How long does it take from exchange to completion?
You’ve finally reached the last leg of your house-buying journey. You’ve exchanged contracts with the seller and you have your completion date – but how long after completion is this usually set?
Well, we can’t give you a definitive answer to this question as it all depends on your own sale and what you agree with the seller. However, once you exchange contracts you will know how long you have to wait until your house purchase completes.
Up until the point of exchange of contracts, there’s no telling how long a house purchase could drag on for. It all comes down to whether you have additional surveys carried out, something comes up in one of the searches that your solicitor needs to look into or you’re locked in additional negotiations with the buyer. The speed with which the rest of your chain moves also plays a part.
For example, if you’re involved with a chain of buyers and sellers, this could delay the process. If you’re planning to sell your current home you might be relying on the sale to fund the deposit for your second property. If the seller of the property you wish to buy is in the same position, this can cause the entire process to come to a grinding halt.
Unfortunately, there’s little you can do to make your property sale move faster at this stage or to prevent it from collapsing. But this all changes when you exchange contracts.
According to Homeowners Alliance, it can take between seven and 28 days from the exchange of contracts to the completion of the property’s sale. As we said, it all depends on your unique situation.
At this stage, contracts will be drawn up for both you and the seller to sign. Your solicitor will go through your contract with you before exchanging it with the seller’s solicitor.
One of the details listed in your contract is the date of completion. This is often between a week and a month from when you exchange, but it could be longer and it might even be the same day. So while we can’t tell you for sure how long you’ll have to wait between exchange and completion, you’ll know as soon as you get your contract.
"Once you exchange, you're in a legally binding agreement."
Once you exchange, you enter a legally binding agreement. So before you sign any contract, you should be certain you want to go ahead with buying the property. You’re likely to pay your deposit on the property when you exchange, and because you’ve signed a contract agreeing you will go ahead with the purchase, if you back out at this stage you could lose this money.
During the exchange process, your solicitor will check everything on the contracts is correct. The contract will set out in writing all the negotiations made between you and the seller.
In the contract, you’ll find details on what you’ll pay for the property, the fittings and fixtures that are included and the completion date of the sale. At this stage, your solicitor will also submit an application to the Land Registry to transfer the deeds to your name.
Other things to consider
Once contracts are exchanged on the property, you become legally responsible for arranging buildings insurance. Without this in place, your solicitor will not be able to progress with the purchase of the property.
It might be a good idea to check which company the seller is currently using, as you may decide that it’s more cost effective to continue with that insurer.
Can I extend my mortgage offer?
During the exchange of contracts, you should have a written mortgage offer to present to your solicitor and the funds for the deposit to be paid to the seller.
As we mentioned earlier, the purchase may move quicker if you’re chain-free and not relying on the sale of your current house to use as your deposit.
"Your house purchase may move quicker if you’re chain-free."
If the seller is dragging their feet and your mortgage offer is due to expire, you should speak to your lender to see if you can extend your mortgage offer. This will give you some extra time.
Keep in mind that if your mortgage offer expires and your lender doesn’t extend it, you will need to reapply. This will mean that you’ll need to go through the same financial checks as before. If your income, outgoings and credit history have significantly changed, this could affect whether your second application is successful.
The day has finally arrived and you can pick up the keys to your new home. Usually the keys will be left with the estate agent.