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Buying or selling a home in the UK is a significant milestone, filled with anticipation and excitement. However, the journey from agreeing to buy or sell to the moment you can call the property yours is paved with several critical steps. Two of the most important stages in this process are the exchange of contracts and completion. While these stages signify the home stretch of property transactions, the period between them can be fraught with potential pitfalls. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what can go wrong between exchange and completion, offering insights and solutions to help you navigate this tricky phase smoothly. And remember, with Contend, you’re never alone in your legal journey. Our AI-powered legal assistance is designed to simplify complex legal processes, providing you with the guidance you need, when you need it.

Understanding the Exchange and Completion Process

Before delving into the potential problems, let’s briefly outline what exchange and completion involve. The exchange of contracts is the moment when both buyer and seller are legally committed to the transaction. At this point, backing out comes with severe financial penalties. Completion, on the other hand, is when the transaction is finalized: the buyer pays the remaining balance, and the keys are handed over.

The Waiting Game: Time Between Exchange and Completion

Typically, the period between exchange and completion can range from a few days to several weeks, depending on the agreement between the parties involved. This gap allows for the necessary administrative tasks to be completed but also opens the door to various issues.

During this waiting period, it’s essential to stay informed about the process. You can find valuable information on renting out your home on the GOV.UK website.

What should I do if issues arise between exchange and completion?

Potential Pitfalls: From Exchange to Completion

Financial Hurdles

One of the most common problems that can arise involves financial arrangements. For buyers, this might mean delays in mortgage funding due to last-minute checks by lenders or unexpected changes in financial circumstances. Sellers, on the other hand, may face difficulties if their onward purchase is dependent on funds from the sale, creating a chain reaction of delays.

To ensure your financial arrangements are in order, it’s crucial to refer to The Financial Services Register by the FCA at www.fca.org.uk.


To mitigate financial risks, ensure all your financial arrangements are in order well before the exchange. Regular communication with your mortgage provider and legal team can help identify and address any potential issues early on.

Property Issues

Even after contracts are exchanged, unexpected problems related to the property can emerge. These might include discovering that the property has been damaged since the exchange, or issues arising from the final property inspection.


Buyers should consider conducting a final walk-through of the property before completion. This allows any issues to be identified and resolved beforehand. Sellers should maintain the property’s condition post-exchange and keep insurance in place until completion.

Legal and Administrative Delays

The legal process between exchange and completion is complex, involving the transfer of funds, the preparation of legal documents, and liaising with various parties. Delays can occur due to incomplete paperwork, slow responses from local authorities, or issues in the property chain.


Choose a proactive and communicative legal team. Contend’s AI-driven legal assistance can streamline this process, ensuring all your paperwork is in order and keeping you updated on your transaction’s progress.

Chain Issues

Many property transactions in the UK are part of a chain, where multiple sales and purchases are interconnected. If one transaction in the chain encounters problems, it can delay or even derail the entire chain.

To navigate through chain-related issues, it’s important to stay informed and seek support from your estate agent and solicitor. They can update you on the chain’s status and guide you through any challenges that may arise.

How can I avoid delays in my property transaction?
Housing: what can go wrong between exchange and completion

Contend: Your Partner in Smooth Property Transactions

At Contend, we understand the complexities of the UK’s property market. Our AI-powered legal assistance is designed to offer you personalized, expert guidance throughout your property transaction. From addressing financial concerns to navigating legal paperwork and chain issues, Contend simplifies the process, making it easier for you to move from exchange to completion with confidence.

Conclusion: Safeguarding Your Property Transaction

While the journey between exchange and completion can be fraught with potential pitfalls, being aware of these issues and preparing for them can significantly mitigate risks. With the right support and guidance, you can navigate this critical phase smoothly and move one step closer to your new home or successful sale.

Remember, with Contend, you’re not just getting legal assistance; you’re getting peace of mind. Chat now with Contend’s legal expert and take the first step towards a hassle-free property transaction.

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This material is for general information only and does not constitute
tax, legal or any other form of advice. You should not rely on any
information contained herein to make (or refrain from making) any
decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your
own particular situation. Contend Inc is not regulated by the
Solicitor’s Regulation Authority.