period for assured tenancy rentals is 2 months. If you are tempted to hand in your rental notice before exchanging contracts, then read this - Made Homeless After Handing Notice to Landlord.

  • Suitable for first-time buyers who rent with a 2-month notice - you can limit the time you have paid for rent and also pay your mortgage (it is always good to have a week between completion and moving out of your rental, so you can make any repairs the rental needs to protect the repayment of your rental deposit.
  • Time to organise - buildings insurance, removals and packing once you know you have exchanged
  • Time to draw down mortgage
  • Less stressful
  • Less likely the chain will agree - the majority of people in a chain want to have a 1-2-week period between exchange and completion, so you may struggle to get the chain to agree to 1 to 3 months between them.
  • You have to wait to move in

Exchange contracts without a completion date

When you buy a new build property, you must exchange contracts within 28 days after reserving it. You are given an estimated time when the property will be built. The final build date can be delayed; however, once the property is signed off as completed by building control, the developers serve notice on you, and you'll need to complete it within 2 weeks.

  • Suitable for cash buyers - with no mortgage, there is no concern over arranging mortgage funds in time for a future completion date. A completion date could slip, and your mortgage offer won't go out of date.
  • Time to organise - buildings insurance, removals and packing once you know you have exchanged

Frequently Asked Questions
Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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