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How Long Is The Process Of Buying A House?

September 21, 2021

So, you’ve got your deposit ready and you’re excited to buy a property, but how long is the process of buying a house?

Once you’ve found the property and had your offer accepted, the transferring of land and property ownership is a complex process that takes time to work through. When it comes to buying property in the UK, as exciting as it is, you need a healthy dose of patience, as cooperation from multiple parties is relied upon for a smooth transaction to occur.

As a general rule of thumb, the process of buying a house in the UK typically takes approximately 3 months (12 weeks). That’s once you have found the property and agreed upon a price, however. Between searching for the right home and any unexpected delays, it’s prudent to add another 3 months to that timeline expectation - it’s better to be pleasantly surprised with a quicker turnaround than frustrated with a lengthy one.Here are the steps that factor into the house buying process and how long each typically takes.

Getting a mortgage Agreement In Principle (AIP)

Ideally, this should be your first step, before you even start looking at properties. Getting an AIP not only gives you a better understanding of the price bracket that you should be shopping within, but will also make your mortgage approval a quicker and easier process once you settle on one.

Sometimes, obtaining an AIP can happen instantly, while other times lenders may take a few days to get back to you. Make sure you have all the necessary information to hand, to make it as easy a process as possible.

Get in touch with our team at Portico Finance on 07824 353803 if you’re looking to secure a mortgage. With access to over 70 lenders, we help our clients get the best possible terms available to them.

The property search

This first step can, of course, vary significantly depending upon a number of factors. These include your motivation to buy, your readiness to commit, your particular preferences, and how realistic your expectations are regarding the price you will pay. The average time spent on the property search is around eight to twelve weeks.

Related: UK House Prices: Which Areas Are Seeing Prices Soar?

Agreeing on a price

Once you’ve made an offer on your desired property, it may spark the beginning of some back-and-forth negotiations. This rarely takes a substantial amount of time, as everyone tends to want to progress quickly, but depending upon the competition and how far apart you are, it may take a couple of weeks.

Securing a mortgage

So long as you didn’t skip the first step of acquiring an Agreement In Principle, having an AIP should make this step easier and quicker. Either way, so long as your paperwork is all in order and your credit rating is healthy, securing a mortgage should take a maximum of two to three weeks. If there are any unexpected complications, then it may take closer to four or five weeks to complete. The best thing you can do is stay organised with your documents and respond quickly and efficiently to any communication from your lender.

Contract drafting, searches, and surveys

Your appointed conveyancer will draft your contract with the cooperation of the Land Registry, the seller, and their conveyancer. It is important that this document is thorough and accurate, and it can typically take anywhere from one to four weeks to complete.

While the contract drafting takes place, your conveyancer will organise for surveys and searches to be conducted on the property. These provide important information regarding the property, such as any planning limitations, where the boundaries lie, any environmental risks, and whether the seller is legally entitled to sell it to you. So long as the findings are agreeable, these should not delay the process.

Related: A Glossary Of Buying And Selling Terms

Exchanging the contracts

Once the contracts have been drafted and the searches have been completed, it’s time to exchange the contracts.

An appointment will be made in which you will pay your deposit to the solicitor, and the conveyancers will exchange signed copies of the contracts. Once this is done, the contract becomes legally binding.

Upon the exchange, a completion date will be set. Completion is usually within 30 days of the exchange, but can sometimes be in as little as a few days.

Before the completion date, you are legally obligated to buy the property, so it is important to put buildings insurance in place. Your lender will then release the funds to the conveyancer ready to forward to the seller on the day of completion.


You made it - congratulations!

Upon completion, you will be given the keys to your new property and can move in. While this is generally considered the end of the process in terms of how long it takes, there are a couple of additional tasks to carry out before the process is officially complete.

Registering ownership with the Land Registry

Your conveyancer will arrange this on your behalf, but there may be a fee payable. You will have been informed in advance depending upon your agreement if this is the case.

Paying your Stamp Duty

There is a limited timeframe for paying Stamp Duty tax for property purchases, so your conveyancer ensures that it is paid. Again, you will be advised by them in advance as to what to expect, and how much will be owing.

Read More: A Guide To Capital Gains Tax Implications For Landlords 2021

Read More: A Complete Guide To Private Residence Relief

Receiving the property title deeds

Upon completion of Land Registry registration, you will receive a copy of the new title deeds of the property, and your conveyancer will also forward a copy to your lender.

Thinking of buying a property? Get in touch!

Ultimately, there are many aspects of the property buying process that are out of your hands, but there are some things you can do to minimise how long it all takes. It all comes down to being organised. If you really want to move as quickly as possible, ensure that your credit history is good and that all of your documentation is in order, seek an AIP before searching, and shop within your budget so you can make a competitive offer.

Other than that, respond swiftly and efficiently to all correspondence between lenders, conveyancers, and solicitors, and be prepared to be patient!

Here at Portico, we specialise in assisting clients through the process of buying property. Whether you need help finding the perfect new home, or are unsure how to go about getting the right mortgage, we’re here to help. Reach out to our mortgage experts on 020 7099 4000 or take a look at the wide selection of properties we currently have on the market.

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