The Difference Between Exchange and Completion

Image of house being packed up to move. Conveyancing Blog Post

The stages of moving house…

“What is the difference between Exchange and Completion?” This question is the most common query I receive as a residential conveyancer.



This is the part of the conveyancing transaction where the contract becomes binding; where the Seller agrees to sell the property and the Buyer agrees to buy.  Exchange itself is usually a process of telephone calls between your conveyancer and the other conveyancers in the chain. You do not have to be present on exchange, but you will be contacted on the day as you do need to give your conveyancer verbal authority to exchange on your behalf.

A series of telephone calls may seem a quick process but unfortunately exchange may be delayed if other conveyancers in the chain are not immediately available. The chain of dependant transactions may be long, conveyancers may be engaged with other clients or out of the office, or the conveyancer may simply be waiting for authority to exchange from their clients or a lender.

If you are in a long chain, you need to give your conveyancer authority to exchange early in the day so they can get on with the process.  Once the exchange process  is completed, the completion date is set.  You can then book your removals and make preparations for completion.


Completion – The Move Day!

This is the part of the transaction when the legal ownership, funds and keys change hands.

If you are involved in a long chain of transactions, you need to be patient for the funds to make their way up the chain.  Keys will not be released by the Seller’s conveyancer until the funds have arrived in their account. Only once funds are received, will the conveyancer call the estate agents or their clients to release the keys.

Due to the money being transferred from one conveyancer to another and various security checks being carried out along the way, there may be a delay in the funds being received. This means that unfortunately you may be sitting and waiting with all your belongings packed up in your removal van. Your conveyancer will keep you updated with the progress of funds and even though the standard conditions of sale in the contract confirm funds must be transferred by 2 pm, completion often takes place later in the afternoon.

As soon as the keys are released, your conveyancer will call you so you can collect the keys from the estate agent, or you may have made your own arrangements with the seller.


Tips for completion day!

Well… you need to pack the kettle last as you will be drinking lots of tea!

You need willing helpers, to help you keep calm and keep your removal team waiting patiently until keys are released.

Everyone is keen to get into their new home on completion day and your conveyancer will do all they can to keep you updated. Compromise may be required if matters are delayed, and remember to be considerate. Keep smiling and you will soon be happy in your property.

If you have any further queries about buying or selling a house, our Frequently Asked Questions might help or alternatively, feel free to give me a call on 01332 364436.


Post written by Sheila Biskup
June 2019

Blog by Area of Expertise