Contract exchange and completion when buying a home

After you accept your mortgage offer, the agreement between you and the seller is not official until the contract exchange. That being said, either you or the seller can still pull out from buying or selling the house. 

But when you get to the stage where all parties exchange contracts, it is the end of the negotiation stage. 

Once all parties get to the contract exchange stage, you will potentially be in breach of the contract if you decide to withdraw from the transaction. In this post, we will guide you through the process of contract exchange and completion for a house sale. 

The Guide to Contract Exchange and Completion When Buying a Home

When you buy a house, and you get to the contract exchange stage, it takes around a week to get to the completion stage. Both buyer and seller have a say in deciding the completion date, so make sure you know when you will propose to complete the transaction after exchanging contracts. 

The period sometimes takes a little longer if you purchase it through a property chain. However, the transaction could be faster if you buy a house with no chain. 

So, what do you need to do during this contract exchange and completion stage when buying a home? Here we go!

1. Check all the requirements before the contract exchange.

The contract exchange in the house sale is legally binding, so the first thing that you need to consider is the legal implication if you bail after this stage. 

As a buyer, at this stage, you need to make sure that the house you’re aiming to buy is the one that checks all the categories in your dream house. Double check for the house if you have to, so you can be certain that you want to go ahead with the contract exchange to complete the transaction. 

At this point, you also need to make sure that you can afford to pay for the mortgage deposit on top of getting the mortgage offer in writing to proceed. Once it’s all set, you can also check some of the requirements you need to do before exchanging contracts, including: 

  • Check the contract draft with your solicitor and do the final revision before signing and returning it to the seller. 
  • Work closely with your solicitor to ensure you understand all the legal terms implied in the contract. 
  • Make sure to include all the transactions in the written contract to avoid any misunderstanding due to double implications. 
  • Check with your seller to see if they require a holding deposit before exchanging the contracts. 


After you’ve checked all the necessities, you can double-check with your solicitor before proceeding to the next stage: contract exchange. 

2. Protect yourself with insurance.

Buying insurance when you buy a house is sometimes overlooked, as homebuyers usually only start looking at insurance once they complete the transaction. However, you also need to take into account that anything could happen before the contract exchange when buying a home. 

In order to protect yourself from any additional costs involved when buying a house, you can consider getting yourself insurance for home buyers’ protection. Suitable for first-time homebuyers, house sales may not be as straightforward as other transactions. 

Based on the survey conducted by Quick Move Now, almost 27% of property purchases in the UK fell through for various reasons last year. Getting a home buyers’ protection insurance could be worthwhile if you want to be covered if the house sale falls through. 

Especially as a first-time home buyer, you need to consider a few factors that could lead to financial loss when buying a house. These include when: 

  • Your offer gets gazumped by a better offer. 
  • The necessary repair work is worth more than 10% of the property’s value. 
  • The mortgage lender’s valuation is lower than the initial offer. 

3. Proceed with the contract exchange.

The solicitor will provide the legal document to sign. The contract will cover the standard terms, including: 

  • The details of both parties, the buyer and seller’s side.
  • The details of the property. 
  • The agreed price, deposit, and other conditions regarding the transaction. 


You will have a chance to look over the contract before you sign it, and the lawyer will read it out loud to make sure that both the buyer and the seller understand what it says.

During this stage, you can ask questions to avoid any misunderstanding. Remember, you can’t back out of completing the purchase once you sign it. So, be sure to know what the contract entails and understand it before signing. 

4. Set a date for completion. 

After the contract exchange, the lender will only release the money for the solicitor to forward to the seller. The purchasing process is complete once the seller receives the payment, but the final stage will be the completion stage which occurs when you get the key to your new house. 

Once the transaction is completed, solicitors from the buyer and seller sides will create the completion statement to highlight all the payments made and received by both parties. At this stage, the buyer can already move to the property. 

Whether you want to move immediately or take some time to plan out your moving process, it’s ideal for planning your move accordingly. Some homebuyers will already start packing on the days between the contract exchange and the completion date, and some others choose to move slowly after the completion date. 

There is no right or wrong in this formula, as moving itself can be stressful, so it’s always recommended to plan ahead. Start packing, or hire a house removal company to fasten the preparation so you can immediately start feeling at home in your new house.



A contract exchange in a house sale is the legally binding stage between buyer and seller. It can take around one to two weeks until the completion date when the buyer can officially move to their new house. 

During this period, the homebuyer can also start planning their house removal activities from packing, long-distance removals, or storage solutions if needed. Which Removals helps you through your moving experience with full insurance and a 24-hour free cancellation. Get an instant ballpark price for our house removal service here, whether you want to move on or after the scheduled completion date!