What Happens If Completion Is Delayed?

Tuesday 6th December 2022

In the house buying process, completion is the point at which you can breathe a sigh of relief. It’s the moment that the house becomes yours, once all the searches have come back, any outstanding enquiries have been answered, and your mortgage has been agreed and delivered. The completion day will be a fixed date which will have been agreed once your exchange takes place. So what happens if completion is delayed?

There are many different reasons for delayed completion. It may be that your seller needs more time to find themselves a property, perhaps you’re buying a new build or rental property that you’re waiting to move into, or are waiting on planning permission. Whilst delayed completion is often unavoidable, these are some of the issues that it may cause:

Unexpected Costs For The Seller

If you’re selling your home, you’re likely to be wondering what happens if completion is delayed by your buyer. The main risk of delayed completion for the seller is unexpected costs. The seller is legally obligated to ensure that the property is in the same state on the day of completion as it was when contracts were exchanged. The longer the delay between exchange and completion, the higher the chance that costly maintenance or repair issues may arise. The seller will be responsible for paying for the work that needs to be done.

The Seller May Change Their Mind

Another concern about what happens if completion is delayed for buyers, is that the seller may change their mind. This is only a small risk due to the fact the exchange of contracts binds both parties to the sale. However, if the buyer causes significant or unreasonable delays then the seller may try to change their mind and return the deposit. 

The Buyer’s Mortgage Offer May Expire

If the completion date is significantly delayed then there is potential that the buyer’s mortgage offer may have expired, for example if the property’s value has changed during the period of delay. This will delay the sale further as the buyer will need to take the time to put in a new mortgage application. 

A Lower Deposit May Be Required

Some of the biggest concerns regarding what happens when completion is delayed are the financial implications. As we mentioned a moment ago, one financial risk for the seller is that they may end up putting their hand in their pocket for unexpected maintenance costs. Another financial risk with delayed completion is that a lower deposit may need to be agreed, which may be as low as 5%. 

What To Do If Completion Is Delayed

We’ve discussed the risks regarding what happens if completion is delayed, but what steps should you take if a delay arises? If completion is delayed, your first step should be to communicate with your solicitor who will be able to advise you on the next steps to take. It’s important that both seller and buyer are on the same page in order to decrease the risk of the sale falling through. If you need to go into temporary rented accommodation whilst waiting to move into your new property, you can use short term storage solutions to help organise and secure your belongings. 

At Hackworthy, we understand that there can be complications and delays in the moving process. That’s why our removals service comes with a cancellation waiverthat enables you to cancel at short notice without paying a fee - you can even cancel the day before your planned moving date if necessary. If you’d like to hear more about our removal services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.