Residential Conveyancing How long does it take to buy a property? Everything you need to know.

(August 2020) Buying a new home is exciting, but you may be anxious about how long the process could take from start to finish. Understanding how long you can expect to wait before you get the keys to your new home can help you to plan both practically and financially. In this post, we set out an estimated duration for each stage of the conveyancing process.

Finding your new home (8-12 weeks)

Finding your ideal property is possibly the most difficult stage to allocate a time limit as this really depends on you. Before you start looking for properties, you should have a good understanding of your budget, how much deposit you have and the amount you will be able to borrow. This can make the process simpler and avoid any difficulties at a later stage. While you might find your dream home tomorrow, we recommend planning to spend around three months to find the right property.

Making an offer (2 weeks)

After you have found a property you wish to buy, you will need to make an offer and negotiate any conditions. Both you and the seller will be looking to get the best deal possible and negotiation is a normal part of the process. If the initial offer you make works for the seller, they may accept it right away. However, there can be several stages of rejection and making new offers which can take up to a couple of weeks – or in some cases, longer.

Securing a mortgage (3-5 weeks)

You may have already secured an Agreement in Principle at this stage, or you may just have started the mortgage process. On average, it takes around 18-40 days to secure money from a mortgage lender. After you have made a full mortgage application, your lender will carry out a mortgage valuation survey, which can take anything from a few days to a few weeks. It is particularly important at the current time that you start your mortgage application early because due to many mortgage lenders’ employees working remotely it can take a lot longer for mortgage offers to be issued than is usually the case and you would not be able to exchange contracts until the mortgage offer has arrived and any conditions on the offer have been satisfied.

Exchanging contracts (4-6 weeks)

The negotiation and exchange of contracts is typically the part of the conveyancing process where homebuyers can begin to feel out of the loop. Your solicitor will be working with the seller’s solicitor to negotiate the terms of the contract and making the required searches and enquiries to ensure the sale can proceed. At this stage, you will also be required to pay the deposit for the property once the search results are back and all replies to enquiries. Once all of the details have been finalised, you and the seller will sign the contracts, and the agreement to transfer ownership of the property becomes legally binding.

Completion (1-4 weeks)

Although you have signed the contract for sale, you will likely need to wait a few weeks before moving into your new home. Generally, the usual gap between exchange of contracts and completion is between one to four weeks. However, the completion date can be a much shorter or longer period between exchange of contracts and completion depending what is agreed between the buyer and seller. On the date of completion, you will receive the keys once the rest of the money for the property has been paid to the seller and received by the seller’s solicitors.

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