Delayed completions

Delayed completions are becoming more common

West Sussex remains one of the most sought-after areas of the property market. With limited good quality country homes for sale, either on or off market, this strong demand has meant record prices are often still being achieved.

For many sellers this has created a bit of a dilemma, as they may have sold their house for a great price, but they can’t find somewhere else to purchase. As such, I am frequently seeing delayed property completions at the moment, which is aided by good buyers offering flexibility.

What is a long stop completion?

The completion date is the day a buyer legally pays the remainder of the purchase price to the seller, which enables them to collect the keys and move in. This usually happens approximately one to four weeks after exchanged of contracts has taken place and the seller has to vacate their home within that time frame. With a delayed property completion strategy, this period can be extended – which can benefit both the buyer and the seller if managed properly.

Long stop completions are happening because sellers are feeling worried about how long it may take them to find another house with little stock available. Many of the prime country houses are selling off market, therefore not everybody is aware of them – not unless they’re using a buying agent. There are also sentimental reasons for sellers feeling anxious, particularly older people who are leaving behind a family home they have most likely lived in for a couple of decades if not more.

Benefits to sellers

For sellers, having the time to find something else combined with the assurance that their home has already sold, as contracts have exchanged, puts them in good stead as a buyer – which is very appealing. Sellers may accept a lower price for their home if they can find a buyer willing to wait a while.

And buyers too

For buyers, there are many benefits of a delayed property completion. Firstly, it’s an effective negotiating tool for securing their dream country home for a lower price. It also allows time to seek planning permission from architects and builders for any alterations they plan to make. This is especially true now, as often there are delays with planners and good builders are busy with long waiting times.

For buyers moving from overseas, a delayed property completion is ideal should they wish to secure the house via exchange and then wait until they are back in the UK to complete.

Meanwhile, a buyer has more time to secure the funds from the sale of their own home in order to complete the purchase. It can of course mean that a buyer may have to move into rental accommodation temporarily should their own purchaser wish to move sooner, but I’m finding that for the right house, many are prepared to rent.

For example, a recent client who exchanged in January in the Chichester area has agreed a completion date for late autumn 2024 because the vendors wanted time to find something perfect to buy. By being flexible, this meant their lower offer was accepted over other interested potential buyers.

For more information about buying and selling with a delayed completion strategy, contact specialist buying agent Jennie Hancock on