You might think all the work is done by exchange, however, here is a complete run through on what happens between exchange and completion and who needs to do what and when.
 

What happens between exchange and completion?

25/11/2022
(Last Updated: 22/02/2024)
1,199
5 min read

What happens between exchange and completion depends on who you are in the chain. The seller, buyer and their respective solicitors all have jobs to do that need to be finalised before completion. We have a to-do list for everyone involved so you know what everyone needs to do.


What should I be doing between exchange and completion?

Buyer
Seller
  • Pack up possessions in property, ready to move out.
  • Organise Royal Mail postal redirection for the date of completion.
  • Release keys to selling agent or the buyer once confirmed by the seller's solicitor.
  • Vacate the property and leave it empty on completion. Read more - Seller left personal property in house - what can you legally do?
  • Take utility meter readings and give to providers.

Solicitor final checks before exchange

The buyer's solicitor will review the source of funds, contracts, title documents and property searches. They will also raise the legal enquiries and write a report on the title of the property.

The seller's solicitor will draft contracts and respond to enquiries. If needed, they will carry out the necessary investigations to try and satisfy those enquiries.

What happens between exchange and completion solicitors?

Buyer's Solicitor
  • Send executed contract of exchange and 10% deposit to the seller's solicitor.
  • Send the Certificate of Title to the mortgage lender to drawdown mortgage funds the day before completion.
  • Draft completion statement and send to buyer. Read more - What is in a purchase completion statement?
  • Send completion monies to seller's solicitor.
  • Confirm once completion has taken place and keys have been released.
  • Pay SDLT, register property at Land Registry. Read more about - What happens after you complete?
Seller's Solicitor
  • Receive 10% deposit from buyer's solicitor.
  • Send Replies to Requisitions to buyer's solicitor.
  • Request mortgage redemption statements from mortgage lender/s
  • (if leasehold) Request up to date service charge and ground rent statements and send completion statement to buyer's solicitor.
  • Draft completion statement and send to seller.
  • Receive completion monies and pay off any mortgages.
  • Call the buyer's solicitor or estate agent to release the keys.

How long can the gap be between exchange and completion?

The standard time between exchange and completion is usually 2 weeks. The issue is when you're buying a new build property, as you will be exchanging contracts within 28 days of reserving it, and it can take months to completion.

The timeline will be agreed upon by the parties involved in the transaction on a case-by-case basis. You will find that the shortest time between exchange and completion can be the day of completion or 3 days before, although this might not always be suited. The maximum time between exchange and completion can be a couple of months. We explain the timeline in more detail in our article - How Long Between Exchange and Completion?.

Can things go wrong between exchange and completion?

Once contracts are exchanged, you are legally bound to complete the transaction, which means you can't pull out of the transaction after this stage without incurring financial costs. However, some issues may still arise in the process.

  • Completion day can be delayed
  • Property defects may be discovered
  • Mortgage issues, such as the mortgage offer being withdrwan

What if the buyer wants access before completion?

This poses risks to both sides, read our guide before giving the buyer access before completion.

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Exchange of Contracts


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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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