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Revealed - exactly how long it takes to buy a home in the UK

New research suggests it takes, on average, six months and 24 days to buy a home.

The study, for PropTech virtual tours firm EMEA Matterport, polled 2,000 buyers to dissect each part of the transaction process. 

It found the single longest element was the exchange of contracts which took an average of five months and 10 days after putting in an offer on a new home - although it some cases, the firm claims, it took up to 25 months.


When starting the home-buying process, potential buyers will spend around 20 hours looking at 16 homes online.

Around four days is then spent waiting for a viewing on a potential purchase, with buyers taking a further four-and-a-half days to put in an offer.

It also emerged the average homebuyer will view their future home three times before making an offer, taking three friends or family members with them to help make the decision.

Once the purchase has been agreed, a further 24 days are needed to secure a mortgage offer, and three days to get a solicitor on board.

After contracts are exchanged, keys are finally delivered after nine days.

Of the 2,000 questioned, around a quarter had made offers which were then rejected, making the process even longer – especially for the 12 per cent who put in unsuccessful bids on three or more properties.

It also emerged London is the area in which it takes the longest to buy a house - an average of eight months, compared to just over five months in Scotland and the North East.

Most of those polled expected the whole process would take just under four months, with more than a fifth believing it would be done and dusted in less than two months.

But due to timings, 14 per cent of buyers admitted they had to compromise on their ideal home when choosing a property. Location was the most common sacrifice, while room size and price followed closely behind.

Here are the study’s figures on each element:

- time spent browsing homes to visit online, before choosing one to buy: 19.46 hours;

- time between finding a home online, and getting a viewing: 3.74 days;

- time between the first viewing and putting in an offer on a new home: 4.47 days;

- time taken, once decided to buy, to get a mortgage offer: 23.94 days;

- time taken, once decided to buy, to find a solicitor: 2.98 days;

- time taken to exchange contracts: 5.34 months or 165.54 days;

- time taken once contracts are exchanged, to get keys: 9.47 days;

Total - 210.95 days or 6.8 months

  • Rob Hailstone

    Having just sold my late mum's flat (no other parties or properties involved, buyer and seller only) I am, although disappointed, not surprised at these timescales. It took four months to exchange and complete. Even though leasehold, there were no unusual legal issues to resolve.

    Very sporadic client communication from both the high street solicitor firm (acting on the sale) and the volume conveyancing firm (acting on the purchase), and periods of what looked like no activity at all. It would have been helpful to have had some kind of online view of what stage the transaction was at and who was waiting for who or what (client, mortgage, searches, conveyancers etc).

    In fairness, there was no agent involved but I did most of my own chasing.

    Surely, a seller’s pack being compiled when marketing commenced and a mortgage offer in principle before making an offer would help in most cases?

  • icon

    Indeed, it could be called a Home Information Pack, perhaps HIP for short?

    Oh no, we tried that from 2007 to 2010 but mortgage companies still insisted on carrying out their own surveys at extra cost, apparently not trusting a RICS qualified surveyor paid for by the seller!

    But I still agree with you.


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