What is Completion and Possession in Real Estate?


Completing your Real Estate Purchase

May has been a busy month for myself and my clients – I have a good number of clients completing on a purchase they made a few weeks to a few months ago, and I’ve had a few ask in the days leading up to their move in, what happens on the completion and possession day? First of all, if you’re asking this question because you’ve bought a new home – Congrats! You’re almost officially a home owner. Second of all, the answer is not much! All the preparation you’ve done in the previous few weeks has lead to these moments, so there won’t be much for you to do.

What is Completion Day?

Completion Day is the day that the money and the ownership of the property officially transfers hands. A few days before the Completion day, you’ll meet with your Lawyer or Notary who will prepare all the transfer documents, including the Statement of Adjustments (making small monetary adjustments for certain costs, like pre-paid taxes), the Transfer of Title documents, your Mortgage information, etc. At this time, you’ll also provide your Lawyer with the remaining amount of the funds needed to complete the sale, namely, your down payment.

Upon the Completion Day, the Lawyer will send the total purchase funds (your down payment + mortgage) to the Seller’s Lawyer and then will submit the all transfer documents to the Land Title Office to officially change the ownership of that particular property to you.

What do you have to do on Completion Day? Nothing! You’ll just have to wait for the Lawyer to tell you that the transfer is complete.

What is Possession Day?

Possession Day is the exciting day – it’s the day that you finally get the keys for your new property! The Possession Date is one day after the Completion Day in order to give the transaction a buffer zone in case the Land Title Office is swamped and doesn’t have time to complete the file on time. We don’t want eager Buyers waiting outside of their new property with a moving truck to learn that they won’t get the keys that day because the transfer wasn’t able to complete. Thus, the Possession Date is always one day after Completion.

On the Possession Day, you’ll meet your Realtor at the property for a final walk through to ensure that everything is as it should be (i.e. appliances are working, and the property is in good condition). The Contract will state the time of day that you’ll get the keys (typically at 12pm), which means you can view the property anytime after. After that, it’s time to start unloading the moving truck!

Tips for your Possession Day:

  • Think about booking a moving company, rather than your friends, for the big move. The moving company will be efficient and will have all the necessary tools, support and cushioning to ensure it’s a smooth transition
  • If you live in a Strata Complex, remember to book the elevator with the Property Manager.
  • If a clean slate is important to you, plan to bring in cleaners to clean the vacant unit before moving your things in. At the end of the day, it should only be a few hundred dollars.
  • Plan in advance to have the Telus/Shaw cable and internet crew to come through as soon as possible after completion
  • If you’re planning on painting the unit, re-doing the floors, or other small jobs, plan to do that before moving your things in to make it easier for the tradesmen
  • Have some cold beer or champagne on hand to celebrate!
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