What is a Simultaneous Exchange & Completion?

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

Usually in a conveyancing transaction you have time between exchange and completion to organise your move. A simultaneous exchange and completion means that both happen on the same day. The contract does not become binding until it has been exchanged, therefore exchanging and completing on the same day can create uncertainty for both parties.

Why could this happen?

There may be delays in the chain caused by a lender potentially not releasing funds; the conveyancer not holding signed contract documentation or deposit; the file not being signed off by a senior member of staff or where separate solicitors are dealing with a linked sale and purchase.

If exchange and completion does take place simultaneously, exchange will take place on the day you are due to move. This means that you may have already paid for your removals and/or packed up your belongings awaiting your keys.

A simultaneous exchange and completion may work if you are a buy to let investor or if you are a first-time buyer and you do not need to move on the same day that you get your keys.

Risk of a simultaneous exchange

If you exchange contracts and complete simultaneously, there will be extra stress, turmoil and inconvenience. There will be no certainty, and if funds are not received promptly, there is no guarantee that completion is going to happen as conveyancers will be reluctant to exchange contracts until they are certain that completion will take place in order to avoid risk to their client. Until exchange has taken place then either party could still withdraw from the transaction.

If your conveyancer exchanges early in the morning but you are part of a long chain, then it will likely take some time for the monies to pass to each conveyancer’s bank. The bottom of the chain may completion early on. However, if you are further up the chain the bank may not be able to transfer the money in time for your transaction to take place that day. The conveyancer’s accounts team may also have a cut off time for completions and therefore cannot send the money to purchase your new home in time. If completion does not happen that day, your lender may request the return of the mortgage funds and there may be a delay before funds can be requested again.

Notwithstanding the above, a simultaneous exchange and completion is not always a bad thing. Mortgage lenders can still withdraw their offers at any point, therefore a significant period between exchange and completion could leave purchasers without the required funds to complete if the lender pulled their offer between exchange and completion. A simultaneous exchange and completion could therefore prove to be less of a risk to clients who are mortgage funded.

How to proceed

To make your moving day less stressful and more enjoyable it would be best to exchange contracts in advance of completion in order to give yourselves time to organise removals, insurance and inform utility providers.

If you need any help or advice regarding moving home, please feel free to contact me on freephone 0800 011 6666 or via email at c.ball-wood@timms-law.com.


Connor Ball-Wood

February 2024


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