Can you exchange contracts without a completion date?

Completion is the final step in the long transactional process of purchasing a property. On a date that has been agreed upon in advance by both the seller and the buyer, completion is carried out. This means the seller receives the full purchase amount and once their solicitors are able to confirm this, the title deeds are transferred to the buyer and they become the new official owner of the property. The seller is required to vacate the property by 1pm of that day. Following this the buyer (the new owner of the property) is handed over the keys and given the green light to move in whenever is most convenient for them. Although it is the final step in the long and complex conveyancing process, completion is arguably the most important step of them all.This is because it is the step in which the buyer becomes the legal owner of the new property and is able to move in and the seller is able to move on to another property.

As it is such an important step both legally and financially, it is absolutely imperative to set a date on which both parties will complete and transfer ownership. To put it quite simply, contracts cannot be exchanged without a completion date. This is because in this type of contract, both parties are entering into a legally binding agreement to transfer the title deeds of the property in question from one to another. The solicitors cannot finalise the contracts without a date being mutually agreed upon and formally written into the contract. Completion is the crux of the contract and without it exchange cannot take place.

Some people do try to exchange contracts without a completion date in an attempt to force through the process at a faster rate. However, as stated above, this is just not possible from a legal standpoint. A completion date needs to be agreed upon in advance of contracts being exchanged so both the buyer’s and the seller’s solicitors can make their final checks and draw up a formal legally binding agreement. The date is decided upon by both parties and is then communicated to their solicitors who will put it into each respective contract and proceed to exchange. The date can be very flexible with the minimum normally expected to be 2 weeks but there are instances when the period between exchange and completion can be up to a year as long as it suits both the buyer’s and seller’s needs. Some people even exchange and complete on the same day and this is an option chosen by those who are looking to buy and move in immediately.

It is also worth noting that contracts cannot be exchanged without a completion date as the presence of this date means that ownership has to be transferred to the buyer on that date at all costs. If either party pulls out or fails to complete they could face serious financial and legal repercussions.

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