How long does it take to sell a house?

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Selling a house takes a fair bit of time. Not only this but there are a range of factors out of your control that go into selling a house so it is important you pay attention to the topic.

You don’t want to find yourself selling a property for months upon months and perhaps years because you’re unprepared because selling a house is a stressful process anyway. Unfortunately, no matter how much research you put into it, there are many variables that can affect the timeline of a property sale that are simply unavoidable and unpredictable too.

So, in this article, we will break down the difficult topic of how long it takes to sell a house in the UK. Whether that be with a mortgage or through shared ownership.

How long does it take on average to sell a house in the UK?

Did you know that the time it takes to sell a property in the UK (excluding London) has decreased by almost a week in 2021 compared to the previous year? A

It now takes around 44 days to sell a property from the date of listing to agreeing on a sale, which is down from around 50 days in 2020.

Interestingly, houses tend to sell faster than flats, taking an average of 42 days to sell compared to 62 days for flats. 

However, once an offer has been accepted, there’s still some work to be done in terms of paperwork and legal processes before the sale is completed. 

On average, the entire house sale process takes between 4 and 6 months.

Table showing the average time it takes to sell a property

Based on the data, and other evidence excluding the table, the process of selling a house takes an average of 4 to 6 months to complete.

To break it down, it takes around 10 to 12 weeks from listing a new home to receiving an offer. Click here, to learn more about how to negotiate and make these types of offers.

After an offer has been accepted, the conveyancing process takes an average of 12 weeks to complete. Finally, the exchange to completion phase takes anywhere from 0 to 4 weeks, making up the remaining time in the 4 to 6 month total.

Using the below table, you should be able to plan accordingly and have a successful sale with the right amount of time scheduled to plan ahead.

The process 

The average time taken 

New home to offer

10 – 12 weeks 

The conveyancing process 

12 weeks 

Exchange to completion

0 – 4 weeks 

Total time

4 – 6 months

What factors tend to delay the sale of a house?

After you find a buyer for your house, the process may appear to be straightforward, but several factors can still delay the sale despite all your hard work.

Solicitors

If you want to sell your house quickly, having a good solicitor is essential. They are responsible for ensuring that all the legal aspects of the sale are done correctly.

However, they can delay the sale anywhere from 2 weeks all the way up to two months after the sale of a property has come through.

In order to avoid this, it’s best to have all your paperwork in order before you even list your property so that there are no delays from your end and a solicitor can process all legal paperwork quickly.

Other than this, to reduce delays, simply find a reliable and efficient solicitor to avoid any unnecessary and also keep in mind that if your buyer’s solicitor is slow, this is a factor outside your control.

Building survey

Building surveys typically take two weeks to arrange for a surveyor to visit and return with a report. The surveyor may take up to two months to inspect the property during busy times. This process may be delayed for a variety of reasons, including the discovery of structural difficulties, subsidence, dampness, or gas safety hazards which would warrant the need for a certificate.

If the work that is needed in the property is extensive, the buyer can request a price reduction to make the property secure. So, seller’s must be as honest as possible in their property listing.

Local authority investigation 

So, when you’re selling a property, the buyer’s solicitor will conduct local authority searches to ensure that everything is as you’ve described it and that there aren’t any specific building requirements or restrictions.

For instance, a property could be in a conservation area or the property could be a listed building like those seen here.

Nonetheless a seller should have already mentioned this on a property listing so it should come as no surprise to the buyer. Listed buildings are a big deal as you can face legal action for renovating them.

On top of this, grade A or B listed buildings may be affected by their ability to go up in value or go down in value because of this inability to conduct any future work on the property.

Most of the time, the only thing that slows down this process is the local authority. Each authority works differently and the amount of sales going through at the time can also affect how long it takes. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do to speed this up but perhaps send a polite email or letter to the local authority in question.

Exchange

After a buyer makes it through all the steps and now it’s time to exchange contracts it can be seen as an exciting time because this is usually fast and should only take around a day.

Nonetheless, this is also where things can go wrong because a seller’s solicitor and the buyer’s solicitor will review the contracts and in rare cases deals could fall through due to contract issues.

The good thing is if there is an issue here it is likely to be highlighted straight away rather than taking a few days or weeks to come to surface.

exchanging a house after working out how long it takes to sell

Completion of sale

You may be wondering what the difference is between the exchange and the completion of sale and this is because the completion of the sale refers to the wider buyer chain that you’re involved in.

For example, if you haven’t found another place to buy yet or your moving date with your new home is later, you may need to ask your buyer to complete after the exchange date. 

On the flip side, if you need more time to pack up and move out, you could ask for a delay. But usually, people will complete about a week after exchange.

What is the absolute quickest you can sell a house?

As mentioned, there is usually a set period of time where houses are able to be sold in. However, if you’re after speed and want the best tips for selling quickly, read on.

Check out the government’s advice on the topic here too for some additional information.

What are the best methods for selling quickly?

Below are some quick tips to work out how to sell a property quickly so you can move on with a sale quickly and get out any buyer chain you’re in with ease.

These include being able to think about your asking price in the right way, present and market your property correctly and also choose the right estate agent for the deal.

There are legitimate reasons for wanting to sell a property quickly including wanting to confirm a deal because you’ll be working with no estate agent or selling a house to pay for care.

Think about your asking price

A home’s asking price should be determined by the market, nearby sales that are comparable, as well as the qualities and condition of the particular property. 

A longer period on the market can be as a result of the property being overpriced since purchasers may become frustrated or go elsewhere for better value. 

A more competitive asking price can draw more interested buyers and boost the likelihood of a quicker sale.

Present your property in the best possible way

To present your property in the best possible way, make sure it is clean, decluttered, and well-maintained. Consider staging the home to showcase the best features potential to buyers too.

Good presentation can create a positive first impression and increase interest in the property, leading to a faster sale. 

On the other hand, a poorly presented property can turn off potential buyers and extend the time on the market.

Check out what not to fix when selling a house too.

Market your home effectively

Use both online and offline marketing strategies while selling your house, such as open houses, social media, and professional photography. 

As well as this, showcase the property’s ability to appeal to a wider audience by emphasising its special qualities through marketing too. 

A quicker sale might result from effective marketing that increases interest and draws in potential customers by increasing the exposure to the property.

Make a wise decision when choosing your estate agent

To make a wise decision on the right estate agent, research and compare agents in your area, read reviews, and ask for referrals from those who you know have recently sold a home. 

Look for an agent with experience and a track record of success selling homes similar to yours too as experience with one type of property does not necessarily show they have competence elsewhere. 

A good agent can provide valuable advice and guidance, market your home effectively, and negotiate on your behalf. As a result, they are involved heavily in some of the most important parts of the sale.

choosing the right estate agent to sell a house

What else can you do to speed up the sale?

Some other factors that you may not have considered that impact how quickly a property is able to be sold include the type of solicitor you’re able to have in a property.

Typically, the most professional, quickest to respond solicitors are the ones who are going to speed up a sale and in general, anyone you hire as part of the selling process should have the same traits.

Are there certain times of the year where properties sell quicker?

Historically, the best months of the year when you’re able to sell a property most quickly is in the spring months with the most effective months for property sales being in March and April.

This is based on houses taking the least amount of time to sell in this period and homes that are on the market for a short period of time before sale are also likely to attract the best prices.

If you want to know about the months to avoid selling a property, stay away from the months of September, October, November and December.

This is where homes take the longest as people are looking to settle down over the winter and aren’t too keen on moving.

What should you do if a house isn’t getting offers?

If you’re getting viewings but no offers, it could be an indication that your house looks great on paper but has flaws. These issues are usually related to the property’s condition, location, or advertised price.

Structural and cosmetic problems with the property can be fixed through repairs or staging, but a poor location is harder to overcome without changing the price.

It’s also possible that your estate agent has overpriced your home. This can be a difficult situation for a seller, as agents may be dragging unsuitable buyers through your house just to avoid confrontation.

To address this, you may need to reduce your asking price or consider finding a new agent.

If you have no chain, how long does it take to sell?

If you’re fortunate enough to have a buyer who doesn’t need to sell their own property and you’re not buying a new home, then things can move along much faster.

Furthermore, if that buyer is a cash buyer who doesn’t need to arrange a mortgage, then the sale can move even more quickly with a sale to a first-time buyer with a mortgage taking no longer than 10 weeks. 

However, if there is no chain and you have a cash buyer, then the sale should be completed in no more than eight weeks, or even as little as four weeks with an experienced buyer and a proactive solicitor

In some cases, it can be done in two weeks or less, especially when professional property buying services are involved and the tax you pay when you sell a house are processed quickly too.

How quickly can you sell a leasehold?

A leasehold can be sold correctly just like a normal house but there are a few more complicated details in the sale of a leasehold in comparison.

This is why it’s even more important to have an estate agent and a solicitor who is on board with your goals as you sell and act quickly when it comes to leasehold properties.

What additional information must be processed in the sale of a leasehold? 

There are some additional documents that you should be aware of when you’re trying to sell a leasehold and especially if you’re trying to sell it quickly.

At some point in the buyer process the following documents will likely be asked for so be sure to have them to hand:

Service charge documents

  • Documents about the property’s maintenance fees
  • If the building has any insurance
  • Details on asbestos surveys
  • The review of firewalls

These not only impact the length of time it takes to sell a house but also the cost it takes to sell.

working out how long it takes to sell a house

In conclusion

The absolute quickest you can sell a house depends on various factors, such as the condition of the property, the local property market, and the demand for properties in the area. 

Throughout this article you would have learned that in some cases, a property can sell within days of listing if there is high demand, and the property is in excellent condition and priced correctly. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the legal process of completing a sale typically takes around 4 to 6 months, even if the offer is accepted quickly.

Further to this, there are a range of things you can do yourself to speed up the sake of a property that you must do to remain professional in your approach like bring in the right legal professionals.

If you follow these steps, there is no good reason why you shouldn’t be able to sell your home in a respectable amount of time.

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donnell-bailey

Donnell Bailey

Property expert

Donnell is a property expert focusing on the property market, he looks at a combination of legislation, information from property managers, letting agents and market trends to produce information to help landlords.

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