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Buying a house timeline

How long does it take to buy a house? If you're trying to plan your move, our buying a house timeline breaks down everything you need to know.

Buying a house timeline

Timeline for buying a house

How long does it take to buy a home? It's totally normal to want to know exactly how long it will take, from when you start looking until the keys are in your hand. But nobody has a crystal ball — exactly how long it will take is hard to guess, because every home search is a little different. But being prepared is key — so we can let you know how long it normally takes to buy a new home, from securing a mortgage in principle right through until moving day.

How long it takes to buy will depend on a lot of things — it might be that it's a hot market and there's a lot of competition, it may be that you're not in any rush and you want to take your time and find the dream home. We'll give you all of the information you need to plan ahead, by breaking down the process of buying a home into individual steps. Our buying a house timeline deals with every detail — not just from an accepted offer to completion. To really get a sense of the average time it takes to buy a home, you need to start at the very beginning.

0-1 week

Securing a mortgage in principle

The first step toward buying a home is sorting out your financing. Most of us (unless you're paying cash) need to apply for a mortgage. The first step is to get your "mortgage in principle" or your "agreement in principle". This lets you know how much you can borrow, so you can start your house hunt in earnest.

Once you meet with a lender or mortgage broker and have all your information to hand, this can happen very quickly — often within 24 hours. But if you need time to check your credit score and gather all of the documents you need to get a mortgage — or if you want to meet with multiple lenders — give yourself around a week or so.

4-12 weeks

Viewings and offers

Now comes the fun part: house shopping. This can be a very quick process or much longer, depending on what the market is like and how specific your needs are. It might be just a week or two until you find your dream home — or you might spend months looking for the perfect fit. That's OK — it's up to you how long you spend looking before making an offer, but anywhere from 4-12 weeks is a good estimate for this stage.

Of course, once you find a home and make an offer, you need to wait and see what happens. Often a seller will get back to you right away, but they might want to take a weekend to think about it or see if there are other offers to consider. Your estate agent should keep you in the loop every step of the way.

9 weeks on average

From offer accepted to contracts exchanged

Congrats! Your offer has been accepted — it's a really exciting time, but a few things need to happen before everything becomes official. This can be a scary time, because it's when things can still fall through, but it's also when you get a chance to make sure this is the right home for you before you're tied into anything legally.

Your solicitor will run any necessary searches and enquiries, and you may also want to have a survey done to make sure that the property is sound. During this period, there may be some negotiations about the contract — you'll decide on a moving date, talk about white goods and light fixtures to see what's being left behind and what's moving with the seller, and any special requests.

If you both want the process to move quickly, it can — but on average this part of the process tends to take about 9 weeks, so it's good to plan for around a couple of months.

2 weeks on average

From exchange to completion

You're almost there! This part of the process is also dependent on how motivated you and the seller are — if you both want to get a move on, exchange and completion can happen back-to-back. Normally, there's a couple of weeks between the two. Plenty of time to arrange a moving van, pack, pick out some paint colours, and (of course) pick up the keys on moving day!

15 - 24 weeks

Total length

As you can see, there's a wide range of how long it takes to buy a house. If everything moved very swiftly, it could be as little as three months, or it could be over six. The 15 - 24 week range is a safe estimate if you're looking to plan ahead. It all comes down to you, what you're looking for, and how tricky that is to find.

But there's no reason to rush at a pace that you don't feel comfortable with. It's a big investment, so make sure you give it the time and thought it deserves. Ultimately, the right home will be worth the wait.

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