By using our site, you agree to our cookie policy.

How long does it take to buy a house?

So you’re thinking about buying a house? Congratulations! Here’s a detailed roadmap of the buying process, so you can know what to expect and why.

House prices

Buying a house is an exciting endeavour. So many websites will fill you with dread about all the things that can go wrong when you’re trying to buy a house. Sure, it can be scary, daunting and fiddly, but thousands of people do it every day - it can’t be that bad! So…take our hand and let us guide you through the process, from preparation and house-hunting to offers and the move.

Buying a house timeline - at a glance

The buying process isn’t an exact science, but we can give you some parameters to work with, so you’ll have an idea of what timeframe you’re looking at. So - how long might it take to buy a house? It might help to split the journey up, so that it doesn’t feel too daunting. The stages will look something like this:

Sort out your finances - 0 - 1 weeks

  • Getting a mortgage in principle 

  • Can take minutes to arrange the mortgage, and to check your credit rating etc., but it could take longer to put into action any financial changes you have to make.

Finding the one - 6 weeks to 8 months.

  • House hunting: research the area and check it fits the bill (e.g. what’s the commuting time from work? Are there great local schools? Is there a well-poured Guinness in the local pub? And other important questions). Strike has all our properties on our website, but you can also find us on Rightmove and Zoopla.

  • Put in an offer. Tell the seller what you're willing to pay and any conditions you have (e.g. you might want them to fix some damp you saw during a viewing). 

From offer to exchange - 4 to 12 weeks.

  • If the offer is accepted, you’ll now want to get a survey to check the property's condition. Your solicitor will check any legal issues.

  • Time to exchange. This is an exchange of contracts. Time to pay your deposit (usually 5-10% of house price). At this point it is hard to back out without pretty hefty cost implications, so it’s not a great part of the process for people with commitment issues. 

Exchange to completion - Instantly to four weeks.

  • Completion: you hand over the rest of the money and….it’s done! You bought a house! Pretty major.

Now let’s delve in with more detail.

A character in a film sees a house when they’re out on a jog down a leafy, picket-fenced street. They make an offer that day, the “for sale” sign comes down, then queue the moving-in-montage. Well, what you DON’T see here is the preparation. Mainly because that would be a very boring film. Luckily, we’re here to fill in the gaps. So, before you start trying to put offers on dream houses left, right and centre, you need to be prepared to buy a house. What does that mean? Well…

Sort out your finances - 0 to 1 weeks.

Everyone’s house buying journey is different, but there’s one thing that you can guarantee - it costs money. So before anything else, you need to work out what your budget is. If you’re buying a house using a mortgage, then you need to work out how much deposit you can put down, and how much money you’ll be able to borrow, in the form of a mortgage

How much deposit are you putting down?

Your deposit will likely be at least 5% of the total price of the house, but more likely 10% or above. The higher your deposit, the better your mortgage repayments and interest rate will be. The rest of the house will be purchased with borrowed money - a mortgage. Ask yourself - how much money do I have for a deposit? Whether you’ve saved or inherited, it’s great that you have some savings to put towards your deposit. But remember not to totally drain your funds at this point, as you’ll need cash for other things during the buying process, for example:

  • Stamp Duty - you pay stamp duty when buying a house (not selling) that’s worth over £250,000. You can find out more about the thresholds and calculate how much stamp duty you’ll pay here.

  • Moving Costs - are you going to DIY it, or are you going to need to hire a full moving service? Either way, calculate your moving costs and then budget for it. 

  • Renovation - if you’re considering buying somewhere that requires some work done, you’ll want to set aside some cash to do that. You don’t want to spend every penny of your savings on your deposit, only to find you need to build a new bathroom when you move in. 

So, your deposit is your savings, minus your expenses

Is it worth saving for longer? 

A factor that would obviously slowdown your timeframe a lot, is if you decide to save more for a deposit. You may have been advised to do so by a mortgage advisor, or perhaps you’ve realised that you need 2 bedrooms rather than one? Whatever the reason, putting your buying journey on pause to build up your deposit can be frustrating. But it can be worth doing. The larger your deposit, the smaller your monthly repayments and the less your mortgage interest rate will be. Why? We are in economically turbulent times, particularly following the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the mini-budget in 2022. An unstable housing market and economy mean you might need a bigger deposit for two main reasons:

  • To prove you have financial stability: a lender can use a chunkier mortgage as evidence that you’re financially fit enough to buy a property. 

  • A larger deposit also means less risk for the mortgage company. This is because mortgages are a “secured loan”. All this means is that if you can’t make your repayments on the mortgage, you’re obliged to hand over your property to the lender. SO, when house prices are dropping a little (as they are now), lenders want to avoid repossessing your home, only to find the value of the house is less than you owed them. This is called negative equity. which sounds scary but isn’t very common. So, the loan company wants you to have a larger stake in the property to avoid them repossessing a house that’s worth less than the loan you’re repaying.

It’s always great to have a big deposit - the bigger the better! But now is a particularly good time for buyers with bigger down payments. With this in mind, it could be worth considering whether you want to move now, or in a few months or years when your savings have increased. Though this is a delay, it will save you money in the long run, as your mortgage payments reduce as the deposit goes up. However, don’t forget that 2023 is a particularly tough time to try to save, because of inflation and the cost-of-living crisis. If you’re a first-time-buyer in rented accommodation, rent in 2023 is also very high, so waiting to pull the trigger on a house in the hope of saving could end up costing you in the long run. 

Getting your Mortgage in Principle.

So you’ve decided to go ahead with buying? Great. Once you’ve worked out how much deposit to put down, the next step is for a lender (usually a bank) or better still a mortgage broker to calculate how much money they’re willing to loan you towards the house. The lender will consider several factors in order to give you a mortgage in principle. This can usually be done very quickly. A mortgage in principle is a lender saying: “in theory, we’re prepared to lend you £X towards buying a property.” If you’re a first-time-buyer, your lender will calculate how much they’re willing to loan by considering several factors including deposit size, income and outgoings. If you already own a house then your mortgage advisor can talk to you about your options, which will include bringing your current mortgage with you (porting it) or repaying your current mortgage and getting a new one. Getting a mortgage in principle is normally a very straightforward process, although applications can be rejected. But as long as you have a reliable income and a deposit, you can often be approved for a mortgage in principle within just a few minutes. 

Wondering where you start with getting a mortgage in principle? The mortgage services at Strike handle all of your mortgage needs for you, and it’s all in one handy hub so you’re totally in control of your purchase at every step. We can arrange your mortgage in principle and everything that follows, so just reach out when you’re ready to make the jump. 

Almost everyone starts their property search online, so have a look through property platforms like Rightmove and Zoopla to sift through houses that fit your criteria."

House hunting, offers and negotiations - 6 weeks to 8 months.

House hunting.

Armed with the knowledge of what your budget is, now you’re onto the juicy part. Almost everyone starts their property search online, so have a look through property platforms like Rightmove and Zoopla to sift through houses that fit your criteria. Remember not to get too overexcited at this point, as you’ll undoubtedly get overwhelmed if you book in hundreds of viewings. Narrow down your search by using filters to control price range, area and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Lots of agents are currently offering virtual tours, including interactive video guides. Otherwise, you can book in a real-life viewing. If the property ticks all the boxes then it’s wise to book in another viewing. This time consider taking friends, family or a partner, so you can share thoughts and make sure you’re confident in your decision. If you’re not sure on what you’re looking for - do your research! Make pros and cons lists and a "dealbreaker checklist" to avoid getting deeper into an agreement than you need to. 

Offers and negotiations.

It’s a pretty big thrill when you find a house that ticks your boxes - especially when it’s your first time buying. Sure, the next few steps can be a bit boring or painful, but you’re buying a house! Let the excitement carry you through. Once you’ve found your place, you will want to make an offer on the property. This can be done through your estate agent or directly to the seller's estate agent. At this point you’ll provide details of your offer: the amount you want to pay, plus any conditions, contingencies and the timeframe for completing the purchase. What are conditions and contingencies? These are requirements that must be met (by bother buyer and seller) in order for the contract to become legally binding. Some common contingencies include:

  • Home inspection contingency: the buyer (you) declare that you want a period of time to ensure the property is professionally inspected. These checks are for things like damp, structural defects, a leaky roof etc.

  • Sale of a prior home contingency: this means the buyer needs the cash from selling their current home in order to buy the property. This contingency protects the buyer, incase they’re unable to sell their existing place and therefore need to pull out of the sale. 

Both the buyer and seller must agree to the terms of each contingency and sign the contract before it becomes binding.

Acceptance or rejection.

The seller can accept, reject or make a counteroffer (this just means they’re saying “um not quite, what about XYZ?”) on your initial offer. If they accept, then you have a legally binding agreement to purchase the property at the agreed-upon price.

From offer accepted to exchanging - 4 to 12 weeks.

Property survey.

Once the offer has been accepted, you will need to have a property survey done. This can be a basic valuation survey or a more detailed survey to identify any potential problems with the property.


Based on the survey results, you may want to negotiate a lower price or request that the seller make repairs before completing the purchase. For example if you’ve found a leak in the roof, you may still want to buy the property, but you’ll want the seller to bring down the price a bit, to reflect the defect and cover the cost of you repairing it. The seller may accept, reject or make a counteroffer to any requests.

Exchange of contracts.

Ok, so you and the seller have both agreed to the terms of the sale and the contracts are exchanged. It is worth noting that the timeline between exchange and completion can vary depending on the circumstances of the sale, but it usually takes between 1-4 weeks. This is all done through solicitors, so you can sit back and relax (/bite your nails and think of nothing else) and the sale becomes legally binding. At this point, the buyer usually pays a deposit, usually 5-10% of the purchase price. The good news is that this deposit is pretty often part of your mortgage, so you don’t need to fork out the cash without your loan. You’ll want to check that though. 

Mortgage completion.

If you’re using a mortgage to buy the house, the lender will usually send the mortgage funds to the buyer's solicitor at this stage.

Final checks.

Before completion, the buyer's solicitor will carry out final checks, including checking that all necessary legal documents have been received and that there are no outstanding issues with the property (e.g. if they said they would fix the damp in the bathroom, have they fixed the damp in the bathroom?)

Completing on your house - instant to 4 weeks.


On the agreed completion date, the remaining balance of the purchase price is paid to the seller's solicitor, and you are officially the owner of that 3 bedroom dream family home (/one bedroom bachelor pad/barge/7 bedroom treehouse/whatever floats your boat etc. etc.). The keys are usually handed over on this day.


After you’ve completed, your solicitor will register the transfer of ownership with the Land Registry, and you and your house become official. At this point you’re the legal owner of the property. Congratulations!

Buying a house is a bit of a roller coaster. There can be some twists and turns, and (unlike a rollercoaster…you’d hope) things can go wrong and delay your ideal timeline. You’re dealing with a lot of money (and a lot of emotions!) so you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it with an agent and solicitors you can trust, in order to ensure the buying process is as efficient as possible.

How long does it take to buy a house? FAQs

We estimate that it takes (on average) 15-24 weeks to buy a property. This can be broken down into sorting out your finances (0-1 week), preparation, house hunting and purchasing (6 weeks – 8 months), offering and exchanging (4 -12 weeks) and completing (instantly – 4 weeks).