How Long Does It Take to Buy a House?28th July 2023
‘How long does it take to buy a house?’ This is a key question for countless first-time homeowners and continues to linger in the minds of landlords eager to expand their portfolios.
The house buying process can be quite intimidating, especially for first-time home owners. To make things more confusing, the timeline to buy is different for everyone!
That’s why we’ve put together this guide. We’ll be talking timelines and the steps you’ll need to take to ensure you’re in the best position for your purchase offer to be accepted.
Let’s take a look.
House buying process and timeline
Though it’s impossible to give an exact timeline, as many factors will influence how quickly you can secure your home, we can advise on a typical scenario.
Step 1: Find an agent and start browsing available properties (0-2 weeks)
‘When starting the home buying process, potential buyers will look at more than 16 homes online across a period of just under 20 hours.’ – Marc Shoffman, Property Industry Eye.
The tedium of house hunting manually can be time consuming, leading many to enlist support. Enter the estate agent to speed the process up.
Time-wise, if we account for up to four days spent waiting for a house viewing after shortlisting houses online, and, say you’d like to view the same home once or twice – with your loved ones in tow to share their own opinions, of course! – it should take no more than two weeks, generously, to find yourself an agent, browse through available properties, and view them in person.
Without delays, we’d really advise a week.
Estate agents can streamline the browsing process and ensure their services – and any properties for sale – are easily discoverable online.
Interested in browsing the current available properties for sale? Check out our most recent listings or give us a call to talk to an agent.
Step 2: Secure a mortgage (2-4 weeks)
The bane of house buyers far and wide is, more often than not, securing a mortgage. Securing a mortgage can be challenging for a number of reasons, such as:
- Having outstanding debt
- A bad credit score
- Not being registered to vote
- Trying to borrow too much money
- Finding an appropriate mortgage lender
It’s also important to have a perfect mortgage application! Ultimately, though, after having an offer accepted on your dream property and completing the mortgage application process, the average time to secure a mortgage is 2-4 weeks, depending on the mortgage provider you choose. Some house buyers apply directly to a building society or bank, too, which may shift the timeframe a little.
How many times my salary can I borrow for a mortgage?
Use JonSimon’s mortgage calculator to find out how much you could borrow to secure your perfect property in Manchester or Lancashire. Generally, you can borrow up to five times your salary!
Step 3: Make an offer (3 days to a week)
Making an offer takes no time at all. What prolongs this part of the property purchase is whether or not your offer is accepted, how the negotiation takes place, and the complexity of the property you’d like to purchase.
Sometimes, when viewing a property, you can make an offer within the hour! If you choose to make an offer via us, our agents will act as your go-between, passing your offer onto the seller and ensuring there are no unnecessary delays.
You’ll often hear within three days whether your offer has been accepted or not! However, be prepared to wait a week – properties are in high demand at the moment, and sellers can be spoilt for choice. To sweeten your offer, it’s worth considering additional bonuses, like a mortgage agreement in principle, your deposit, and flexibility with move-in dates.
Step 4: Get a building survey – optional (0-1 week)
While it is optional to hire a building surveyor, we always recommend it. A thorough property survey can help you identify any issues that devalue your future house and might pose financial difficulty to you later – especially if any problems are structural.
Get your free online home valuation here.
Step 5: Exchange contracts (0-2 weeks)
First, before you exchange contracts with a seller – which usually takes no more than 2 weeks – hire a conveyancing solicitor! A conveyancer is experienced in property law and can comb through your soon-to-be property and the pesky paperwork involved. This includes coordinating and overseeing dates for the exchange of contracts.
Exchanging contracts is when a property transaction becomes legally binding, which, while it isn’t quite the completion day, is a major step in assuring your home ownership.
Step 6: Complete the purchase and get the keys (1 day to 2 weeks)
Once contracts are exchanged and the sale of the house is complete, you can move right in! This is what completion day is, the day where you get your keys and both you and your real estate agent can congratulate themselves on a job well done.
This could take as little as a day, but rarely as long as two weeks.
How long does it take to buy a house?
Of course, your house timeline will vary. As a rough guide, and following the above steps, house hunters can expect the process to take around twelve weeks.
How can you speed up the process?
Desperate to purchase the property you’ve been waiting for? The following can help to fast-track the process:
- Consider becoming a cash house buyer: Selling to a cash house buyer tends to be a quicker process because you don’t need to apply for a mortgage to fund the purchase. But, you must have the money to buy the house outright so it’s not an option for everyone.
- Get an agreement in principle: As we’ve touched on above, a mortgage agreement in principle (AIP) is a statement from your chosen mortgage lender to say that they would lend you a certain amount. An AIP speeds up the buying process as both the seller and estate agent will be assured that you’re a suitable applicant.
- Organise all important paperwork: Fumbling around for important paperwork, like a signed contract or certificate of your AIP, can easily prolong the house buying process indefinitely. So, be sure to organise important paperwork as you go!
- Have your closing funds ready: On closing day, you’ll have to pay the amount of ‘cash to close’ required to secure the property. Not to worry, you’ll know the amount of money needed to complete your house purchase in advance, so make sure to have your closing funds ready ahead of time.
- Be responsive: At the end of the day, be responsive in all things! Finish up and return important documents quickly and thoroughly. Communicate with your solicitor and estate agent regularly, too. This way, you get updates on the buying process as soon as they come in.
What should you look out for when house hunting?
To make sure you’re not going into house hunting blind, there are factors to look out for to make sure you really are purchasing the perfect property:
- Condition of the house
- Up-to-date floor plan showing size and layout
- Clear property boundaries
- Energy efficiency
- Nearby noise pollution
- Natural light
The above are factors that will affect your quality of life inside the house, so it’s important to bear them in mind during the house buying process.
And the red flags to consider?
As you’d expect, things don’t always run smoothly when buying your home, and parties don’t always play fair. As such, red flags include:
- Structural issues – Cracks in the walls, missing tiles on the roof, exposed wires, uneven floors, etc.
- Water damage – Stains, mould, and poor odours can indicate several problems with a property – namely poor drainage, leaks, and shoddy plumbing.
- Signs of pests – Rodents and insects can make a house unsuitable for living. Keep an eye out for droppings, damaged wood, or chewed wires.
- Unregulated renovations – An extension added on without proper permission can be expensive to demolish later on. Make sure any additional renovations to your new home were made up to par. If not, misfortune may await!
- The surrounding neighbourhood – If a beautiful house is in a neighbourhood with high crime or deteriorating property values, even the nicest house can become a poor investment.
JonSimon: The go-to estate agent for properties in Manchester & Lancashire
With over 15 years of experience as an award-winning team of estate agents, we at JonSimon are – without doubt! – the go-to estate agent for properties in Manchester and Lancashire. If you want a property to rent or are a first-time buyer looking for a family home, we have you covered.
Our local knowledge of North West properties is extensive. With us, you’ll always get the best value for your money when buying and selling. Rest assured, our glowing testimonials are something we continuously strive to maintain.
Looking to scale the property ladder but yet to find an agent you can trust? Contact JonSimon today.