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Answering 'how long does it take to sell a house', as well as what you can do to speed up your house sale...

When it comes to selling your house on the open market, it can be a lengthy and stressful process, enough to put you off selling your house altogether.

You may end up sitting on the market for months, maybe even over a year, leaving you frustratedly thinking ‘how long does it take to sell a house?!’ – in fact, that’s possibly how you ended up here!

Well, look no further, as we’re going to detail exactly how long it takes to sell a house, why house sales are taking so long currently and what you can do to speed up your sale.

Want to sell your house asap?

How long does it take to sell a house?

The length of time taken to sell a house will be dependent upon your selling situation. There are many different factors affecting the amount of time it will take to sell a house, for example, the state of the property market, the type of buyer you’re looking for and your property type.

Having said this, the average time taken to sell a house is around 4 to 6 months, with it being closer to 4 months in a ‘hot’ market and over 6 in a ‘cold’ market.

To get a better idea of the breakdown of the length of time taken for each stage, we’ve broken down the timeline for selling a house.

How long does it take to sell a house – the timeline:

Choosing an estate agent – a few weeks

To start the process, you will want to choose an estate agent who’s going to present your house in the best light to viewers, in order to get your house sold ASAP, or at least in line with your needs.

Often, people tend to already have an estate agent in mind that they would like to use, but it’s always a good idea to get a few to look around and give you their valuation.

Once you’ve spoken to the different estate agents, it’s time for you to choose your favourite one and sign the estate agent contract. Once you’ve signed the contract, you can also get your photos, floorplans and an EPC done.

Viewings – 1->14 weeks

Once you’re up and running on the open market with your estate agent, it’s time to get interested parties in for viewings. The length of time and the number of viewings taken to sell your house will vary, so we can’t give you a specific number of weeks for this step.

The Advisory has stated it could take up to 14 weeks to accept an offer on your property, with cold market conditions extending this even further.

Don’t worry though – if you need your house sold faster than this, we have something which will help you be sold and have your sale completed in a matter of weeks, but you will have to read ahead to the end section to find out more…

Accepting an offer to property searches

Once you finally get an offer that you’re happy with and you’re able to accept it, it can feel like you’ve made it to the end. Unfortunately, though, the process doesn’t end there…

Once you’ve accepted the offer, the conveyancing process can now begin. The main part of this process will be waiting for your buyer’s solicitor to organise searches on your property.

After the searches have been done, providing your buyer and their solicitor are happy with the outcome, you can move towards exchange.

This stage of the process is just one of the stages where the sale could fall through – if your buyer isn’t happy with the outcome of the property searches, they may try to renegotiate or they may pull out of the sale altogether.

Searches to exchange – 8 weeks

Once the searches have been ordered, it can take up to 8 weeks before they’re completed, with the paperwork done and in order to be able to exchange contracts.

Exchange of contracts is the stage of the process where the deal becomes legally binding, so you will want to get to exchange as soon as possible in order to avoid any buyer pulling out of the deal, leaving you with no buyer.

Sometimes buyers may try to gazunder you just before exchange, leaving you in a difficult situation, which again can lead to the sale falling through.

Exchange to completion – average of 2 weeks, can take up to 4

Once you’ve exchanged contracts, the only thing left for you to do is to pack up and get ready for completion day, also known as the day that you move out.

We’ve put this could take up to 4 weeks, but it will really be down to you and your buyer how long this stage takes, with some leaving only a week between exchange and completion, and others wanting a delayed completion.

On completion day, you will get the money from selling your property transferred into your bank (minus the estate agent fees, solicitor’s fees, etc) and you can hand in your keys and move out!

Put off by the long selling timeline?

Why are house sales taking so long?

Whilst with dropping COVID restrictions the country started to feel we can look forward, unfortunately, the housing market is still feeling the lasting effects.

After the initial lockdown in March 2020, the ‘Stamp Duty Holiday’ was introduced helping to kickstart the property market, in turn helping to boost the economy.

As a result of the holiday allowing buyers of houses up to £500,000 to not pay a penny on Stamp Duty tax, many people who wanted to move or had considered moving did go ahead with moving house to benefit from the relief.

However, whilst this felt like a great idea at the time, as the economy was seriously struggling from the country being completely closed down, it didn’t come without taking its toll on estate agents, solicitors, surveyors and all other people involved in house transactions.

They have become overloaded with work, which caused a severe backlog, making it impossible to get through a house sale on the open market quickly.

Research from ‘GetAgent’ stated it was taking 118 days to get an offer accepted on your property and a further 156 days for the property sale to complete, even after the end of the Stamp Duty Holiday last year, showing the lasting impact of the tax relief.

On top of this, although we’re a year down the line from the end of the Stamp Duty Holiday, COVID is still an existing factor, with some places having their staff reduced at any one time by COVID infections.

Also, some companies may still be working from home, meaning that staff may not have access to all the documents and software they need straight away, causing delays to each process.

This explains why, despite the drop in restrictions and the feel of moving forward, COVID is still causing havoc on the property market and causing house sales to take longer than they really SHOULD.

Having said this, these delays mainly apply to those selling their property on the open market and not those selling to a cash buyer.

A cash buyer will reduce the amount of time taken to push your property sale through, with them having the funds readily available and not often wanting a survey, the amount of paperwork is reduced meaning the process is faster.

Cash house buying companies, like ourselves, also offer a more streamlined service and they have relationships with surveyors and solicitors, meaning the process can be pushed through in a week from start to finish!

What will affect how long it takes to sell?

There are a number of factors that will affect the length of time it takes you to sell your property. No two house sales are the same, so all the approximate timescales we’ve given do need to be taken with a ‘pinch of salt’, as your sale could end up being much quicker or much slower!

Below are the different factors that will impact the length of your sale:

  • Your property’s location – some areas will be more desirable than others and so this will impact how quickly your property is snapped up

  • Your chosen sales method – selling on the open market with an estate agent will be slower than selling through auction or to a cash buyer

  • The property’s size – naturally everyone has different wants and needs when it comes to the size of a property, so it will just be a matter of waiting for the person wanting your property size to come along

  • Your property type – houses tend to sell faster than flats, with a house taking an average of 42 days compared to 62 days for a flat

  • The property’s condition – as you may expect, a house in a good condition will sell much faster compared to one which needs a large amount of money spent on it

  • The price – more expensive properties tend to take longer to sell, as there are fewer buyers able to afford that price level

  • The type of buyer – if you have a buyer who requires a mortgage to buy your house, this will cause delays to your property’s length of sale, compared to selling to a cash buyer

  • The market conditions – if the market is a buyer’s market, then your property will take longer to sell, as it will be one of MANY houses on the market. However, in a seller’s market, you would expect the reverse and for your house to sell quicker

  • The condition of your neighbour’s properties – whilst you may think only the condition of your property matters, this isn’t the case, with buyers not wanting to purchase a property which is surrounded by poor quality houses

  • The number of comparables – if your house has a lot of similar properties in the local area, you will find it takes your property longer to sell as there are a lot of similar options available

  • The quality of your solicitor and estate agent – it’s important you have a solicitor and estate agent who understand your needs and how quickly you want to move. Your estate agent will be the driving force throughout the whole sale process, with your solicitor coming in after you’ve accepted an offer to get the sale completed

Worried buyers may be put off by one of these factors?

How long does a sale of a house take with no chain?

As you may expect, the sale of a house with no chain will be a lot quicker compared to one with a property chain. Exactly how long will be up to the solicitors and estate agent you have chosen; however it can take as little as 10 days.

It has to be said it is rare that it takes as few as 10 days, with 6 weeks being the more common and realistic timescale.

If you sell to a cash buying company, like ourselves, the process can be completed in as little as 7 days, or a timescale of your choice. It’s clear to see why it’s tempting to sell a property to a chain-free buyer.

How can I speed up the sale of my house?

If you’ve been stuck on the open market and you’re starting to think to yourself ‘HOW long does it take to sell a house?!’, then the good news is we have some top tips on what you can do to help you speed up your sale:

  • Choose your estate agent wisely – if you’re wanting to ensure a speedy sale, it’s important you choose one who will be proactive and are in complete understanding of your wants and needs. Your estate agent is going to be key to pushing your sale through, as they will be in touch with the buyer, the buyer’s solicitor and your solicitor to ensure the process is running quickly and smoothly

  • Set a fair price – whilst it can be tempting to go with the highest valuation, it’s important you pick a price that is fair for your property. Otherwise, you will end up putting off potential buyers as they’re unable to afford the high price. Also, if you choose a price that is ridiculously low for your property, buyers may be put off as they may think there’s something wrong with your property to explain why it’s priced so low

  • Sell when the market is optimal – timing your sale right can be critical when it comes to speeding up the selling process, meaning you will generally want to look to sell your house in the spring months. Also, keep an eye on the condition of the market and if you notice it’s a seller’s market then it’s a good idea to jump on that

  • Give your house a ‘face lift’ – whether this is a declutter, some DIY or a more serious renovation, getting your house into its most presentable state will stand it in a better position when it comes to speeding up your property sale

  • Consider selling with multiple estate agents – selling with two different estate agents can create a bit of healthy competition, meaning both agents will be working hard to push your sale through ASAP. It could also mean a bit of competition if both agents find you a buyer, which can help to start a bidding war. Having said this, not many agents will allow you to sell with another agent too and, even if they do, it can be hard to manage two agents

  • Sell to a cash buyer – selling your property to a cash buyer will dramatically speed up the sale process, as cash buyers have their funds readily available meaning they don’t need to go through the process of getting a mortgage. On top of this, often cash buyers aren’t bothered about having searches done on the property, cutting down the conveyancing process drastically.

Also, a cash buyer is a chain-free buyer, meaning your sale won’t be slowed by waiting for the rest of the chain to exchange and complete on their sales.

Cash buying companies are also able to complete in a timescale of your choice, meaning how long it takes to sell your house is completely up to you! They will also handle all the paperwork and the whole process for you from start to finish, making it a hassle-free sale for you.

Having said all this, are cash buyers really that easy to find?

Yes, you’re looking right at one!

Here at The Property Buying Company, we’re a cash buyer of property, buying any house in any condition and location! We’re able to complete in a timescale completely of your choice, with our speciality being fasts sales. A week, a month, a year, the choice is yours!

We also handle all the legal bits for you, leaving you with no confusing paperwork and no legal fees to pay, as we will cover them for you! In fact, selling to us you won’t have to pay a penny.

We will only require one quick viewing to make sure our offer is accurate and then we will confirm with you our cash offer – should you accept, this is the FULL amount you will get in your bank!

We’re also a member of The Property Ombudsman and the National Association of Property Buyers, with an ‘excellent’ rating on Trustpilot with over 1,000 reviews – with us you’re in safe hands!

Ready to find out the answer to how long does it take to sell a house to us? Give us a call or fill in our online form for a no-obligation CASH offer, which we can have in your bank by next week, hassle-free…

Ready to sell fast and fee-free?
Tom Condon

Tom Condon, one of our content writers, has fascinating expertise in sustainability in the property industry. Tom thoroughly understands the market and has experience in both residential and commercial property. He enjoys attending conferences and staying current with the most recent property trends.