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How Long Does it Take to Buy a House From Start to Finish?

Zenyx Griffiths
Written by Zenyx Griffiths
11th March 2019 (Last updated on Friday 15th March 2019)

On average, it can take around 6 months to buy a house. From 12 weeks to 6 months, every buyer has a different experience and a different date they eventually move in. However, there are a variety of factors that could delay the process, such as survey results and the length of the property chain. Your personal experience may vary as there is no definitive answer due to these potential factors.

The process of buying a house 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. Every bit of help you get can be vital to a quick buying process. It’s important to find a reliable and efficient conveyancer who can professionally aid with any legal issues. This guide will take you through a brief timeline of buying a house and how long each step should take on average.

The Process of Buying a House

1. Finding the Right Property 2. Getting a Mortgage 3. Exchanging Contracts 4. Completing the Sale How Long Does it Take to Buy a House with No Chain? Factors that Could Delay the Process How Long Does it Take to Buy a House? Saving Time and Money When Buying a House

1. Finding the Right Property

Set yourself a budget when researching properties. Do the necessary sums to determine what you can afford and by when. Don’t forget to take into account the deposit, stamp duty and other costs. Once this is sorted, you can start house-hunting! The amount of time dedicated to this step can vary depending on location, budget, your local property market, personal preferences and many other factors. On average it can take 10-12 weeks to find the right property for you.

Take your time to find a house that suits your needs. You’ll have to be realistic as not everyone will find their ideal home in their prime location. Some people are more willing to compromise meaning they might find a property more quickly than others, but it all depends on personal preference. Once you’ve decided on a property, start negotiating to make a formal offer.

2. Getting a Mortgage

You should have chosen a mortgage provider by now to begin the process. It may be worth contacting a mortgage broker and getting an Agreement in Principle with a mortgage lender, giving yourself an idea of how much you can borrow to speed up the process.

On average, it generally takes up to a month from filling out the application form to a formal mortgage offer. Check your credit records and ensure it goes more smoothly by having all the important documents required like payslips, bank statements and any other information they may need. 

You’ll need a reliable and qualified conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor for the legal aspects of the purchase to ensure the contracts are as per agreement. Again, do your research and compare conveyancers to ensure they are professional and dependable. It’s also important to hire a chartered surveyor during this step to conduct a survey on the property to ensure that it’s in good condition and is a worthy investment with no frightening or unexpected costs.

3. Exchanging Contracts

This is when the legal aspects of the transaction are revisited and finalised. During this step, your conveyancing solicitor will liaise with the seller’s as well as the Land Registry and the local council. Every legal detail concerning the status of the property, ownership, planning permissions and other issues will be searched and discussed. Your solicitor will be at the forefront of this step so don’t be afraid to communicate any concerns or queries you have with them. They are there to help! 

Once you and the seller have signed and exchanged the contracts you are the legal owner of the property. There is an opportunity for various delays here with the level of important details needed. A misplaced title deed, for example, could easily halt this process. But on average, it can take a month to complete the appropriate searches and exchange contracts.

4. Completing the Sale

At last, we’re at the final stage! Now is the time to pay the deposit and any outstanding solicitor fees. You must set up a Direct Debit once your mortgage is finalised and wait for a date to receive the keys. You’ll want to start contacting removal companies and think about packing, ready for when you can move into your new home. 

On average it can take up to 4 weeks between the time of the contracts being exchanged and the keys received. On the day of completion, your mortgage will begin and the fun of moving begins!

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

A ‘property chain’ is the number of property purchases linked together with each one being dependent on the other transactions. 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 does not need to buy a house before selling this one. New build properties are ‘chain-free’ as they have never been occupied.

The steps to buying a ‘no chain’ house are the same as usual, but there is a lower chance of delays as your purchase is not dependant on the seller first buying or organising a separate property. The process can be sped up greatly with no chain. Every move is different, but a no chain property can considerably increase the speed of the buying process and allow it to proceed more efficiently.

Factors that Could Delay the Process

From the lack of preparation to a large property chain, there are a variety of factors that can delay the process of buying a house. These are just a few to consider:

  • Preparation: Always ensure you have a budget before making an offer to ensure that you’re able to pay the deposit and any related fees when the time comes.
  • The Legal Team: Whether you’re hiring a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor, you must ensure that they're qualified and reliable. If they’re experienced, they will work quickly and efficiently lowering the risk of delays.
  • Survey Report: Delays are likely if the survey highlights serious issues or structural damage. Bad survey results can also lead to the buyer pulling out of the purchase if the property is determined to be a bad investment.
  • Property Chain: A large property chain can lead to a range of disruptions. The larger the chain, the more likely there will be delays. If one of the transactions in the link is delayed, often yours will be too.
  • Gazumping: If a higher offer is given to the seller before any contracts are signed, it may delay or even terminate your purchase. You’re not the legal owner until contracts are signed and exchanged, so an alternative offer could be considered.

How Long Does it Take to Buy a House?

Assuming there are no delays, it’ll take an average of 6 months to buy a house. With 12 weeks being spent on finding the right property, a month acquiring a mortgage, a month to exchange contracts and finalise the legal aspects, the final 4 weeks will then be spent completing the sale until you receive the keys.

No chain properties may have a quicker process but after each step is complete, the fun begins and you can move in, making your new house a home!

Saving Time and Money When Buying a House

Time is precious when buying a house. Compare My Move can connect you with up to 4 fully regulated licensed conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors to make the process easier and more efficient for you.