In this brief guide, we are going to discuss some of the most common problems with agreeing on a completion date, why these issues could occur, and what to do about them.

The most common problems when agreeing on a completion date

The most common problems when agreeing on a completion date include:

  • Construction delays (New builds)
  • Renovation delays
  • Property chain
  • Sellers living rent-free
  • Buyer delays

What is the completion date?

The completion date is a date by which the seller hands over the keys to the buyer and an inventory of any fixtures which are to be left at the property is checked. The seller must vacate the property on the completion date and the buyer can now move in.

So at this point, you will have already exchanged contracts and be legally the rightful owner of the property.

This means you are now responsible for the property and liable for the property.

The completion date is usually part of the contractual terms and is legally binding.

Why problems with agreeing on a completion date arise?

Reasons why the seller won’t agree on a completion date

Construction delays (New builds)

If you are buying a new build property off-plan( hence when the property has not been completed yet) then facing problems agreeing on a completion date will be more likely as construction delays are common.

In this case, there is not much you can do but wait.

Renovation delays

If you had agreed that the seller will carry out relevant construction work before you completed the purchase then delays with this work may lead to a delay in agreeing to the completion date.

Again, in this case, there is not much you can do but wait

Property chain

If you are in a property chain then the seller could be waiting for the seller of their new home to move out before they complete on the purchase you have done with them.

This could easily lead to delays with agreeing on a completion date but in this case, you can demand the seller make a firm commitment and move out on that day regardless of the outcome of their own purchase.

Sellers living rent-free

In some cases, sellers will just use any excuse to live rent-free for 1 or 2 weeks extra.

If the seller has no justifiable reason for not agreeing to a completion date then insist they commit to a date.

Reasons why the Buyer is delaying the completion date

Buyer delays

Problems agreeing on a completion date could also arise due to the buyer not being able to get their affairs in order. 

This could be issues such as not being able to find time to complete the move from their current residence or simply a busy schedule.

Another reason why a buyer could be delaying on agreeing on a completion date is if their mortgage has been withdrawn.

Consequences of not agreeing on a completion date on time

By not agreeing on a completion date on time you will essentially have a property that you are now legally liable for but with no access to the property.

This could mean you end up with a squatter problem and potentially have to go to court to evict the current occupiers of the property.

The other main issue is that most mortgage lenders will insist that you have secured home insurance to ensure that the asset is insured right before the exchange of contracts is done.

The current occupiers of the property could be doing things that your insurance will not cover and hence putting the asset at risk and leaving you liable for a mortgage where the underlying asset may be lost at any moment with no means of claiming compensation from your home insurance provider.

What to do when you are having problems agreeing on a completion date?

If the problems agreeing on a completion date persist then you should contact your conveyancer and inform your mortgage lender immediately.

Your conveyancer and mortgage lender will give you guidance on how to deal with any potential upcoming issues.

In this brief guide, we discussed some of the most common problems with agreeing on a completion date, why these issues could occur, and what to do about them.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.