How Long Does a House Sale Take in the UK?
The short answer: 5-6 months, the long answer...
**Note to readers: we updated this article in September, 2018 to keep information up to date, enjoy!**
The time it takes to sell a house varies wildly...
Greetings, Mr. or Mrs. Property Owner. You’ve lived in your home for a while, and it’s been great, but now, as they say, it’s time to pack up and move on.
Now what can you expect?
How long is it going to be until you can sell your property and move on to the next stage in life?
It’s always tricky, figuring out how long it’s going to take to sell your property.
The good news? We’re here to help!
The UK property market
Of course the biggest influence on how fast your home sells is there is anyone willing to buy it, and quite frankly, the UK housing market has been pretty rubbish in recent years.
In April 2018, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reported its twelfth consecutive month of dropping sales, and while recent figures from National Association of Estate Agents showed an increase of properties listed for sale in July 2018, they also reported a drop in the number of registered buyers.
Unfortunately, with the uncertainty of Brexit ahead, buyers are naturally worried that their mortgage rate might skyrocket, so things are not likely to get much better any time soon.
So what can you do improve your chances of getting a quick house sale?
Preparing the property for sale
In this section, we’ll cover everything leading up to the actual listing of the property.
Evaluate your sale price
This portion of the process requires research and estimation.
If you’d like, engage an estate agent who can assist with the process. The agent can research and look through local prices and past sale prices to come up with a good price for the property.
However, be sure to get a wide range of options and prices from a few different agents. There’s nothing that says you have to take the first price the first estate agent offers you.
Do your own research.
Look at what comparable properties in your region are being sold for, and feel comfortable with the amount you’re putting the property on the market for.
Always remember, too, that a website like Yes! Homebuyers is out there as an option for you as well - no agents, no red tape, none of those annoying hoops to jump through that other services include.
In total, expect to take anywhere from one to three weeks to do your preparation and research and set a fair sale price for the property. A cash home buyer can provide a valuation in minutes and have your house sold in under 7 days.
Prepare the property
The people that may want to buy your property are going to want to see the place. So it’s good to go ahead and make sure the property looks as nice as it can.
Take a day or two and tidy up the property. Now, you don’t have to go as crazy as Annette Bening did in American Beauty …
But she’s at least got the right idea.
It's important to give potential buyers an idea of what the home could be, so spruce it up and declutter, mow the lawn and make the beds and generally ensure your home is presentable. Just imagine your in-laws are coming round!
You want to make sure the home looks like something you’d want to move in to.
Get a solicitor
Hey, it’s the fun legal stuff.
Actually, it’s not that fun at all. So that’s why you need a solicitor!
Someone’s going to have to draw up the legal contracts and language in order to get all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted and make sure that your piece of property is properly transferred from one person to another.
Just like employing an estate agent, you need to make sure you feel comfortable with your solicitor. Make sure your needs, timeline and expectations are clearly communicated to the solicitor, and make sure the solicitor details exactly what his expectations and needs are.
Examine his fee and make sure you’re comfortable with the number, and make sure there aren’t any hidden charges that may pop up.
All in all? Give yourself a good 30 days worth of prep time before you’re actually ready to list the property.
Once the property is listed
Okay, now you’ve gone through and officially listed your property. Congratulations!
But how long is it going to take to actually sell your property?
Let’s examine this by looking at the different factors.
Location, location, location
The location of your property is absolutely key to the amount of time it will take to sell the property.
Certain “hotspot” locations are going to sell quicker than others.
You can see how hot your local property market is and when is the best time to list your home, by typing your postcode in to the PropCast website.
Here's an overview of the winners and losers.
Top 5 cities whose houses sell the quickest:
|City||Average Time to Sell (days)||Avg. House Price, June 2018|
Top 5 cities whose houses sell the slowest:
|City||Average Time to Sell (days)||Avg. House Price, June 2018|
Selling in Greater London?
You’re in luck, as far as time goes.
If you’re looking to offload a property in London you’re only looking at a little less than a month. London, of course, is one of the ultimate hotspots that's in high demand.
So take a look at where you’re at here in the UK and look at the trends. Of course, there’s nothing hard-and-fast in these estimates, but it’s good to at least get a sense of the average span of time it takes to sell.
It’s always nice to have an idea of how long it’s going to take!
Which type of property is it?
As a general rule, the more exclusive or expensive a property there is, the longer it will take to sell.
It’s easy to figure out why.
If you have a large, opulent house or apartment property that’s priced well above the average consumer, you can expect a more exacting and longer process. After all, the more pounds the buyer is able to dish out, the pickier - and more stringent they're likely to be.
If your property is in this bracket, you may have to be a little patient - add a week or two onto your expected time.
If you’re right in the Three Little Bears porridge middle - the price is not too hot and not too cold - then you’re right at the average of all of those numbers we talked about earlier.
Expect an average length of time.
On the opposite end, if you have a piece of property that’s smaller and therefore priced a tad more reasonably, then odds are the demand will be higher. The more demand and buyers there are perusing the property, the higher the likelihood that your piece of property will be in high demand off the market that much quicker.
When to sell your house fast
The time of year will have a significant impact on how long it takes to sell a house. Statistics from The Advisory show that March is by far the best month for a quick sale, averaging just 57 days from first listing to offer, while mid-October to mid-November is the worst, averaging 79 days.
If you are looking for the most potential buyers, the UK Property Transaction Statistics, issued by the Government, show that the markets are busiest in August and quietest in January for total sales.
Christmas is predictably a bad time, although things do pick up quickly in the new year as people make plans for the future. Rightmove report less than half a million searches at Christmas, compared to 2.2million on the first working day of the year.
The best month for a quick home sale varies depending on the type of home you are selling. Flats sell best in January and February, as buyers decide they can’t face another family Christmas and start searching for a place of their own, whereas family homes sell best outside of school holiday time, so you should avoid the long summer break and Easter if you can.
After the house sale
Hey, congratulations! You’ve gone ahead and found a buyer for your property.
Time to celebrate with a few pints, because you’re free and clear and there’s nothing much more to worry about. Right? Right?
Well, not so fast.
After you’ve found a buyer, there are still plenty of things that need to get done in order to cross all the Ts and dot all the Is. There are always events, too, that could slow things down.
All the little things
Once the sale is done, there are still plenty of things that have to get approved, like the mortgage and home surveys. The Homeowners Alliance estimates that it takes up to a month for buyers to order surveys after their offer has been accepted and can take another two months from the ordering of surveys to the exchange of contracts.
Exchange of contracts and completion can happen on the same day, but could also add weeks more waiting to your property sale.
Also, don’t forget that while you’re in the process of selling your property, there’s going to be a good chance that you’ll be involved in the purchase of another one - and the same goes for the buyer – ah, the joys of the property chain.
If any one of those “little things” complicates things on the other end, that means that there’s the chance that a ripple effect rings through all the other transactions.
That could mean delays.
Must read: The Conveyancing Process and Fees
The bottom line?
There are a bunch of factors that go into how long it takes to sell a house.
After you make the decision that you want to sell, sit down, review this list and think honestly about your answer to these factors that are included. Take into account all of those factors that may complicate the situation and add or subtract them from the average length of time that we’ve displayed (per location).
This should give you a rough estimate on the length of time it will take to sell your property.
So, overall, how long does a house sale take?
On average, 5-6 months in the UK.
Good luck and happy selling!