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How Long Does it Take to Move House?


Written by Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

22nd Nov 2019 (Last updated on 15th May 2024) 6 minute read

The average time it takes to move house is between 12 weeks and 6 months. This depends on a variety of factors that can affect every buyer differently.

The moving house timeline can often seem like a long and difficult affair. From searching for the right home to receiving the keys, the time each step takes can vary greatly. It’s important to compare conveyancers who can professionally aid with any legal issues.

In this guide, Compare My Move takes you through the buying and moving process. This means that you can be as prepared as possible for your move.

  1. 1. Finding the Right Property
  2. 2. Getting a Mortgage
  3. 3. Find a Conveyancer
  4. 4. Property Survey
  5. 5. Exchanging Contracts
  6. 6. Completing the Sale
  7. 7. Moving Day
  8. Factors that Could Delay the Process
  9. Finding a Conveyancer
Time it Takes to Move House

On average, the process takes between 12 weeks and 6 months to buy from start to finish. Here is the breakdown of the time it takes to move house:

Stage in ProcessLength of Time
Finding the Right Property10-12 weeks
Getting a Mortgage
18-40 days
Find a Conveyancer
8-12 weeks
Property Survey
2-3 weeks
Exchanging Contracts
During week 8
Completing the Sale
7-28 days
Moving Day
1-2 days

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1. Finding the Right Property

Finding the right property takes between 10 to 12 weeks on average. Start by setting yourself a budget and sticking to it when researching properties. Most people begin their search by using property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla. However, those interested in local moving can explore the area and view the properties for sale in person.

Those needing a mortgage should obtain a mortgage agreement in principle. This will give you an idea of how much you can borrow. Decide where you'd like to live and look at homes in the area. Once you’ve decided on a property, start negotiating to make a formal offer.

2. Getting a Mortgage

Getting mortgage approval takes between 18 and 40 days on average. You should have chosen a mortgage provider by now to begin the process.

You will need to formally apply for the mortgage on the property in order for the mortgage offer to be approved. Make sure you have important documentation such as payslips and bank statements. This will prevent any delays and give you a better chance of receiving mortgage approval.

You will then have a limited amount of time for which the mortgage offer is valid to complete the purchase. This is usually 3-6 months depending on your lender.

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3. Find a Conveyancer

Finding a conveyancer can take between 8 and 12 weeks from the point the sale is agreed upon. It is one of the most important parts of the moving process.

You’ll need to compare and find a conveyancer to undertake the solicitor process for buying. Again, do your research and compare conveyancers to ensure they are professional and dependable. At Compare My Move, our network of partners is verified and regulated by SRA, CLC, LSS, LSNI, or CILEx.

Take your time to find a verified licensed conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor and they will take care of the buying process for you. The conveyancing process will take longer if you're in a chain than if you're not in a chain. The conveyancing process starts once an offer has been agreed on and ends on completion day.

4. Property Survey

It takes between 2 and 3 weeks for a house survey to be carried out and to receive the results. Once the conveyancing process has begun, you can then book your property survey.

There are different types of surveys you can choose from. A RICS Level 2 HomeBuyer Survey is ideal for properties under 50 years old. It is the cheaper option, but not as thorough or detailed. A RICS Level 3 Building Survey is best for older properties and is highly detailed. However, Building Surveys are more expensive.

It usually takes a couple of weeks for the survey report to be produced and sent to you. When you have received your survey results, send them to your conveyancer so they can check over them.

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5. Exchanging Contracts

The exchange of contracts usually happens during week 8 of the process. The timeframe can vary greatly depending upon a number of factors. These include:

  • Property type
  • Length of the property chain
  • Negative survey results
  • Negative property search results
  • Legal issues that need resolving

The exchange of contracts will happen only once all conveyancers in the chain are ready and hold a signed contract. After the exchange of contracts has been achieved, then a completion date will be set. The buyer's solicitor will then carry out pre-completion searches.

6. Completing the Sale

Completion day tends to take place between 7 and 28 days after the exchange of contracts. Completing the sale means that the transfer of ownership is legally binding.

On completion day, your conveyancer will transfer the final funds to the seller. Once this is done, the property is yours. Having a Completion Day Checklist in place can prevent delays and ensure you are organised.

Read more on: What Happens on Completion Day?

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7. Moving Day

It takes between 1 and 2 days to move house on average. You will usually move in on the day of completion unless your circumstances allow you to move in at a later date. The completion day will have been agreed on beforehand, so you can book your removal company in advance. The seller must move out on this day, to allow the buyer to move in.

You’ll need to factor in packing your belongings, which can be time-consuming. Ideally, it should be done a few days before the completion date, making sure you leave out the essential items you’ll need on the day.

It's useful to have a to do list when moving house. This will help you to keep track of everything that needs to be completed. Unpacking and setting everything up in your new house can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to a few years.

Factors that Could Delay the Process

Delays are a common occurrence during the buying process. There are a variety of factors that can contribute to delays. Here are a few to consider:

  • Lack of preparation
  • The Legal Team
  • Survey Report
  • Property Chain
  • Mortgage approval delay
  • Delay in conveyancing search results
  • Gazumping

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Finding a Conveyancer

At Compare My Move, we can connect you with up to 6 conveyancers to save you up to 70% on your conveyancing costs. All our conveyancing partners have passed our strict verification process for your peace of mind. This means they are all regulated by either the SRA, CLC, LSS, LSNI or CILEx.

Need a Surveyor?

Once you've found a conveyancer, you soon might need the help of a RICS property surveyor. Simply fill in our integrated conveyancing and surveying comparison form to get connected today.

You can compare companies through our integrated conveyancing and surveying form by filling out a few extra steps. We will then connect you with local conveyancers and surveyors to save on the whole process.

Gareth Brooks

Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

Solicitor and Partner, RMNJ Solicitors

With 19 years of experience in the residential conveyancing industry, Gareth Brooks is a partner and head of management for the conveyancing department at RMNJ Solicitors.