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What Happens on Moving Day?

Also known as completion day, moving day is an exciting time for buyers and sellers. There’s lots of commotion and packing leading up to it, and then everything seems to happen in a whirlwind. But what happens on moving day itself? When do you get the keys? Will the seller still be there? We know you have questions, so we’ll tick off each point below.

Before the moving day

You’ll have agreed on the actual date and time in advance, it can't be a Saturday or Sunday because the banks are closed; most people pick a Friday. It might seem obvious, but for the completion day of a house sale, the seller will need to have moved out of the property. The target time to move out by is usually 12pm, but this can change depending on how big the property chain is. Alternative times and arrangements can be made if both the buyer and seller agree to them, but it does mean that the seller must be totally moved out of the property by whatever time is agreed.

Anything they leave behind should have been agreed to on a fittings and contents form. If you’re worried they’re going to leave items behind that will be inconvenient or costly to dispose of, you should do an inspection on the day. We suggest you organise to be at the property on the day of completion before your solicitor completes with the seller - you will see very clearly if the seller is ready to move or not. If the seller isn't ready, inform your solicitor and they will hold off formally completing with the seller's solicitor until the seller removes their personal possessions from the property. If the seller doesn't do this then they face the costs of failing to complete.

On moving day

Completion day happens in stages, which usually go as follows:

  • You pay the remaining money to the seller’s conveyancer for the house. This is done in the morning, and your conveyancer will let you know when it’s completed.
  • You’ve not legally completed it until the seller’s conveyancer receives the payment, and they’ll let your conveyancer know when that’s happened.
  • The seller’s conveyancer will let the estate agent know to give you the keys and the agent will call you.
  • Both conveyancers will make confirmation calls to let their clients know the sale is finished.
  • The seller leaves the property with their belongings by the agreed date/time and the buyer moves in from then

What can go wrong

If the money is delayed, you can’t actually complete it. The contract will provide for what the parties should do if the funds are later than the agreed time, because it does happen. If it’s just a bit late, completion can still take place on that day, but if it arrives too late, it may be that completion doesn’t happen until the following day, in which case everyone has to make other arrangements. This might mean your removal company putting your belongings into storage and you staying somewhere else, such as in a hotel.

Also, the moving company you (or the seller) use may not turn up. If this looks to be the case, let the estate agent know immediately and make other arrangements. For both parties, it’s a good idea to have alternative arrangements available, like a last-minute van hire and overnight bag. The contracts will detail who is responsible for any costs incurred by a delayed completion, so talk to your conveyancer if this happens. (Don’t have a conveyancer? We can help.)

Moving day checklist

  1. Don’t stay up late the night before. Get plenty of sleep and wear comfy clothes for the move.
  2. Keep your mobile charged and nearby at all times. Have a portable battery pack or charger to hand.
  3. Get a childminder or dog sitter for the day – you won’t want them underfoot.
  4. Inspect the space you’re leaving for any forgotten items. Remember to document the condition of your home now and the new one you’ve bought on arrival.
  5. Have cash to hand for tips and food delivery. You won’t want to cook today.
  6. Have a suitcase of essentials and bring it in the cab with you. Think loo roll, soap, towel, sheets, toothbrush, etc. Assume you won’t find these things if they’re in with everything else.
  7. Greet the removal team and let them know how you have labelled and organised things. This will help them unload quicker. Remember, they are people who get tired, hungry, and thirsty, just like you. Be a good host.
  8. Keep your moving paperwork separate from other important papers. You may need to reference the fittings and contents form if something is left at the property by the seller that shouldn’t have been.
  9. Don’t pack expensive jewellery, birth certificates or other valuables. Keep them with you at all times in your essentials suitcase.
  10. Do a last-minute clean of your vacant property and lock it up tight. Check every door and window (document this if you’re worried about your security deposit).
  11. Before unpacking in your new home, do a quick clean. You won’t see it in this condition again until you move out, so clear any baseboard scuffs or grime-smeared cabinets now.
  12. Wait to meet the neighbours. You’re probably tired and a bit dirty. Now is not the time to make a good first impression. Instead, put away what you can, order some takeaway and watch Netflix on your phone till you fall asleep on the couch. Tomorrow is another day.

It’s hard to think of everything if you don’t make a list, so start with our guidance and create your own moving day checklist. Oh, and if you need expert conveyancing help for your next moving day, get quotes from local conveyancers in minutes here.