Whether you are a first-time buyer or want to make a change from your current home to accommodate life changes and circumstances, you are probably wondering, “How long does it take to buy a house?” The answer is both simple… and remarkably complex. It depends. On what? What can you expect as you go forward? Let’s dig in and see.
Short answer: It takes an average of three to six months to buy a house in the UK at this time. Remember that this is only an average, and many sales are either faster or much slower. When you are planning your own sale, it is important to consider the many variables that influence the length of the process.
Let’s break down the steps involved so you can get a better sense of the timeline.
Finding the Right House
Sometimes, you find the right property immediately. Other times, it takes a bit longer. Thus, we will not “count” it in our timeline. All the same, though, it is an essential step. This can take a day, a week, a month… or longer. But it is the first move you make towards your home.
Securing a Mortgage Agreement in Principle and Mortgage
Good news here: Obtaining a mortgage agreement in principle is usually a streamlined process. Typically, you can arrange this within one day. Remember, a mortgage agreement in principle, or AIP, is not the same as a guaranteed mortgage. Lenders conduct a preliminary search of your finances to determine a ballpark that you qualify for in terms of a mortgage. Still, it is a critical step as it indicates to sellers that you are serious and have the capacity to complete a transaction.
When you make an offer, it is time to reach out to the lender for a mortgage. This will be contingent upon the results of the surveys. The timeframe for this is between three to six weeks.
Having an experienced conveyancer or solicitor on your team is important when buying a house. You can do it yourself, but the process is full of complexities and legalities that can trip you up. You want to make sure every aspect is conducted properly. This part of the sales process can take two to three months.
Technically speaking, you can buy a property without surveys. However, it is strongly recommended that you do not skip this step. At this stage, the surveyor will inspect the property; they may uncover issues that impact the value – and the listing price. For example, there may be leaks in the roof, faulty or outdated wiring, subsidence or other problems of which you need to be aware.
Depending on the surveyor and the types of surveys you instruct, you are looking at a time frame of two to three weeks.
After surveys and searches are complete, you are certainly making good progress. It is up to you, with input from your lender and insurance company, to decide if any issues uncovered during this step are acceptable. If serious problems are present, your lender and/or insurer may not finance or cover this property. They may be amenable to negotiations, so, should the seller address the issues, you may proceed. This can be a tense period and negotiations may be necessary.
Your timeline? It can be weeks to get these issues ironed out if there are problems. If all is to plan, you can proceed to exchange contracts quickly.
Exchange of Contracts
Till this point, any offer or agreement is non-binding. Either you or the seller can walk away without consequence. When you exchange contracts, the agreement becomes legally binding. If you pull out, or if the seller does, there will be legal and financial penalties.
Usually, the exchange of contracts occurs about 14 days before completion but can take up to 28 days.
Completion and Moving Day
This is it! You are there. On this day, the deal will be finalised, fees paid, funds transferred and keys handed over. Completion and moving days can take 24 hours, but moving may take longer if that is provided for in the contract.
If all goes well, you could be home within a few months of finding the perfect property.