How Long Does it Take to Buy a House in the UK?

The Ridings Epsom

There is often a great deal of debate on the web on many subjects, but how long it takes to buy a house can vary wildly and people often exclude an important phase: finding a house you want to buy and having an offer accepted.

So, how long does it take to buy a house in the UK?

In 2022 to buy a house it takes around 18 weeks, but that is only assuming that the buying process goes as swimmingly as possible. On average you need from 6 to 12 weeks to search and find the right property, from 2 to 4 weeks to receive a mortgage offer, around 16 weeks for conveyancing including signing and exchanging contracts and then from 2 to 4 weeks to complete the sale, get the keys and move in to your lovely new home.

Instead of looking at the whole process as one big adventure, it is easier to understand and manage if it is broken down into separate phases.

Phase 1: Searching for a House

This is perhaps the biggest variable in the whole process as it is dependent on so many things, some of which aren’t down to mortgage applications or other people but your own personal opinions.

Key questions to ask throughout this:

• Where are you looking?
• What are you looking for?
• How much work do you want to do on the house?
• How urgently do you need to move?
• Are you prepared to compromise on your wish list?

The last point is probably the most important to consider. We all want a stunning mansion with a spiral staircase overlooking Regent’s Park for a handful of pennies but thinking about it realistically, that’s unlikely to happen. It’s not impossible though, so keep your fingers crossed. But for the most part, especially if time is of the essence, it is important to be willing to settle for something maybe one or two levels below the Bloomsbury mansion.

Equally, if you find a property that maybe isn’t exactly what you were initially after, you’re not prohibited from doing it up and making it your own.

When it comes to searching, The Personal Agent are here to help. Visit our search page to find your perfect property.

Phase 2: Getting a Mortgage

One of our last blogs looked at some of the different types of mortgages available. Due to the number of avenues to choose from, getting a mortgage has never been simpler.

There are a few steps that you can take in order to minimize stress and time in this phase and most of them are the same: be prepared ahead of time.

• Choose a mortgage provider or solicitor when you start your search (we provide an in-house mortgage service through Ignite Financial Services)
• Work out how much you can afford to pay each month before you go to your bank
• Get an Agreement in Principle before making your offer

If you can ensure that all of these things are in place before you step foot in a bank or building society, the rest of your house buying experience will be (mostly) free of speed bumps and long delays.

Phase 3: Exchange of Contracts

This phase can be quite alienating at times as a lot is going on but you may not be involved in much of the discussion.

Each party involved in the purchase has to go through their solicitors to go over the finer details.

The finer details can be trivial to ‘who owns the garden fence’ to slightly larger notes such as ‘is the garage included in the deed or is it separate?’

If you do feel you are out of the loop then don’t worry as most solicitors will be happy to catch you up on a phone call. Failing that, you can go directly to your estate agent to do the chasing for you.
The final step of this phase? The Deposit.

It goes without saying but make sure you still have your deposit otherwise that opens up a whole host of problems.

Phase 4: Completing the Sale

The last hurdle that you need to overcome in the process and, frustratingly, one that can’t be done ahead of time by yourself. Just because you’ve exchanged contracts, you’ve got everything in place and you’re otherwise ready to move in to your new home doesn’t mean it’s as simple as that. Just because you are ready doesn’t mean that the other parties are.

Things that often get overlooked such as banks sending across your mortgage, removal companies, how prepared the current occupiers are, they can all make this part of your house-buying process much longer than you would maybe like.

The important thing to remember throughout the entire process is that something like buying a house can take a long time and is a complicated and confusing experience. If you are a first-time buyer getting your foot on the property ladder, don’t worry because there are always opportunities to ask a question or get clarity on something.

Property Chains

Property chains are the bane of house buyers and sellers everywhere. They are also the thing that can perhaps introduce the most variation into the house buying process. If you are a first-time buyer, you don’t need to worry about the chain behind you and so you invariably are the catalyst to move any chain of home-buyers. This is what makes first time buyers so important to the property market. That said, there may be a line of five, six, or more households in front of the person selling the house you want to move into. A breakdown in a chain at this point could cause big issues and even if everything goes well everyone still needs to fill out their paperwork, chase their solicitors, and ultimately finish their purchases before you can make yours. This can add a lot of time to the process, usually in Phases 1 or 2.

The good news is that quick moves can occur and if you are in a hurry, informing your estate agents about your urgency will significantly reduce the chances of delays as they will begin searching for appropriate houses. The Personal Agent are here to make one of the most important purchases in your life as seamless as possible so get in touch today or call us on 01372 745 850.


Rupert Briggs

About the author

Rupert Briggs | Director, Epsom

Hi, my name is Rupert and I’m the owner and Director of The Personal Agent Ltd. Richard and I launched The Personal Agent in 2004 with a vision of it being a very different kind of agency. Having worked for local estate agents, we knew what the market was looking for – a personal service tailored to the needs of those who trust us with their properties, one that genuinely listens, adapts, and consistently delivers on its promises. I am passionate about ensuring that each and every landlord and vendor we work with only ever receives the very best in service, marketing and cutting-edge innovations to ensure that they achieve their property goals and we live up to their expectations.