What to Consider when Choosing a Target Completion Date

15 November 2018

During the process of buying or selling a home, you will be asked to suggest a target completion date. This is the date on which the transaction will complete and ownership of the property will legally be transferred from the seller to the buyer. The target completion date will often be discussed when an offer is accepted.

Interestingly the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government – who are keen to speed up completion times – last week stated that it currently takes an average of 19 weeks from acceptance to completion.

The seller will be required to vacate the property on the completion day, usually in the morning if the buyer chooses to move in on this day. There are often serious logistics involved in moving house and as such there are a lot of things to think about when choosing your target completion date. We've put together some guidance to help you make sure you've thought of everything.

When Will I Be Asked to Pick a Target Completion Date?

The buyer and seller of a property may be asked if they have a target completion date in mind at any stage of the Conveyancing process. There is no pressure to provide a definitive answer – if you don't have a preferred date in mind then you can simply say this. The purpose of providing a target completion date is to give both sides an idea of what the other is aiming for, so that everyone's on the same page.

The seller will also be asked to suggest target completion dates on the Property Information Form. Again, this is not binding and it isn't set in stone, but it will give the buyer an idea of the seller's timeframes.

As the Conveyancing process progresses, the buyer and seller may be asked to suggest new target completion dates. Towards the later stages of the Conveyancing process the Conveyancers on both sides will be able to provide a more realistic estimation of when the transaction could feasibly complete.

The completion date does not become set in stone until exchange of contracts. The completion date will be stated on the contracts and at the point of exchange, when this date becomes legally binding.

What to Consider when Choosing a Target Completion Date

Regardless of whether you are the buyer or the seller of the property, it's likely that you'll have a lot on your plate on completion day.

If the property in question isn't your home or you're not part of a chain, then you may simply be able to pick up or drop off the keys and that's that. However, for anyone who is buying or selling their main residence, completion day is likely to be far more hectic than that.

You will want to ensure that you have the whole day set aside, with no other commitments, and some time before and after the date to sort out all of the associated admin.

Here are some of the main things to think about:

1. Packing up Your Life

Don't wait until the day before completion to take stock of everything you own. As soon as you start thinking about moving, it's a good idea to clear out those cupboards, get up in the loft and sort through the garage to assess just how much stuff you own. It's always more than you think it is!

Start clearing out unwanted items as early as possible so that you're only taking things with you that you really need, and make sure that you allow yourself plenty of time to do this. If your loft is piled high with junk that needs to be meticulously sorted through over the course of a month, then you'll want to factor this in when selecting your target completion date.

2. Helpers

If you're planning on calling in the help of friends and family, then it's wise to pick a date when you know they will be available to help. Ask around early on in the Conveyancing process to see if there are any dates to avoid, such as holidays.

3. Removals Company / Van Hire

You may be planning to book a removals company to help you shift everything from A to B, or you may be hiring a van and doing the heavy lifting yourself. Either way, it's a good idea to speak to a few companies early on to get an idea of availability.

Some companies will be booked up a few weeks in advance in which case it's no good calling them a couple of days before you complete. Knowing what their availability looks like in advance could help to inform your target completion date.

This is also another element that will be helped by you taking stock of your possessions early on, so that you know exactly how much stuff you'll actually be moving!

4. Cleaning

It's likely that you'll be very busy packing and then unpacking on either side of the completion day. For this reason, many movers book cleaners to give either the house they're selling or the house they're buying a thorough once over.

As with the removals companies, you'll want to speak to some companies to see how far you'll need to book in advance, so that you can align this with your target completion date.

5. Making Your Home Liveable

If you are buying a home that needs a serious amount of TLC, then you may want to speak to tradesmen in advance so that you can make the space habitable as quickly as possible after completion.

This is another point to consider when thinking about completion dates, as you might want to align the completion of the purchase with their availability, otherwise you could find yourself in an uninhabitable property for the first few weeks!

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