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How long does it take to buy a house?

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Exactly how long it takes to buy a house depends on various factors, including how quickly you can find the right place and how quickly you can find a buyer for your own home (unless you are a first time buyer).

However, if you have found the right property and have a buyer lined up for your own home (where necessary), it will usually take around 6-8 weeks from the issuing of contracts to go through the actual process of buying your new home.

In this blog, we will look at the stages of the conveyancing process involved in buying a house and how long each stage typically takes, as well as some of the common issues that can delay a house sale and what you can do to avoid them.

Stages in the conveyancing process for homebuyers

While the length of time conveyancing takes will depend on the circumstances, including any unexpected issues that arise, the following is an indication of what the main steps involved are and how long each typically takes.

Pre-contract enquiries – The seller’s solicitor should provide a contract pack including all the information you need to know about the property and a draft contract of sale. Your solicitor will need to review this, identify any potential issues and address this with the seller’s solicitor. This can take from a few days to a few weeks, depending on whether any issues are identified. Typically leasehold properties will take longer because information needs to be obtained from the Landlord or Managing Agents. This can take several weeks.

Property checks and searches – Your solicitor will need to ensure various checks and searches are carried out to ensure any potential problems with the property are identified. This typically takes around 2 weeks, but can take up to 6 weeks in some cases.

Exchange of contracts – This involves your solicitor comparing your copy of the contract with the one held by the seller’s solicitor. This is normally done by the two solicitors reading their copies out over the phone to each other to ensure they are identical, then posting the signed copies to each other, thus “exchanging” the contracts. This process typically takes a day or two, including postage time.

Completion – This is when the final transfer of funds takes place and the house officially passes into the buyer’s ownership. A date for completion will be agreed as part of the contact negotiations and is generally set for anywhere from the same day as exchange of contracts up to around 4 weeks afterwards.

Avoiding common delays when buying a house

There are a number of problems that can slow down the process of buying a house. Some of the most common include:

Delaying hiring a conveyancer – As soon as you have an offer accepted, you should instruct your solicitor to begin the conveyancing. It is therefore sensible to choose a conveyancer when you first start looking for a property, so you do not have to waste time shopping around and making a choice after you have found your new home.

Disagreements over what is included in the sale – Make sure it is absolutely clear what is and isn’t included in the sale e.g. fixtures and fittings, plants in the garden etc. Any disagreement over this can hold up the sale while the matter is resolved.

Underestimating how long it takes to get a mortgage – Many people make the mistake of thinking that if they have an offer in principle for a mortgage, it is then a quick formality to secure an actual mortgage. However, this process can take longer than you might expect, so it is worth contacting your mortgage lender as soon as you have had an offer accepted to get the ball rolling.

Get reliable conveyancing for buying a house

Bird & Co Solicitors is a long-established law firm offering conveyancing services for properties across England and Wales from our 3 offices in the East Midlands.

We are highly experienced in conveyancing for all types of residential property, so can make the home buying process as fast, smooth and cost-effective as possible while ensuring your interests stay protected. We are accredited by the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme reflecting the high quality of our residential property services.

To find out more about our conveyancing services for homebuyers, call us today on 01476 591711 or use our contact page to find details of your nearest office.

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