What is the timeline for buying a house in the UK? We often get this question from both first-time buyers and people moving on from their current home, so we’ll try and outline the process in this article.
Before we go over the timeline, here’s a simple answer to the question in the title: it can take between 3 and 6 months to buy a house in the UK right now, and it can even vary beyond this broad estimate. There are many variables in the process that affect how long it takes to buy a UK property. Read on to follow the various stages of the process and get an idea of what’s in store should you decide to buy.
Finding the right home
This fundamental step is likely to be the one that has the biggest impact on your unique timeline. As it is so idiosyncratic, we won’t include it as part of the timeline. Of course, it is an extremely important step of the process, but we couldn’t possibly give you an idea of how long it will take.
Some people are fortunate enough to find their ideal home the first time they look, either by searching a property portal or visiting an estate agent. Others find it takes much longer to zero in on the right home. It largely depends on where you want to be – an area with many properties for sale is more likely to have what you’re after than one with fewer homes on the market.
Securing a mortgage
This, then, is the first step of the property buying timeline. You need to get a mortgage.
Agreeing a mortgage in principle is a very swift process – it can usually be done within 24 hours. Once things get serious, however, the process of being offered a full mortgage will take much longer.
If you want to minimise the length of time this process takes, it helps to have everything prepared upfront. Get all the required paperwork together as lenders sometimes do the unexpected and request further documentation once your application is submitted. Think Plutus can help with getting everything in order and submitting your application correctly to make things proceed without a hitch.
Timescale for mortgage acceptance: 3 to 6 weeks
When you are buying a property, you will need a trustworthy solicitor on hand to carry out the conveyancing process on your behalf. This work can be done by the purchaser, but it is more prudent to leave this complex task to an experienced professional.
There are many ways to find a good solicitor to handle your conveyancing. With the help of the internet, it has never been simpler to learn what others have to say about the firms that make your shortlist. It can be helpful to ask your estate agent for recommendations at this stage – they will have lots of experience dealing with solicitors, so they are well-placed to offer guidance.
Timescale for conveyancing: 2 to 3 months
Carrying out a survey
It is technically possible to purchase a property without having a survey carried out in some instances, but this is an extremely reckless move. Bringing in a surveyor may feel like another big expense, but the consequences of making a mistake are grave, so it would be unwise to skip this step.
The timeline varies depending on the type of survey you want and the surveyor you work with. Once you receive the full report, it is wise to pass it on to the conveyancing solicitor for scrutiny. Think Plutus can advise on the types of survey available and how to choose a good surveyor.
Timescale for property survey: 2 to 3 weeks
When you reach this stage, you are approaching the business end of the question “how long does it take to buy a house?”
All the crucial searches have been carried out, your mortgage is secured, and the survey has made sure that the property in question is in good condition. It now falls to the two parties’ solicitors to exchange documents to signify an agreement.
This stage usually takes place a couple of weeks before the sale is completed but, in some cases, it can be as long as 4 weeks before or as short as the very same day! The circumstances of the buyer and seller, as well as the agreement reach during the conveyancing process, are the determining actors of this timescale.
Again, Think Plutus can provide a more detailed explanation of the process of exchanging contracts to keep you in the know.
Timescale for exchanging contracts: typically ~14 days before completion, but can range from ~28 before up to the very same day
Completion and moving in
This is the day the process is finally completed and all hopes are realised – you are becoming a homeowner. Whether this is your first property purchase or you are taking a step along the property ladder, this is always a welcome day.
At this point, your mortgage (if you have one) will be finalised. All fees will be paid to the relevant parties and you can collect your keys and move into your new home.
Think Plutus offers advice on various things you can do to provide yourself with long-term security and, as always, we are here to help with ensuring move-in day is as stress-free as possible.
Timescale for completion and moving in: 24 hours (though you can give yourself more time to move if your circumstances allow)
Final thoughts on how long it takes to buy a house
As you can see, there are many variables at every stage of the house-buying process that impact the amount of time a property purchase in the UK takes. One key thing for sellers to bear in mind is that their choice of estate agent will have a fundamental influence on the timescale.
Calculations for the projected timescale for buyers concentrate largely on things like surveys and conveyancing but, for sellers, it can be incredibly helpful to have someone in their corner to push things along. Ultimately, it will usually take somewhere between 3 and 6 months to complete a property purchase in the UK, though some will fall outside this timescale due to exceptional circumstances. With so many variables at play, this is the best estimate we can give.
The key constant in the equation is choosing the right professionals to carry out the tasks at hand. You will want to have the right solicitors and surveyors working for you, but you will also want to be placing your mortgage application with the right lender. This is where Think Plutus comes into play.
As a whole-of-market mortgage broker, we can search the full market to find the best lender and the right mortgage for you. We are highly experienced with all mainstream and specialist lenders and can place your application where it is most likely to be accepted. Take some of the stress and frustration out of the house-buying process and maximise your chances of a smooth, swift transition.
For expert mortgage advice and guidance on buying the home of your dreams, Think Plutus.