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How Long Does It Take To Buy A House?

The length of time it takes to buy a house does not come with a specific time guarantee. In fact, the whole process is tinged with an air of uncertainty, especially if you’re a first-time buyer with little experience of property transactions.

How Long Does It Take To Buy A House?

Generally, the time that it takes to buy a home (from offer to completion) will range from between six to 12 weeks but this varies and depends on many factors.

Let’s take a look at what is involved in property purchase and how long it could all take.

1. Getting A Mortgage Agreement In Principle (AIP) – 24 hours

Getting a mortgage in principle should be the first step for anyone planning to buy a home. It’ll help you understand your affordability and will make the process of getting your mortgage approved much easier and quicker when you find a property you wish to buy.

Several factors affect the amount of time it takes to get a mortgage agreement in principle but you can often be given an immediate decision. Many lenders will get back to you the same day or within a few days after you have approached them.

2. Finding The Right Property – days/weeks/months…

Once you have your mortgage in principle, you’ll know the price bracket of houses you’ll be able to view. There’s no definitive answer as to how long you can expect it to take to find your dream home though. Carefully consider all the options, arrange several viewings and only make an offer once you’re confident it’s the right choice.

3. Pre-Contract Stage – 4 – 12 Weeks

Once your offer has been accepted, there a a number of things that will need to happen at around the same time:

  • Appoint A Conveyancing Solicitors –

    When you find ‘the one’, you will formally instruct your conveyance solicitor.  Do your research – ask friends, family and colleagues for recommendations. Be aware of what duties they’ll undertake on your behalf and ask whether they’re on your mortgage lender’s panel of solicitors and can act for both you and your lender. You can get a breakdown of conveyancing fees right here.

A solicitor doesn’t have to be local as so much of the work can now be done by phone, email or even Skype. Flexibility may be important for you so ask questions before you make your decision. In addition make sure you get a full breakdown of conveyancing fees and written confirmation that no additional charges will be made.

  • Get Mortgage Offer

    – Once you have chosen a property, you can turn that Agreement in Principle into a concrete mortgage offer. You’ll pass all the details to your lender, and they’ll conduct their own valuations on the home before getting back to you. This might take a few weeks.

  • Drafting Of Contracts

    – Your conveyancing solicitors will begin drafting up your contract, with the cooperation of your seller, their conveyancer, and the Land Registry. Your contract must be clear and thorough so this can take anything from one week to four or five.

  • Searches And Surveys

    – Your conveyance solicitor will make sure that the searches and surveys are conducted. These will tell you as much information as possible about the property before you buy. Searches will check things like whether the seller can legally sell, where the property boundary is, environmental risks, planning limitations or plans for construction nearby. Surveys will study the physical state of the building and flag any potential problems.

If you are wondering how long conveyancing takes, then unfortunately, there is no clear answer. In an ideal world, conveyancing on a freehold property can take as little as six weeks. Leasehold sales typically take longer, with a minimum conveyancing time frame of around eight to 10 weeks. You can get a breakdown of conveyancing fees from any of our board certified solicitors in minutes.

It can often take longer than this though because the land the property is built on is owned by someone other than the seller. This person is known as the freeholder. The more parties involved in the sale, the longer it’s likely to take.

The time taken between exchanging contracts and completing is one to two weeks but it’s not unknown for people to exchange and complete on the same day. Compare conveyancing fees today

4.Exchange To Completion – Around 12 weeks

Once your mortgage offer is in place, the contracts have been drafted, and the searches are complete, you can exchange contracts. This often takes between 20-30 days.

Both sets of conveyancing solicitors will swap signed copies and you’ll transfer your deposit to your solicitor. From this point onwards, the agreement is legally binding.

On exchanging, a completion date will be agreed. This could be anything from a few days to several weeks. This is when the funds will be transferred and keys handed over.

Between exchange and completion, a few things need to happen:

  • Building Insurance – When you are legally bound to buy the property, it must be protected should anything happen to it.
  • Signing Of Documents – Depending on the complexities of your property purchase, your conveyancing solicitor may still have things you need to sign after exchanging, such as a completion statement or transfer deed.
  • Drawing Funds From Lender – In preparation for completion, your conveyance solicitor will acquire the funds from your mortgage lender, ready to give to the seller on completion day.

5. Completion And Thereafter – 2 weeks

The day has arrived to move into your new home. Your conveyance solicitor will have facilitated the transfer of funds, and will have the keys to your new property ready to hand over to you.

Whilst you might want to start making your new house a home, there are a few more steps in the house buying process to consider:

  • Paying Stamp Duty

    Stamp Duty is a tax paid on property purchases. Your conveyancing solicitor will be able to tell you whether you need to pay it and if so, how much you owe. You have 30 days in which to pay it once you buy, so your conveyancer must ensure it’s paid or you will face a fine.

  • Registering Ownership

    – After completion, you must let the Land Registry know you formally own the property. Your conveyancer will arrange this for you. There may be a fee to pay depending on your arrangement.

  • Obtaining Title Deeds

    – Once the registration has gone through, your conveyancer will get copies of the property’s new title deeds sent over, to share with you and your mortgage lender.

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