Generally speaking, it can take around 12 weeks for the sale process to reach completion. This is starting from when you first put down an offer. The actual buying process starts much earlier than when you start to look for a property to buy as you have to prepare well in advance. With that in mind, it’s very difficult to put a timeframe to the buying process as it can realistically take up to six months to finalise. Depending on the competition between other buyers and any complications down the chain, it can take a while for every party to agree and settle. We also need to take into consideration that buyers and sellers may pull out, setting back the process even further. These aren’t factors within your control but will still slow the process down.

To give you a better idea of what the buying process involves and how long it should take if there are no complications, we’ve set out each step.

Understanding the Home Buying Process

Before you start to book in viewings, you should familiarise yourself with the buying process and factor in all the expenses that you will inevitably start to accrue. You should also be aware of the third parties that you will need to reach out to as part of the process. You are going to need a solicitor to act as a conveyancer as well as a mortgage lender if you need to borrow to cover the cost of the property. While it’s not an essential requirement, you should also be prepared to speak to a chartered surveyor to assess the property’s condition.

Step 1: Calculate and prepare your finances

Working out the details of your finances ahead of time will speed things up when you start to look for a mortgage package. Getting a clear picture of your savings and how much you can spend monthly on your mortgage payments will make it easier for you to present your case to the mortgage lender you choose. You will need to check your credit score before you even begin. If you need to improve your credit score, it’s a good idea to get started to help your success when applying for a mortgage.

Step 2: Finding a house

This step is one of the hardest to gauge in terms of timescales. You could end up finding your ideal property relatively quickly if you know exactly what you’re looking for. Your first step is to decide on the location where you want to search. If you’re looking to move to a different town and region, you may want to explore the area and research ahead of booking in viewings. You can then reach out to a local estate agent. As you’ll have a good idea of your budget, they will be able to assist with putting together a portfolio of properties for you to consider. You can also easily carry out the search yourself online.

We always recommend that you book in as many property viewing as you can to get a good idea of what’s available on the market and what you can afford with your budget. This step can take weeks or months depending on the success of your search.

Step 3: Putting in an offer

This step is one of the most straight-forward as it’s managed on your behalf by the estate agent who has the property listed. All you have to do is tell them the offer that you’d like to present to the buyer. It’s also worth making clear what makes you an attractive buyer and will make the seller more likely to accept your offer. If you have strong finances and can put down a large deposit, you’re more likely to get a mortgage secured. If you’re a first time buyer, you aren’t part of a moving chain so there’s less chance of you experiencing delays from other buyers and sellers in your chain.

While this step could realistically be sorted within a couple of days if the buyer agrees without any negotiation, it can potentially be drawn out. If the property has a lot of interest, you may be caught in a bidding process where you will need to negotiate. After at least a week or two, you should reach an agreement – either getting a counter-offer agreed or deciding to look elsewhere.

Step 4: Secure a mortgage

This step more-or-less coincides with putting in an offer as you’ll want to get this done as soon as possible. As you will already have your finances prepared for the application process, this should be relatively easy if you know which lender to approach. Some estate agents will want to see that you have started this process before going in with an offer so check first so you know when to start.

It can take two weeks to a month to get your mortgage secured. To help with this process, you may wish to reach out to a mortgage advisor so you have peace of mind when going in. A mortgage broker will manage this on your behalf. Once you get your mortgage approved, the lender will give you an agreement in principle (an AIP). This may be what clinches getting an offer approved so make sure you are prepped well in advance when applying for a mortgage.

Step 5: Manage the legalities with a conveyancer

Unless you’re a solicitor yourself, you’re not going to be able to handle this step on your own. All the legalities behind owning a property have to be dealt by a registered conveyancer. A conveyancer is a type of solicitor who specifically focuses on property law. They will manage the contracts and all the paperwork. This step can end up taking the longest as there are many variables that can hold up the process. It can take around 10 weeks for the conveyancing and if you’re part of a long chain, it’ll take longer. There will be a lot of back-and-forth between your conveyancer and the seller’s. Matters such as land registry, checking planning permission issues, doing background research will all be handled on your behalf.

Step 6: Surveys

Before everything is finalised, you’ll want to get a homebuyers survey completed at the property. There are different types of survey available, but a homebuyers survey is specifically tailored for the purpose. You don’t have to legally arrange for a survey but it is highly recommended. You will want to know everything about the property that you’re agreeing to buy. After all, it’s a lot of money to put forward and if there are any unforeseen issues with the property, you’ll be the one inheriting all those problems. It’s on the buyer to arrange the survey. When looking for a surveyor to carry out the survey, make sure that they are certified with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) which you can check here.

Step 7: The Exchange of Contracts

Once everything is set up with your conveyancer, contracts will then be exchanged for the sale to be agreed. It can take just a couple of days to have the contracts delivered. You will agree to a completion day for when you can move into the property.

Step 8: Completion and Moving In

The last step is completion. At this final step, this is when you will need to cover any outstanding fees. You will need to pay stamp duty land tax unless you are a first time buyer and the property value is under £450,000.

You’ll receive the keys from the estate agent and then you can move in.

Common Challenges in Buying a Home

As you likely know, it’s not always plain sailing when buying a property. Issues can crop up that will cause deals. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prepare ahead of time to prevent these from happening.

Issues with conveyancing

This is where the delays are most likely to crop up. Disagreements in contracts and delays with paperwork set back the legal side of things.

Survey surprises

As a result of a survey, you might uncover an issue. This may end up affecting whether you want to go ahead with the purchase. It can also put you in a position to negotiate on the property value. If there are structural issues that need immediate repair, you can request the seller to fix before going ahead or deduct the costs from the price so you can take on these repairs yourself. Your conveyancer will support you if this happens and will relay to the estate agent on your behalf.

Delays in the chain

Unfortunately, you’re not the only party who may be encountering setbacks. If you’re part of a long chain, you could be facing a challenge to get things moving as fast as possible.

Wish to find out about buying property in Eastbourne?

The process for buying a home will be much the same wherever you choose to move. However, if you are looking to buy in Eastbourne, we can help. Town Property is the longest established estate agent in Eastbourne. Our team has finalised thousands of purchases. We work closely with buyers and sellers to make sure that they get the best agreements for their properties.

Buying a property, whether it’s your first time or not, can be a daunting prospect. We are here to help give as much support and advice along the way. Feel free to contact our team either through our contact form or you can give us a call on 01323 416600. We’ll answer any questions you have.