How Long Will It Take To Exchange and Complete?

There is no set time for how long it takes to exchange and complete a property transaction. However, our experience is that the purchase of a straightforward freehold property takes about 8 to 12 weeks, and a leasehold apartment takes around 10-14 weeks. When you are ready to exchange contracts, you can fix the agreed completion date 9which can be the same day or an agreed date).

Which comes first – exchange or completion?

There are 2 formal stages to conveyancing – Exchange and Completion. Exchanging contracts comes first and is the process that legally binds the buyer and seller to the transaction. Completion comes second and is the date that actual ownership of the property transfers from the seller to the buyer.

Why do solicitors take so long to exchange contracts?

To reach the point of exchange of contracts, your solicitors must have completed all their investigations into the property and had their enquiries answered to their satisfaction. A buyer should also have all their financial arrangements in place, including the mortgage offer. This is because once contracts are exchanged, a buyer is legally bound to the purchase of the property. Therefore, the pre-exchange part of the conveyancing process normally takes longer than the gap between exchange and completion.

Is it OK to exchange and complete on the same day?

Yes, it is. There are lots of property transactions where people exchange and complete on the same day. However, there are positive and negatives to this method of buying a property. The main negative is that if you are physically moving house on the day of completion, you have not entered in to a legally binding contract prior to the moving day and either party can still withdraw from the transaction before contracts have been exchanged, so there is a risk the transaction wont go ahead at all. However, a positive is that the transaction can be completed as soon as you are ready to exchange contracts meaning you do not have to wait to get the keys.

Can a house sale fail after exchange?

Yes, a house sale can still fall through after exchange of contracts. However, it is very unlikely as there is the potential for large financial repercussions for the person pulling out, particularly if the person pulling out is the buyer. For this reason, we do not see many transactions fall through after exchange of contracts.

Visit our Conveyancing Frequently Asked Questions page for more topics.

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