How long will it take to buy a property?

Published Dec 28, 2018 – 4 mins read

A question we are often asked by our clients is, how long will it take to buy a property?

It’s not a question that is easily answered but you can give yourself an idea of what might affect the amount of time it takes for a purchase to complete from when you agree the purchase price and secure the property, by understanding the factors that will impact the transaction speed.

Finding a property

Some are fortunate to find their dream home after very few viewings and take decisive action and proceed to purchase, others might view an ideal property early on but believe they might find better and often end up comparing everything to that property and then find it is sold by the time they realise they want to buy it. We’ve seen this happen many times.

The perfect property can take some time to find, learning what you’ll compromise on is often part of the journey, realistically we would expect it to take no more than 6 months to secure a home.

Using a property finder to help you find a property should reduce the amount of time it will take for you to find your perfect property.

Negotiating on a property

Offering on a property and agreeing the price with the seller can take anything from a few hours to a few weeks.

Be aware that on properties where there is interest from multiple parties and many viewings are booked you might view and make an offer only to be told that the seller is waiting for all viewings to take place before considering or that there will be sealed bids taking place in a weeks’ time.

Until you’ve secured the property we’d recommend you continue viewing others and even when it is secured we wouldn’t cancel the email notifications until you’ve completed on the purchase.

What is a property chain?

You may have hear agents talking about ‘chains’ during your time searching, this doesn’t mean that the property features some fancy metal work, they are referring to the position of the seller and you as a buyer.

If you have a property to sell or are in the process of selling that impacts your ability to purchase a property then you are ‘in a chain’, it’s always useful to know these details about your buyer in case they’re in a chain and if their purchase is dependent on a sale is their buyer also in a chain? Chains can be long or short but knowing where you stand and what affects your timings and that of the seller are important to better understand how long it will take to buy the property.

When to put your property on the market for sale

This question often divides property professionals – if you haven’t got a buyer for your property, your purchase is dependent on selling your property and you view the house of your dreams and want to buy it you are deemed ‘non proceedable’ as you need to find a buyer for your house before you can buy another.

However if you put your property on the market before you’ve found your ideal home you could be forced to move out prematurely, perhaps into rented accommodation to avoid buying a property and spending money on things like Stamp Duty when you’re not in love with it.

There is a sweet spot – understanding the market you’re selling in and the one you’re buying in are paramount to getting the timing right.

When to hand your notice in on a rental

Dependent on the type of property your buying as if you’re buying a doer upper you might want an overlap to avoid living in a building site.

For those buying a property they can happily move into right away make sure you read your contract to ensure you understand the notice period you must supply to the landlord. In many instances your solicitor can set the completion date to align with the end of your tenancy meaning you’ll hand your notice in upon exchange of contracts.

Never be afraid to ask to leave early if it would better suit your plans, landlords can be flexible if you are flexible with allowing viewings for prospective tenants.

Property buying timeline

Where possible we tend to agree the timings for the purchase at the same time as we agree the purchase price, this means all parties, including solicitors, are working to the same timeline.

Mortgage lenders can take longer to arrange financing if they’re experiencing a busy period so it’s always useful to ask your mortgage broker or lender what there timings are at that time. You’ll likely be checking in with them periodically during your search anyway so it’s definitely a question worth asking. Cash purchases are often much quicker as they’re only dependent on the legal process.

Similarly one of the first things your solicitor will do is apply for searches, each local authority can take a different amount of time to reply, as this is often the basis for much of the work done by solicitors a delay here can have a knock on effect. Whilst it is out of your hands and is simply a process everyone has to follow you can get an idea of the time this will add to your purchase.

Whilst it’s difficult to provide an exact timeline generically for property purchasing in the UK, it can be much less frustrating if you understand the factors which will impact your purchase in advance of proceeding on a property.

If you’d like help finding a property in a timely manner our professional property finders could be a great help to your search. To learn more about our service please contact us for a no obligation discussion.