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How Long Does it Take to Sell a House?

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

8th Jul 2019 (Last updated on 8th Jul 2021) 7 minute read

On average, it can take between 2-6 months to sell a house depending on your personal circumstances.  

There is no definitive answer for how long it takes to sell a house as every property is different and you are reliant upon both your own personal circumstances and those of your buyer, which may may differ greatly.   

Compare My Move have created this guide to outline the steps involved with selling a house to provide you with a basic timeline of the process. It can often seem like a long and difficult affair and that’s why every bit of help and research can be vital. Don’t forget to compare conveyancing solicitors so that they can professionally aid you with the legal process, potentially cutting down the overall length of time.

The Process of Selling a House
  1. 1. Putting Your Property on the Market
  2. 2. Receiving and Accepting an Offer
  3. 3. The Conveyancing Process
  4. 4. Exchanging Contracts
  5. 5. Completion Day
  6. How Long Does it Take to Sell a House?
  7. Factors That Could Delay the Process
  8. How Long Does it Take to Sell a House with No Chain?
  9. Next Steps of Selling a House

1. Putting Your Property on the Market

It can take anywhere from 24-72 hours to put your property on the market. 

The first step to take when selling a house is putting it up for sale 'on the market', often by using an estate agent to help. They will advertise the property for sale and arrange viewings. They will need to take detailed photographs of the property. Once the photographs have been taken and uploaded to the system, it can take as little as 24 hours for the property to be advertised for sale and officially placed on the market. 

This could possibly be delayed depending on how long it takes the Energy Performance Certificate and other paperwork to be completed. However, the actual time will depend upon how efficient your estate agent is. 

This is also when you should start considering the asking price and how much you'll want to sell the property for. For further helpful reading, take a look at our article on the best tips for selling your home. 

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2. Receiving and Accepting an Offer

It can take around 8-12 weeks to receive and accept an offer on the house. 

The next stage of selling a house is receiving and accepting an offer. The time it will take will depend upon a number of factors including the type of property, the price and the local market. 

On average, it can take around 12 weeks after the property is placed on the market for an offer to be forthcoming for you to consider. There is also the issue of gazumping which can affect the length of the process. However, the precise time-frame for the sale to be agreed will depend upon your individual circumstances and the type of property you are selling. 

Once you have accepted an offer, the estate agent will draw up a Memorandum of Sale which although is not legally binding, is essential to the selling process. 

3. The Conveyancing Process

The conveyancing process can take between 8-12 weeks after the sale has been agreed.

Once the sale is agreed, you should appoint a conveyancing solicitor and get to work on completing the necessary forms for the conveyancing process. Don't forget to compare quotes to ensure you find a conveyancer who is professional and within your budget. It’s important to find someone like our Compare My Move partners who are regulated, insured and are fully qualified. 

Your conveyancer should guide you through the conveyancing process and should be willing to answer any questions you may have. The next stage you need to get to is 'exchanging contracts'.

4. Exchanging Contracts

Exchanging contracts usually happens during week 8 of the conveyancing process.

The time-frame can vary greatly depending upon several factors, such as the type of property, the length of the property chain, adverse survey results, adverse property search results or legal issues to resolve. The exchange of contracts will happen only once all conveyancers in the chain are ready and hold a signed contract.

Once exchange of contracts has been achieved, then a completion date will be set. You’ll want to start contacting removal companies and think about packing, ready for when you can move out.

5. Completion Day

Completion day is usually between 7 and 28 days after the date of exchange of contracts.

This is the final step of the process.

When exchange of contracts is achieved, a legal completion date will have been agreed and set. The transaction is now legally binding and the ownership of the property has been changed.

On the completion day the buyer’s conveyancer will transfer the final funds to your conveyancer and the sale will be legally completed once they have been received. You'll have to pay your solicitor fees for selling a house prior to completion day.

Completion day will be the date that you will need to move out and allow the buyer to move in. It’s always wise to compare removal companies and find the best one suited to you and your budget. Whether you’re moving in or out, Compare My Move’s got you covered, saving you both time and money on moving day.

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How Long Does it Take to Sell a House?

It takes about 6 months to sell a house, from start to finish. With a couple of days spent on placing your property on the market, 12 weeks to go through viewings and accept an offer, the conveyancing process will then take between 8 and 12 weeks with completion day happening between 7 and 28 days after exchanging contracts.

Everyone’s experience is different and so it’s important to note that your personal circumstances will often alter the time taken. For example, depending on whether you are going to court, the time it takes to sell may increase when selling a house after a divorce.

Factors That Could Delay the Process

From the asking price to the condition of the property, there are a variety of factors that could delay the process of selling a house. To help you prepare in advance, here are a few things to consider that could potentially delay the sale of your property:

  • The Asking Price - Whether it’s over or under-priced, the asking price can always be something to discourage potential buyers. It doesn’t take much research to compare your house to other properties in the area. 
  • If the Property is in Poor Condition - It’s always recommended to clean and spruce up your property before viewings commence. It needs to look homely for buyers to consider it. If there are obvious issues with the structure or interior, then this will delay the process even further until the right buyer comes along. 
  • Area - It's out of your control but an area with poor public transport, poor schools or high crime rates can be a negative factor. 
  • Property Chain - Unless you’re dealing with a first-time buyer, it’s likely that your buyer will also be selling their previous property. You may also be waiting to purchase a house and move in before selling which can also cause delays. The longer the property chain, the more difficult it can be to have a quick property sale
  • Buyer Issues - Whether it’s because of bad survey results, an issue with the price, or something else, there's a chance your buyer  could pull out of the sale. There could also be issues with the buyer's mortgage or conveyancing process, which can also cause delays. 

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How Long Does it Take to Sell a House with No Chain?

A ‘property chain’ is a number of property transactions linked together with each one being dependent on the other. For example, a first-time buyer will only be purchasing a property, not selling, and so the chain would begin with them.

When a property is referred to as having ‘no chain’ or is ‘chain-free’ the seller will not need to buy another house after selling this one. New build properties are ‘chain-free’ as they have not previously been occupied.

The conveyancing process for selling a property that has no chain is still the same, but as there are less people involved the time-frame is usually quicker. Every transaction is different, but a chain free property purchase can be more straightforward and possibly cut the length of time down.

Next Steps of Selling a House

This has been part of our selling a house guide. Once you have a better understanding of the selling timeline, you can start to look at the value of your house. In the next article we look at how to value your house before putting it up for sale. To learn more read how much is your house worth.

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.

Gareth Brooks

Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

Solicitor and Partner at RMNJ Solicitors, 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.