How Long Does It Take To Buy A House?

How long is a piece of string? In an ideal world, a house sale could be as little as two weeks from offer to exchange, but in our experience the average is closer to three to six months, depending on whether you’re in a chain or not.

We thought we’d take a look at each stage of the process and the factors that can speed up or slow down your house purchase.

The property search

This really is an open ended time commitment. Some people just walk past a rose framed cottage with a “For Sale” sign one day and decide it’s their perfect home. On the other hand, you may be looking for a family home for five children the grandparents and a pony in a city centre location, which could mean a bit of a wait.

Much of your search can be done online these days but a good estate agent should know the area you’re interested in and can help scour it for the property with all the features you need - whether that’s a lawn for the kids, a garage for your classic car or a cellar for your wine!

Putting in the offer

It helps if both sides are upfront from the start and you tell the seller what you're willing to pay, keeping bartering to a minimum. Again, this is a bit of an open-ended process but both sides tend to tire quickly if there’s too much toing and froing and you get the sense that the other party isn’t serious.

The conveyancing survey

Great – your offer is accepted. Now you need to get a survey to check the property's condition. However, the result of the structural survey is likely to delay purchase if a serious problem is highlighted. Remedial building or even abandoning the purchase may be necessary.

Your solicitor, in the meantime, is checking any legal issues, depending on whether the house is freehold or there’s a lease involved. If you have your team all ready to go by this stage, you will save time.

The exchange

Assuming the survey comes up clean, this is when you pay your deposit and you commit legally to completing he deal. It’s impossible to say exactly how long the legal work involved in buying a property takes, but from having an offer accepted to exchange of contracts can take from no time at all to as much as seven weeks, so the average is about four.

It’s important to get all finances, insurance policies and solicitors all in place at the early stages to minimise any hold ups.

The completion

You hand over the rest of the cash in exchange for the keys and deeds. From exchange to completion can take up to four weeks. The property is now yours!

Top Tips for avoiding unnecessary delays

A simple sale with no chain shouldn’t last more than three months, while sales involving chains can take up to twice as long, as the knock on effects of someone else’s problem ripple along the chain.

Here are five tips to help you hurry the whole process along:

1) If you’re in a chain, establish a completion date as soon as possible for all parties to work to; include it in the initial negotiations.

2) Check all the relevant property searches are up to date and you have an estate agent and solicitor in place.

3) Avoid understaffed, smaller practices if you don’t want delays.

4) Don’t rely on the agent to do all the communicating. If an urgent problem arises, arrange a meeting with the seller to discuss it. This personal approach seem much less confrontational than a letter from your solicitor.

5) Don’t be afraid to chase up your solicitor to make sure they’ve received important documents. Staying involved makes you feel more in control.

We are on your side

You may wonder sometimes what the estate agent, surveyor and solicitor do for their fees, apart from making the house purchasing process more lengthy! But if you do experience a delay, please remember that it’s in nobody’s interest and the solicitors and surveyors are often stretched.

This is the most important purchase you’ll ever make, so time taken at this stage, dotting every i and crossing every t, is time well spent and could save you lots more time and money down the line.

If you’d like some honest, independent advice about the housing market in the Abingdon area, from a local estate agent please contact Simpsons of Abingdon or ring 01235 520079. We’d be happy to help.