How long between exchange and completion?

There is no set time between exchange and completion, you could expect to wait anywhere from one day to three weeks. This is only a rough estimation as the maximum time between exchange and completion could be months or it could be the same day, there is no definitive time frame. During the exchange and completion, you are close to the end of the process of buying your new home and moving in day is fast approaching. However, even though the chances of things falling through at this point are very low, there are still some steps that should be followed.

Whether you are buying or selling a property, your conveyancer and estate agent should be working on your behalf to chase things up and ensure exchange and completion goes smoothly.

Does exchange of contracts mean the house sale is secured?

In short, yes. An exchange of contracts basically means the sale of the house has become legally binding. Securing that the buyer is buying the property and the seller is selling it. The process will typically involve a phone call between conveyancers where they read out the contracts to check that they match. If there is a property chain involved, all parties will have to agree for the exchange to happen before you can hire a conveyancing solicitor and for them to proceed. The buyer(s) will have also paid their deposit at the point of exchange.

What happens if either party wants to pull out at this stage?

If the buyer decides they want to pull out of the sale, not only would the seller possibly be able to keep the 10% deposit, but they could also sue for breach of contract. This can lead to the buyer ending up liable for interest on the unpaid purchase price, conveyancing fees, or other costs. If the seller pulls out, the buyer has the right to sue for compensation on costs and interest on the deposit they paid. So, in essence there will be financial penalties if either party wants to withdraw from the sale.

How long will it be between exchange of contracts and completion?

The conveyancers will be in communication with each other to settle on a completion date. The majority of buyers and sellers will want to get things moving as quickly as possible. However, they might need time to prepare for the move. For example, both sides will likely need to arrange removal vans, cleaners, decorators, and storage arrangements.

Most importantly, if the buyer is using a mortgage, the conveyancers will usually need about 5 days to draw down the funds and forward the Certificate of Title. The buyer’s conveyancer can see the mortgage lender’s procedures and confirm the time needed for this. When a completion date is agreed, the conveyancers are legally obliged to adhere to the deadline. With this in mind, it is rare for a sale not to complete on the set date.

Can the exchange and completion happen on the same day?

Yes, it is possible. However, a simultaneous exchange and completion would need the conveyancers to be very proactive. This often happens in situations where the property is empty, and the seller is already living somewhere else. Also, in cases where the chain is simple and there aren’t any extra parties involved, exchanging, and completing on the same day can make sense. For instance, it is commonly seen with tenanted property sales.