Updated: July 2023
Do you have a house that you’re ready to sell?
If so, you’re probably eager to get it off the market and into the hands of a new owner. But what is the realistic time frame for this?
How long it takes to sell a house can vary depending on a number of factors, including the current market conditions, the location of your home, and the condition of your home.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the factors that affect the time it takes to sell a house, and we’ll offer some tips on how to sell your home more quickly.
- How Long the House Selling Process Takes
- Overview of the UK Housing Market
- Getting an Energy Performance Certificate
- Marketing your House
- Choosing a Solicitor or Conveyancer
- Viewings, Receiving & Accepting an Offer
- Searches, Legal Inquiries & House Buyers Survey
- Exchanging of Contracts
- Final verdict: How Long Does it Really take to Sell your House?
How Long the House Selling Process Takes (Explained in 7 Steps)
The UK Housing Market: An Overview
Average UK Home Selling Times (At a Glance)
The UK housing market is a dynamic entity, shaped by diverse influences such as economic trends, governmental policies, demographic shifts, and regional disparities.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the average house price in the UK as of 2022 was £256,000, demonstrating a significant rise over the past decade. However, the average time it takes to sell a house in the UK can be more challenging to pin down due to the vast regional differences. Later on in this article, you will find more detailed information on the factors affecting property sales.
Average Number Of Viewings To Sell A House
How long it takes to sell a house is highly dependent on how many viewings can be arranged. According to an independent house seller advice service, the average number of viewing required across all markets is approximately 10.
Interestingly, this number stays fairly consistent across markets. However, the actual data has a wide spread, many sellers can hope to be exchanging contracts in just a few viewings. Particularly if you are following the advice in this article.
How Quickly Can You Sell a House?
According to Homelight, in March homes spent an average of 54 days on the market but this figure can swing significantly. For instance, homes in hot markets like London and Manchester often sell much faster, while properties in more rural or less sought-after areas may stay on the market for longer periods.
What Might Delay a House Sale?
At the same time, the UK housing market is heavily influenced by broader economic conditions. Interest rates, employment levels, and consumer confidence can all impact buyer demand and thus, the time it takes to sell a house. For instance, periods of economic uncertainty or high-interest rates can lengthen selling times as buyers are less willing or able to purchase properties.
The UK market is a complex system that presents both challenges and opportunities to sellers. The subsequent sections of this article will delve into the key factors influencing selling times and provide tips for optimising your home selling strategy.
Let’s go into actual time frames and how long each step of a house sale could take.
1) Getting an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
Getting an EPC is the first part of our house-selling process timeline. It’s a legal requirement to provide potential buyers with an EPC, so you must get this before you begin the marketing process. This involves an accredited assessor determining your property’s energy efficiency and typical annual energy costs and then detailing it in a simple-to-understand report. The house will be rated from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and last 10 years.
There are slightly different requirements for EPCs in Scotland than those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Full details and how to find a local assessor local are listed at www.gov.uk. Once you contact a firm, they’ll usually arrange an appointment in 48-72 hours. The assessment takes 30-45 minutes, and the certificate is provided on payment (anything between £50-£100 + VAT, so it can pay to shop around).
Time Scale: 1-7 Days
2) Marketing your House
Once you’ve decided to sell your home and got your finances in order, efficient marketing is the first hurdle. It’s essential to get several valuations as to your property’s worth and do your own investigations. Your choices regarding showcasing your home to potential buyers are to do it yourself, using the services of a high street estate agent or an online agent.
There are pros and cons to each option. The DIY option may save you money (up to 2.5% of the sale price in the case of some estate agents’ fees). However, going it alone doesn’t allow you to advertise your house on the two largest online property portals, Right Move and Zoopla. Only homes advertised through an agent can be shown here.
Online agents get you onto these virtual property platforms and tend to charge lower fees than traditional estate agents. However, they don’t offer the personal touch of their high street cousins, and in many cases, you’ll also have to do a proportion of the marketing yourself.
The Home Owners Alliance gives some great advice on whether or not self-marketing or online agents might be suitable for your situation and tips on how to go about it.
Whichever option you choose, it’s essential to get your house in order for the all-important photo session. This is the instrumental grandstand for your property, so it pays to take time to get everything ship shape before the pictures are snapped. Depending on the state of your house, this could be anything from a quick tidy-up to a full-on repaint and garden makeover.
Time Scale: Assuming no major refurbishment necessary 7-14 days
3) Choosing a Solicitor or Conveyancer
Conveyancing is another one of those stages of selling a house.
Conveyancing is the name given to all the legalities involved with the sale of a property. This has to be done via a solicitor or licensed conveyancer. Even though they don’t come into play until you’ve accepted an offer, it’s wise to have them in place early in the selling process.
Take some time to decide who you’re going to instruct because issues such as an unresponsive solicitor can increase stress levels during what is already a demanding process.
Time Scale: Less than 24 hours once you’ve decided on who to use
4) Viewings, Accepting & Receiving an Offer
Viewings are a necessary evil to find a buyer. Yes, it means you have to keep your house tidy. Yes, it’s disruptive to your day-to-day existence, but it’s the only way to find genuine house buyers.
When an offer’s received, this isn’t necessarily the figure you and the buyer will eventually agree upon. House sales inevitably include an amount of ‘horse trading’, during which time you’ll try to get the buyer to increase their offer, and the seller will attempt to get you to lower your price. The intended outcome is to decide on an acceptable amount for both parties. During the haggling process, the house will likely still be in view to other prospective buyers. However, once a price has been agreed upon, then it’s said to be ‘sold stc’
What is the meaning of sold STC?: Sold STC means ‘sold subject to contract‘.
A 2019 study by Zoopla determined that the average time it takes for a house to receive an acceptable offer is 7 weeks, or 50 days, from the day it first goes on the market. This is the median amount of time after taking both a buyer’s market and a seller’s market into consideration. Then, of course, there’s a geographical shift, with houses in Scotland attracting offers in the shortest time of 39 days and those in London taking a much longer 58 days.
Time Scale: 21-49 days
5) Searches, Legal Inquiries & House Buyers Survey
This is the point that all the legalities of a house sale – known as conveyancing – come into play. These tasks include:
- Reviewing the mortgage offer – this includes a valuation report for the lender’s benefit to ensure that the property is worth the agreed sale price.
- Dealing with Land Registry regarding property ownership, title deeds, property boundaries etc.
- Searches, of which the main ones are a local authority, water & property and environmental. With over 340 local authorities around the UK, it’s impossible to give an exact time scale. Turnarounds vary dramatically, from as little as 48 hours to several weeks.
- Arranging for stamp duty land tax (if applicable)
- Handling all aspects of the contract
- Providing any necessary legal guidance
In addition, a house buyer’s survey will be carried out. This is the process by which a Chartered Surveyor inspects the property’s condition.
There are three types of house surveys:
- A condition report – suitable for standard properties, those that are relatively modern and in good condition.
- A homebuyer report – suitable for properties in a reasonable state of repair
- A building survey – generally used for older properties, those of higher value, significant renovation projects and those in poor condition.
Time Scale: The average time for the conveyancing and the survey to be carried out is 28-84 days
Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule, and this could be as little as four weeks on occasion. But, conversely, if problems arise, the time scale could be much longer.
Such problems can include a problem further up or down a chain, where if one sale falls through, it affects all the others involved. Other issues could be a buyer pulling out, problems with a buyer’s mortgage, gazundering (when a buyer suddenly makes a lower offer at the last moment before exchanging contracts) and issues with a survey.
6) Exchanging Contracts
Once all of this has been completed, it’s time to exchange contracts. At this point, both buyer and seller legally commit to the sale, and the deposit is paid. Should the buyer decide to pull out of the sale after this stage, they will lose their deposit. But should you choose not to sell your house, you’ll have to return the deposit, AND you lay open to being sued by the buyer.
According to Your Money the average collapse of a house sale costs brits around £2,700. As a result Brits forked out £880.4m!
Time Scale: 7-14 days on average but dependent on the length of the housing chain
A completion date is agreed on just before the exchange of contracts. Depending on the length of the property chain, this generally takes place around 1-2 weeks later. However, it can happen in conjunction with the exchange of contracts, or it could take much longer.
The most popular day to complete is a Friday, according to a survey carried out by TwentyCi in 2018. At this point, the keys are handed over along with the rest of the sale price. And the deal is done!
Time Scale: 7-14 days on average
Which Factors Most Impact the Time it Takes to Sell
A multitude of factors can influence the time it takes to sell a house in the UK. To beat the average time it takes to sell in the UK, you will need to be open to considering all of them. It’s not simply a case of finding the best estate agent you can and delegating responsibility.
One of the primary factors is the location of the property. Homes in popular areas or cities with robust economies and job markets tend to sell faster than those in less desirable locations. The type and condition of the property are also significant considerations. Well-maintained homes and those with desirable features like updated kitchens or bathrooms, energy-efficient systems, and ample outdoor space often sell faster than those needing substantial repairs or updates.
Seasonality can also play a part in how quickly a home sells. Traditionally, spring is considered the best time to sell a house in the UK, with more buyers actively looking for homes. However, selling in a less active market, like in the winter months, might mean less competition.
Lastly, the pricing strategy can greatly impact the time it takes to sell. A home priced too high may sit on the market, while a home priced competitively can generate more interest and potentially lead to a quicker sale.
Pricing: The Key to Quick Sales
A well-thought-out pricing strategy is a key factor in selling a house quickly. Overpriced properties deter potential buyers, leading to the property spending more time on the market. On the other hand, under-pricing the property might result in a quicker sale but at the expense of the seller’s potential profit.
1) Consider Your Asking Price
Researching comparable sales in the area and understanding the current market dynamics can help inform an effective pricing strategy. A professional valuation from a certified property valuer or an experienced estate agent can also provide an accurate estimate of a home’s value and help set a realistic asking price.
2) Prepare Your Property in its Best Light
The presentation of a property significantly influences buyers’ impressions and, consequently, the time it takes to convert potential buyers. A clean, well-maintained, and nicely staged home can help potential buyers envision themselves living there, thereby increasing its appeal.
Consider professional cleaning, decluttering, fixing any minor issues, and staging the house to make it more attractive. Highlighting key features and unique selling points of the house, such as a renovated kitchen or a landscaped garden, can also enhance its appeal.
In today’s digital age, high-quality photos and virtual tours are integral to marketing a property effectively. Given that most buyers start their property search online, compelling photos can significantly increase interest and lead to quicker viewings and sales.
3) Market Demand and Its Influence
The level of demand is another significant factor influencing how long it takes to sell a house. High demand typically leads to quicker sales, while low demand can lengthen the process. Demand is influenced by numerous factors, including economic conditions, interest rates, consumer confidence, and population growth.
In the UK, market demand can vary significantly from region to region. For instance, areas with thriving job markets, excellent schools, and good amenities often experience higher demand. This is often referred to as a hot market. Keeping an eye on local market trends can give sellers a better understanding of what to expect in terms of sale timelines.
It’s also essential to understand that demand can fluctuate. Economic changes, policy changes, and even shifts in consumer preferences can cause demand to rise or fall. Sellers should be prepared to adapt their strategy in response to these shifts to ensure a successful and timely sale.
4) Preparation Before Listing
Preparing your property before listing it on the market is crucial to a quick and successful sale. According to a survey by the HomeOwners Alliance, 70% of potential buyers would place an offer on a home that was well-presented over one that was not. This shows the importance of preparation before listing your home.
Preparation involves several tasks. Begin by decluttering and depersonalising your home. You want potential buyers to envision themselves living in your property, and personal items can be a distraction. Also, consider a fresh coat of paint in neutral tones to appeal to a broader audience.
Next, address any necessary repairs. Even minor issues like leaky taps or cracked tiles can be off-putting to potential buyers and give an impression of poor overall maintenance. Lastly, ensure your home is spotless. A clean home not only looks better in photographs but also shows well during viewings.
5) The Impact of Professional Cleaning
A clean home is much more appealing to potential buyers, and professional cleaning can take your property to the next level. According to a report by Which? 20% of house sales fell through because the property was dirty.
Professional cleaners have the tools and expertise to deep clean areas that might get overlooked in a routine clean, such as grout, ovens, or under appliances. They can also help remove stubborn stains or odours that could be off-putting to potential buyers.
Investing in professional cleaning can be particularly beneficial for larger properties or those that haven’t been deep cleaned in a while. It can contribute to a positive impression during viewings, leading to quicker sales and potentially higher offers.
Final Verdict: How Long Does it Take to Complete a House Sale?
From our research and valuable data from authority websites, we’ve deduced that: The average time to sell a house in the UK from start to completion is around 60-90 days.
That said, it must be noted that the average time for a house sale to go through can vary incredibly depending on personal circumstances, the length of the buyer chain and even the area where your property is located.
There are places where you could sell a house within 6 weeks, but at the same time, there are other cities where it could take up to 6 months!
But whatever the selling climate, there are still buyers out there. And the right strategic steps, such as savvy marketing and being organised, can make a big difference. Such planning can make your property stand out from the crowd and significantly affect how quickly your house sells.
Ultimately, the goal is not just to sell your house quickly for cash, but also to achieve a higher selling price. All the factors discussed—appropriate pricing, attractive presentation, strategic timing, and reliable legal support—contribute to maximising your property’s value.
Proactive planning and a strategic approach to selling can help you achieve a selling price that reflects the true value of your home. It’s a delicate balance between pricing competitively to attract buyers and maintaining the price that your property deserves based on its features, location, and market demand. The final reward of this careful balance is a successful sale that meets your expectations and sets you up for your next step, whether that’s purchasing a new home, investing, or other plans for your future.