Why does buying a house take so long?

24th January 2021

It is generally expected that it will take around 3 months to complete a house sale, although this does not take into account the time it takes to actually find your dream home in the first place, or any unexpected delays such as a chain falling through, issues highlighted in the survey or complications with a mortgage application, to name a few. The recent property boom following the temporary stamp duty reduction has also seen estate agents, mortgage lenders, surveyors and conveyancers swamped with eager buyers trying to move before the deadline for reduced rates on 31 March 2021.

As such, it is best to assume that it will take around 6 months before you will be  getting the keys to your dream home.

Below we talk you through the process of buying a house and our tips for making the process as speedy as possible.

The process of buying a house

  • Finding a property – This stage of the process will generally take around 8-12 weeks. Timescales depend on the type of property you are after (the longer your checklist, obviously the longer this will take!), the local property market and the size of your search area. It may be that you need to travel further afield to find a property which suits your requirements within budget.

To save yourself avoidable delays from the get-go, this is also the time to start researching the best local estate agents, conveyancers and chartered surveyors to save yourself time down the line. Building surveys are particularly crucial as they allow you to assess the condition of potential properties thoroughly, added building surveys Essex. This will also give you an indication of cost so you can budget for the expense of moving to a new house, quite apart from the cost of the property.

  • Making an offer – Unless you are making an asking price offer, there is likely to be some back and forth between yourself and the vendor as a price is agreed. This is particularly the case if there are other interested buyers and the vendor needs to decide who is their preferred buyer.
  • Getting a mortgage – To save yourself any avoidable delays in the process, it is useful to research mortgage lenders and get your paperwork in order before you find the house you want to buy, since you will already have an idea of the price you can pay. There are many online mortgage calculators which can help you with this, and if you are a first-time buyer, self-employed or you are dealing with a complex purchase, a mortgage broker may be helpful to find you the best mortgage deal. However, it is best not to request a mortgage in principle or a final mortgage until you are seriously considering a particular property since both the agreement in principle and the final mortgage offer are only valid for around 6 months and usually involve a credit check which will have an impact on your overall credit score if you keep repeating the process.

If you have a good credit rating and you have provided all of the necessary paperwork you should be able to get a decision on your mortgage application within 18-40 days.

  • Exchanging contracts – Before you can exchange contracts (the legally binding bit), both your conveyancer and the vendor’s conveyancer will have been undertaking local searches and seeking information from each other and external parties, such as Land Registry and local councils, to advance the sale. This process generally takes around four weeks with no complications. To ensure the process is as speedy as possible, make sure you respond to any queries and provide as much information as needed with a quick turnaround.
  • Completing the sale – this final stage of the buying process is when you pay the remaining fee for the property (you will have paid your deposit on exchange of contracts) and settle any other outstanding fees for the move such as conveyancer and removals fees. This stage is also dependent on the timescales of the vendor and how quickly they can move out. If they are in a chain this may take a little longer. Completing the sale will generally take between 1-4 weeks.

Again, research the best options for removals companies in advance. Not only might you save yourself time and money in doing so, but if you have valuables which are particularly delicate or large, bulky items to move a significant distance then you may need a specialist removals company to assist you. The most reputable removals companies will often get booked up in advance during peak moving times (Fridays, weekends and the summer holidays). This has particularly been the case in the recent housing boom. Make sure you check out how to Sell My House Fast Colorado Springs CO for more tips.

When it comes to getting an accurate idea of how long it will take you to buy a house, it is also useful to have a rough idea of how long it currently takes properties to sell in your local area since this can vary depending on your location

For instance, in 2020, comparison site GetAgent calculated that property transactions in the North East of England took a not insignificant 29% longer (188 days) than those in the West Midlands (146 days). Surprisingly, the fast-moving London property market also saw property transaction times increasing in 2020.

So whenever and wherever you plan to move, always allow yourself plenty of time.