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How Long it Takes to Sell a House (Each Step Explained)

How long it takes to sell a house with every step explained

This report will use data & studies to break down the key parts of the house sale process and reveal how long does it take to sell a house from advertising, offer and completion.

Use the handy links below that break down each stage with accurate estimations on how long they each take.

    1. Getting an Energy Performance Certificate
    2. Marketing your House
    3. Choosing a Solicitor or Conveyancer
    4. Viewings, Receiving & Accepting an Offer
    5. Searches, Legal Inquiries & House Buyers Survey
    6. Exchanging of Contracts
    7. Completion
    8. Final verdict: How Long Does it Really take to Sell your House?

How Long the House Selling Process Takes (Explained in 7 Steps)


How long the house selling process takes in 7 steps


We’ve all heard the stories of those who’ve been stuck in a house selling nightmare that lasts months or even years. And then a cursory Google search brings up positive sounding information that completely contradicts personal accounts from friends and family. So who on earth do your believe?

Your loved ones? Estate agents? That random acquaintance on Facebook?

The fact of the matter is that the majority of these seemingly legitimate sources fail to make clear the full picture of how long it REALLY takes to sell a house and instead just focus on ‘how long it takes to accept an offer‘. There’s actually a huge difference when you add up the extra time.

Hooking that buyer is only the first hurdle – there’s many more hoops to jump through before completion of the sale takes place.

So now we’ve cleared that up, let’s get right into the 7 step process to selling a house


1) Getting an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)


It’s a legal requirement to provide potential buyers with an EPC, so you need to 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 lasts for 10 years.


Energy efficiency rating chart


There are slightly different requirements for EPCs in Scotland, as opposed to 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 get in contact with a firm they’ll usually arrange an appointment in 48-72 hours. The assessment itself 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 made the decision to sell your home and got your finances in order, the first hurdle is efficient marketing. It’s essential to get several valuations as to your property’s worth, as well as doing your own investigations. Your choices regarding showcasing your home to potential buyers are to do it yourself, use the services of a high street estate agent or that of an online agent.

There are pros and cons of each options. The DIY option may, indeed, 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 houses advertised through an agent can be shown here.

Online agents get you onto these virtual property platforms, plus they tend to charge lower fees that 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 right for your situation, and some tips on how to go about it.

Whichever option you choose it’s important 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.

Once this is done capturing professional images takes a couple of hours or so. And thanks to the wonders of digital photos they can be online and advertised almost in the blink of an eye.


Time Scale: Assuming no major refurbishment necessary 7-14 days

3) Choosing a Solicitor or Conveyancer


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 levels of stress 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 on. 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 amount that’s acceptable to both parties. During the haggling process the house is highly likely to still be on view to other prospective buyers. However, once a price has been agreed then it’s said to be ‘sold subject to contract’ (STC).

In a 2019 study carried out by Zoopla it was 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. 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 benefit of the lender 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 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 a 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 condition of the property.

There are three types of house survey:

  • 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, large, renovation projects and those in poor condition.

3 different types of surveys you can get for your house

Image Credit: Which?


Time Scale: The average time for the conveyancing and the survey to be carried out is 28-84 days

Of course, there’s always the exception to the rule, and on occasion this could be as little as four weeks. 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 then 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 problems with a survey.




6) Exchanging Contracts


Once all of this has been completed it’s time to exchange contracts. This is the point at which 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 decide not to sell your house you’ll have to return the deposit AND you lay yourself open to being sued by the buyer.

A recent study from the Home Owners Alliance has shown that each year more than 300,000 property transactions fall through after contracts have been exchanged. The average cost of this is an eye watering £2,727, and the data has shown that just under a third of sales that fail are down to the buyer’s finances not being in order.


A table that shows the estimated costs incurred from a failed sale


Time Scale: 7-14 days on average but dependent on length of house chain

7) Completion


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!


A bar chart of the most popular day to complete a property sale


Time Scale: 7-14 days on average

What Can I Do to Speed Up the Process?


An infographic of 5 reliable ways you can speed up the house selling process


For those looking to clinch a quick house sale there are some realistic steps you can take to increase the chance of finding a buyer as soon as possible.

  1. Ensure your house is well presented. Carry out minor face lifts, such as a lick of paint, mowing the lawn and keeping it tidy for when viewers arrive.
  2. Be realistic about the house price. Overpriced houses don’t sell – full stop! Plus having an OTT price tag means the house stays on the market too long and becomes ‘stale’ to those looking to buy.
  3. Be organised. When you get an acceptable offer, having all the necessary details ready for the conveyancing process will not only make your solicitor happy, but prevent unnecessary delays if they keep having to come back to you to ask questions.
  4. Keep in touch, both with the agent and the solicitor. Don’t be a nag, but a weekly phone call to check in is a good way forward.
  5. Select your conveyancer with care, and choose one who’s registered with the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) and Lexcel. Both are badges of excellence and proof that they act efficiently and know what they’re doing.

The other option to sell a house fast is to consider a cash house buying company. Such a service takes all of the above time scales and compresses them into a smooth 7-14 day process. Whilst not right for everyone, for those who want to sell a house quickly for a good price such a service can prove advantageous.

However, it’s important to understand that some companies masquerade as being cash house buyers, when in fact they’re actually middlemen or use 3rd party funds. Care should be taken if going down this road, and ensure that the service really is the one that’s fronting the money. In the case of a genuine cash house buying company, such as Housebuyers4u, the process will be fully explained and there should be multiple positive reviews online to back up the company’s claims.


Other Helpful Hints on How to Sell Efficiently


  • Choose your estate agent with care. Do your research, ask plenty of questions and beware of those who overvalue your property.
  • Work hard to get the best quality photos. These are by far the best tool to attract buyers to your property. Ensure rooms are free from clutter, well-lit and that there are enough images to show off all the best features of your property.
  • Investigate the competition. If your house has an individual or sought after feature, be sure highlight it.


Presenting your house in the best possible light will genuinely have an effect on how fast your home sells. In a market such as today’s, where many buyers are cautious to make a move until they can see how the current political climate pans out, it’s essential to take all steps possible to make your property stand out from the crowd.


Final Verdict: How Long Does it Take to Sell a House?


From our own research as well as useful data from authority websites we’ve deduced that: The average amount of 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 to sell can vary incredibly depending on things like personal circumstances, length of 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 really can make your property stand out from the crowd and have a major effect on how quickly your house sells.


Now it’s your turn – how long did it take you to sell your house? We’d love to hear from you – post your thoughts in the comments section below.

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