How Long Does It Take To Buy A House UK?
Looking at exactly how long it takes to purchase a house, the timeline of the buying process, and how we can make the process easier.
Alexandra Ventress ★ Digital Content Writer
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Purchasing a house is one of the most stressful experiences you can go through, from finding the property you wish to buy, to negotiating asking prices and sorting out conveyancers. So, it is only natural to find yourself wondering ‘how long does it take to buy a house UK?’
In this blog post, we will be looking at exactly how long it takes to purchase a house, the timeline of the buying process and how we can make the process easier.
How long does it take to buy a house UK?
There is no one size fits all answer for this question, but according to research by The Post Office, it takes on average around 6 months to buy a house in the UK in 2022. However, the reality that some house purchases may take longer, or may be shorter than. If you are part of a housing chain, then the purchase will take longer than if you were a chain free buyer.
Timeline for buying a house
As we have mentioned above, the average time it takes to buy a house from start to finish is 6 months. But how exactly is that broken down? This is our timeline, talking you through the various stages and guiding you through the process of buying a house.
Mortgage in principle - 24 hours, once you have approached the lender
The first step is to apply for a mortgage in principle, also known as an agreement in principle. This is an indication of the type of mortgage you may be able to secure when you apply. It is based upon information you provide the lender and is usually valid for anywhere between 30 and 90 days. The time it takes to get a mortgage in principle varies from lender to lender, with some being able to supply you with one in 24 hours. However, in order to do this, you will need to have all of the relevant paperwork handy.
Whilst it may seem early, this is also the time to begin searching for a solicitor as you will need to instruct them as soon as you make an offer on a property. It is always a good idea to make sure that your conveyancer is approved by your mortgage lender to avoid problems further down the line.
Finding the right property and making an offer - a few weeks to a few months
The next step in the process of buying a home is to start looking for the property you wish to purchase. By having your mortgage in principle, you will have an idea of the price range that you will be able to afford. Unfortunately, there is no exact answer for how long you may be looking for a new property. The type of property you are looking for, budget and the wider property market will all have an effect on your search. A house purchase is not a decision to rush into, so it is important to give yourself plenty of time to mull over any decisions.
Once you find a property that you are happy with, it is time to make an offer. You should talk to your conveyancing solicitor about the offer you want to make. Do you want to go above. below or match the asking price? You will need to consider a number of factors when making your offer, such as the time the property has spent on the market, the state of the market and whether there will be other interested buyers.
In order to make your offer, either you or your conveyancer to contact the current owner’s estate agent.
Offer accepted and pre-contract work - 4 to 12 weeks
Congratulations! Your offer has been accepted and now you can really get the ball rolling on your house purchase! During the pre-contract stage of the house buying process, there will be several different things going at once in order for your purchase to progress.
The first will be that you will now be able to turn the mortgage in principle that you obtained earlier on into the process into a real mortgage. Send in the details of the mortgage in principle to your lender, who will then conduct their own valuations on the home to make sure you are paying the right amount and will then send you a concrete mortgage offer within a few weeks.
This is also the stage when the conveyancing process can really begin. Whilst you will have already instructed your conveyancer in order to make an offer, this is when the work really ramps up. Your conveyancer will begin to draft up your contracts along with your seller, their conveyancer, and the Land Registry. It can take anywhere between one week to five in order to make sure your contract is clear and through.
It is also the role of your conveyancer to oversee the property searches and surveys. These surveys are conducted by surveyors and the aim is to find out as much about the property as you can before you buy. These searches will cover whether or not the current owner can legally sell, where the property boundaries are located, planning limitations and environmental risks. Once you are happy with the results of the survey you are ready to move onto the next stage.
Exchange contracts to completion day - 12 weeks
This is one of the most important parts of the house buying process. Once the contracts for your new home have all been drafted, the property searches have all been conducted, and you have secured your mortgage offer you can exchange contracts. This step in the home buying process takes around 20-30 days.
During the exchange of contracts, the buyer and seller’s conveyancing solicitors will swap signed contracts and you will send over your deposit to the solicitor. After the signed contracts have been swapped, the property purchase becomes legally binding.
When you buy a home, as part of the exchanging, a completion day will be set. When the completion date occurs is down to the buyer and seller. It can be anywhere from a few days to a few months away. This is the date when funds will be transferred, and keys handed over.
What happens between exchange and completion?
Whilst the finish line for your house sale is on the horizon, there are still few more steps you will need to do before you can move into your new home. Now that you have exchanged contracts and are legally committed to buying the property, you should look into building insurance. Whilst it is not mandatory to take out building insurance, it helps to protect your property, even if you have not yet moved in.
In the days before completion, you may also need to sign a few more documents. Your conveyancer may need you to sign the transfer deed or completion statement depending on the complexities of your property sale.
The final step you will need to take before completion is to withdraw the funds. Your conveyancer will withdraw the funds from your mortgage lender, ready for the seller on completion day.
Completion date and beyond - 2 weeks
Congratulations! Completion day is finally here! This is the day when the dream becomes a reality, and you can finally move into your new home. In preparation for the big day your solicitor will have transferred the funds and will have they keys to your new home ready and waiting for you.
However, it is not all celebrating. Now that completion day has rolled around, there are still a couple more steps you will need to take before you can fully settle in.
The first thing you will need to do is to pay stamp duty. Stamp duty is a tax that you pay on all property purchases above £250,000. Your conveyancer will be able to inform you of whether or not you have to pay, as well as how much you will owe. Once completion day has passed you will have a limited timescale to pay, so usually your conveyancer will ensure it is paid through them before it is overdue.
The next step will be to ensure that you have registered new ownership with HM Land Registry. Your conveyancer will arrange this for you, but it is worth bearing in mind that depending on the housing arrangement you may have to pay a fee to do this.
After you have registered new ownership of your new property you will need to obtain the title deeds. Once the registration has gone through with the land registry, your conveyancer will have new copies of the title deeds sent over for both you and your mortgage lender.
After this is complete you are good to go! The home-buying process will be over, and you will be the proud owner of a new property.
Completion date and beyond - 2 weeks
Frustrated by long it takes to buy a house? Don’t want to wait 6 months to move into your new home? Then look no further as we have the soloution for you!
When it comes to buying your home, we are a little different to your traditional estate agents. Here at The Property Selling Company, we want to change the way that people buy and sell their homes, providing a less complicated option. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or looking for your next home, we pride ourselves on making the process faster and effortless. When you buy a property through us, you will benefit from our transparent and honest customer service.
Our dedicated team of property experts can help you buy a house in as little as 28 days, from start to completion. We have hundreds of beautiful properties on our website, all of which can be filtered by property size, type, and location. If you can’t find a property that strikes you, feel free to get in touch and contact us. One of our expert consultants would be more than happy to find the right property for you.
When you buy a home through us, we take the weight off your shoulders. We will support you with every step of the process, from finding a property to viewings, to negotiating and solicitors, we are by your side. And as an extra thank you for buying through us, we will cover all fees associated with buying a house, such as solicitors fees.
So, if you are ready to say goodbye to stress and get your next house purchase underway, get in touch with us today!