All in good time: How long does it REALLY take to sell a house?

Good things come to those who sell

In the world of big fat life goals, timing is everything. From learning to drive to nailing that complicated Beyonce move, your biggest achievements need an appropriate length of time to really perfect. According to Zoopla, it takes approximately 25 weeks to sell a home. That’s from listing to the handing over of keys.

But as all we know, there are myriad outside factors that can slow this process down (thanks to old pull-out-last-minute Barry from number 32) or even speed it up (thank you Mrs oh-so-caffeinated-surveyor on fine form). There are also a lot of time frames within those 25 weeks that take their own sweet time to complete.

Timelines galore

Think offer acceptance timeline. Exchanging timeframe. Pre-soaking your Christmas pudding timeframe…. the list goes on. Check out our timeframe guide to make sense of all this clock-watching and calendar-flipping in the heady realm of house sales.

Listing the property for the first time

Timeframe: learning a Britney dance (one to three days depending on experience)

To list your house, you’ll need to enlist the services of an estate agent (cooee) and agree on a fee for their services. (Honestly we rhyme less in real life). The process usually takes between one to three days. It will involvee making sure that your property has an Energy Performance Certificate in place, as well as taking fabulous photos of the property (again, cooee). Your solicitor may also ask you to provide certain documents when it comes time to sell.

This may include an FENSA certificate for windows and doors, boiler and gas safety certificates, and electrical installation safety certificates. If you had major work done on the property like an extension or renovation, you’ll need to produce planning permits that prove they were all done in line with regulations.

Applying for these retrospectively can take up to 13 weeks or more. Oof. To make your home more attractive to buyers, consider giving it a little cosmetic touch-up. Add new paint, declutter, or tidy up the garden. It’s Britney-makeover time for your house’s comeback performance of a lifetime.

Listing a property to having an offer accepted 

Timeframe: soaking your Christmas pud in brandy (2 to 10 weeks)

The time it takes to get this bit perfected is hotly debated. One that Nigella herself doesn’t know for certain – largely depending on the strength of the brandy. And, indeed, the strength of the market if we’re talking about getting an offer on that fruity property of yours. From the day you list to celebrating an offer can take anywhere between 2 to 10 weeks. Much like the length of time it takes to absorb the goodness of the liquor into your sultana-rich pud.

If the local market is as hot as your festive desert, then it’s likely you will receive an offer in roughly 3.5 weeks. If the local market is as limp and cold as your uncle’s accompanying custard, you could be waiting much longer for a bite. Sometimes, up to several months without making changes. Fewer buyers are present in a cooler market and they tend to be very particular when choosing a property. Have another mince pie while you wait.

Searches to exchange of contracts 

Timeframe: house training a naughty puppy (12 to 16 weeks)

And so we reach the longest stage. Some might say the most tedious. The most frustrating. The most times you’ll cry, “no, god, no why is it leaking all over the living room carpet?”. It’s the official part of the house buying and selling process that begins as soon as you accept an offer. Try not to let this coincide with actual house training a wayward puppy. You might end up sailing off to sea and never coming back. At this stage, the buyer must cover fees for legal work. You should also have a solicitor to answer any burning questions.

To ensure everything is above board, the buyer’s legal team will carry out searches on your property. Including those from local authorities looking for issues with transport networks or nearby building works. Plus, environmental checks investigating potential threats like flooding or landslides, water and drainage surveys to see if there are public sewers and pipes in the area. A Land Registry search willl prove that you actually own the home being sold.

Whilst all of this is being carried out, the buyer’s solicitor will be liaising with other solicitors in the chain to create contracts and agree exchange and completion dates. The buyer will also need to organise their mortgage over a four week period, and so you could use this time to make sure there aren’t any horrifying stains in the bathroom carpet from your dearest Mr Snuggles.

Exchange to completion

Timeframe: getting addicted to Married at First Sight (1-28 days)

Once the contracts have been exchanged in the home buying process, it would be preeeetty expensive (10% of the purchase price) for your buyer to walk away from the sale. Completion is at the very end of the process when your buyer officially becomes the new owner and can move into the property. Due to most of the work having been done by exchange, there isn’t much need to put a large gap between exchange and completion. In certain scenarios, people may opt to complete and exchange on the same day; however, this can be difficult and is not recommended.

Much like marrying someone you’ve only just met in the name of public entertainment. Usually, it takes between one to four weeks to complete once contracts have been exchanged. But in our case, it’s from the moment one unfortunate groom accidentally says “I love you” at the altar to a woman he met five seconds prior and all hell breaks loose amongst the bridesmaids. HOOKED!

While this is a rather well-informed guide, there are many outside factors that can slow down a house sale, from broken chains to solicitor delays and problems thrown up by surveys. We, however, know exactly what to do in any eventuality, so its worth having your trusty estate agent on speed dial to nip any potential delays in the bud before they become a real problem. We’ve seen it all and we’re here for it!

Contact us: – Lettings Director (contact for lettings and property management) – Sales Director (contact for sales, new homes and chartered surveying)

020 3820 2492

Davies & Davies Estate Agents, 85 Stroud Green Road, London, N4 3EG

Article & images by Barefaced Studios

You might also want to read other useful blog articles by clicking here.

23 November 2023
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