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30 May 2022

A Full Breakdown of the House Buying Process

For first-time buyers looking to start the buying process, you might be wondering how long the whole process can take.

The reason why buying a home can take so long is because it involves many different people. You are essentially transferring the ownership of a property which needs to follow a range of stages, meaning things can go wrong and it can take time.

This guide will run through every stage to help you understand the process and how long each step can take.

It’s important to remember that every purchase is different and there are plenty of things that can impact how the process progresses.

Contact a Broker and Get a Mortgage in Principle

If you have no idea what price bracket you can afford, getting a mortgage in principle agreement will help with this. Make this your first step when you’re ready to buy a property.

A mortgage in principle will calculate how much you can afford and what loan you qualify for. Your credit report and financial history will be used for this.

Not only this but going to an estate agent with a mortgage in principle shows them that you’re ready to buy, helping the process run more smoothly. You’ll also save time when it comes to house hunting as you’ll know exactly what price point to look for, avoiding any mortgage rejections.

However, it’s key to remember that even with this pre-approval in place there is no guarantee that you will get this exact deal from a lender when it comes to getting a mortgage.

Estimated time: 24 hours after you speak to a broker or lender

Read on: Tips for Saving For a Mortgage Deposit

House Hunt and Making an Offer

Once you know what you can afford, you can start to arrange viewings for your dream home (in your price point). You could be lucky and find a home you love right away, or it can take weeks or even months before you find a house you’d like to buy. This isn’t a decision you want to rush, so don’t put any pressure or expectations on yourselves to find one quickly.

When you find a property you’re happy with, you can make an offer. When deciding how much to offer, you should consider how long the property has been on the market, what the market is currently like and whether others are also interested in the property.

Your conveyancer can make the offer on your behalf to the estate agents.

Estimated time: weeks to months

Mortgage Application, Surveys and Contracts

If your offer gets accepted, this is when things start getting serious. Your mortgage in agreement will be looked at and confirmed, and once all the checks have been done, your lender will then do a valuation on the property to verify what the property is worth. This can take a couple of weeks.

Once this is back and the lender is happy to both lend to you and on the property, you’ll receive an official mortgage offer.

During this time, your conveyancer will be drafting your contracts with the seller, their conveyancer and the Land Registry. As this will be done to an in-depth extent, you can expect this to take between one and five weeks.

There are some other checks that will also take place during this time, such as any risks, planning issues or construction nearby. You may want your own personal surveys to be conducted to check the physical state of the property and any problems this can cause.

Estimated time: 3 weeks to 12 weeks

Read on: How to Boost Your Chances of Getting Accepted for a Mortgage

Exchange to Completion

With your mortgage offer in place and property searched and surveyed, you can exchange your contracts which can take up to 30 days.

Next, you’ll pay the deposit to the solicitor to make the agreement official and legal. You will also have a completion date; this can be anything from days to weeks.

Other things you should do during this time include:

  • Look into getting building insurance as you are now legally bound to it.
  • You may still have a couple of documents to sign from your conveyancer such as a completion statement.
  • Your conveyancer will need to get the funds from your lender ready for completion day.

Estimated time: up to 12 weeks

The Final Stage

It’s official! The keys will be handed over and you can now move into your new home. Before getting too comfy, keep these tasks in mind:

  • Pay the stamp duty tax on your property. Your conveyancer will have all the information you need such as how much you owe and when to pay.
  • Register your ownership of the property with the Land Registry.
  • Your conveyancer will have copies of the title deeds to send across to you and your lender.

Estimated time: around two weeks

To Sum Up

The property buying process is different for everyone, there are lots of things that can delay it so don’t let it get you down if it takes longer than expected. In most cases, it can take around six months but by the end of it you will have your own property to make into your first home.


Laura Waller

Laura Waller has been working in the mortgages industry since 2013, joining an independent brokerage in Essex. Laura has CeMAP 2 & 3 – Certificates in Mortgages Advice and Practice. Since then Laura oversees marketing for Mortgages Online, using her experience and expertise to write articles and blogs about mortgages and related topics.

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