How Long Does it Take to Sell a House?

This can be a difficult question to answer as every house sale is unique and has its own characteristics.

Nonetheless, to get a better grip on the overall picture, every month Property Solvers analyse the average time to sell houses in England, Wales and Scotland through our Speed of Sale Tool.

We extract data from the UK’s leading property portal – Rightmove – as well as the HM Land Registry.

The idea is to assess the dates when an estate agent lists the property on the portal to the point at which it is officially marked as sold.

It’s during this time that a house sale goes through a range of processes, including:

  • Viewings / open days;
  • Negotiations;
  • Closing to the sale;
  • Formal house valuation / survey;
  • Conveyancing process – i.e. checks, legal searches, enquiries, contract drafting etc.;
  • Exchange and completion…

So, how long does it take to sell a house from listing a house to completing?

We started recording the data in April 2019 and analyse approximately 100,000 home sales in England, Wales and Scotland every month.

From putting your house up for sale to closing, the chart below shows how the data has evolved over the 6 months to June 2021:

How Much Does it Cost to Sell a House (2022 Update)

How long does it take from receiving an offer to closing?

Using data also from Rightmove, the average length of time sellers spend waiting for an offer is around 7 weeks.  If you’re selling, please feel free to request one of our house valuation reports which contain up-to-date data on this.

This is essentially the time from which a property is listed on the portal to the point the estate agency changes it to ‘Sold STC’ or ‘Under Offer’.

Please note that this is not a guarantee that the house sale will complete.  It’s the first step to getting the house sale finished.

What Could Affect the Speed of Your House Sale?There are a number of factors that may either slow down or speed up a house sale.

These include:

  • The length and complexity of the chain;
  • The estate agent’s performance in marketing your property and finding you a buyer;
  • The buyer’s and seller’s plans on moving themselves;
  • The buyer’s access to mortgage and deposit funds;
  • The speed at which the buyer, seller, estate agent(s), mortgage broker(s), lender(s) and solicitors work;
  • The overall property market conditions.

Let’s explore each of these points in greater detail…

How the chain affects the speed of selling a house

The term “chain” refers to the series of other transactions that need to occur before your property sale can happen. 

For example, you may have made all the necessary preparations to sell your house, including accepting an offer – but your buyer may need to wait to sell their house to free up the funds to put down a deposit.

Not only that, but the buyer of the house that your seller has on the market may also have their own house to sell before that transaction can be completed.

This situation can be repeated over and over again, forming “links” in a chain.

The Chain Affects the Speed of Selling a House

Matters affecting a property selling chain

Here are a few elements that may speed up or slow down a chain:

  • If the chain is particularly long, your transaction will take much longer than average;
  • If the seller does not need the funds (or proceeds of sale) to buy the next property or move on, there is no onward chain.  This will significantly speed things up;
  • If there is a period of economic uncertainty, certain links in the chain may begin to slow right down as those involved drag their feet, waiting for encouraging developments;
  • When some occurrence throws a spanner in the works – say a solicitor’s firm or estate agency somewhere in the chain closes down or a survey reveals severe problems or a buyer or seller pulls out – the chain may grind to a halt;
  • If a buyer in the chain decides to sell their own property through a We Buy Any House firm that pays cash, they’ll have the funds available to move forward immediately, speeding the chain up;
  • Similarly, when properties are bought and sold through an auction service the presence of a chain is irrelevant as strict deadlines need to be met.  Failing to do so, could result in heavy penalties.

The estate agent’s performance in marketing and finding a buyer

How fast you sell the property will depend on your estate agency’s ability to deliver on its promises.

Here are some of the key signs of a good estate agent:

  • They’ll take the time to understand your specific selling situation, appreciate that this is probably one of the most expensive items you’ll ever sell and move forward with your best interests at heart;
  • You’ll be shown clear evidence of how quickly they are able to sell properties.  This data is available electronically to any estate agent registered with Rightmove.  There’s no excuse not to provide this information;
  • They are genuinely experienced and have good online reviews (simply Google search the name of the company and type in ‘reviews’ after it).  They’ll also have a solid presence on social media;
  • They can clearly demonstrate that they understand real house price trends, see your local competition, understand seasonal sales patterns and know your target buyer;
  • They’ll have key insights on the best time to sell your house;
  • Your property will be valued accurately and non-speculatively;
  • Based on the condition of your property, they’ll provide professional suggestions on how to maximise your chances of getting a good price in a short amount of time;
  • They’ll use excellent photographers and videographers (check their current listings for this);
  • They’ll write a good property description (again, you can check their listings for this);
  • The agency can be contacted 24/7 for viewing requests;
  • They’ll ensure sure your property gets good online and offline exposure;
  • You’ll get good advice on the real costs of selling a house;
  • You’ll be in safe hands when it comes to negotiating the best possible price and putting your interests first;
  • The agent will accompany the sales process chasing up solicitors, surveying companies, mortgage brokers and other professionals involved in the sale where necessary.

Signs of a Good Estate Agent

Remember that there are a lot of estate agents out there that deliberately over-value your property to win your business.

For example, it’s common practice for sellers to get three estate agents around for a valuation.

As they often know they’ll be competing with each other, they start to play a game of ‘one-upmanship’ to get the instruction despite it not being in your best interests.

We would suggest that you undertake your own research and see if it corroborates.

These days you can check historical house price data via the HM Land Registry for FREE.

How the buyer’s and seller’s plans affect the speed of selling a house

Even in a simple transaction where there is no chain, the actions of the individuals involved can cause a sale to be quicker or slower.

Possibilities may include:

  • A seller who is planning on moving into a property they already own but has not completed the necessary renovations yet, meaning they can’t yet vacate to let the buyer move in;
  • A buyer who has a lengthy holiday booked between the date of their offer and the date of completion, meaning they’re not available to meet with their mortgage broker or solicitor and cannot receive documents in the post;
  • A buyer who has ordered more complex checks and surveys than usual or simply being slow to act;
  • A seller who is taking a long time to take promised actions (i.e. not prioritising the exchange/completing on the sale;
  • The buyer being a developer (typically through a part-exchange house scheme), in which case the process is likely to be quicker (as they will not be using mortgage finance);
  • A seller who has moved into rental accommodation, vacating their house and speeding up the chain.

Buyer’s and Seller’s Plans Can Affect the Speed of Selling a House

How a buyer’s access to funds may affect the speed of selling a house

In the UK, a property buyer usually needs to pay – as a minimum – a 10% deposit in order to secure the purchase of a house.

Some lenders will allow for a 5% deposit, usually because the buyers are using the Help to Buy scheme.  There are also special mortgage deals out there at the moment with similar deposit requirements (but these usually have a number of attached conditions).

Most buyers these days would be paying a deposit of between 25% and 30%.

There may be certain aspects that prevent the buyer from having this money immediately to hand, including:

  • The slow sale of their own property;
  • Delays in payments such as an employment bonus, financial gift or receipt of inheritance;
  • An unexpected expense that needs to be prioritised;
  • A budget miscalculation meaning money needs to be found from an alternative source;
  • The failure to secure mortgage finance.

Buyer’s Access to Funds May Affect the Speed of Selling a House

Getting mortgage finance in place is the most common issue we see in our day-to-day activities and can be caused by:

  • The surveyor downvaluing the property (often fuelled by estate agents pushing prices out of sync with the market);
  • The surveyor sees issues with the property, resulting in a down-valuation.  This sometimes gets messy as the seller may not be willing to negotiate;
  • The buyer fails the mortgage affordability assessment (and needs to shop around for a different lender);
  • Market pressures force lenders to ask for a higher deposit (meaning the buyer again has to look at raising more money);
  • The lender suddenly changes its criteria and requires the buyer to pay more interest.

How the speed at which the buyer, seller, estate agent, mortgage brokers / lenders and/or solicitors work affects a house sale

Often, it’s an individual or organisation that ends up dragging their feet or running into trouble and slowing things down.

Buyers, Sellers and All the Professionals Must Work Together to Achieve a Quick House Sale

Problems may arise if:

  • Either the buyer or seller fails to complete paperwork or undertake required actions in a timely manner;
  • Any party misplaces an email or misunderstands an instruction;
  • Some or all of the professionals are not ‘on the ball’, prompting unnecessary delays;
  • Illness, an act of God or another misfortune befalls any of the individuals involved in a transaction;
  • The buyer or seller refuses to comply with certain instructions, asks to change the terms of the sale or gets “cold feet” – either about a certain element of the transaction or the whole undertaking;
  • Important articles, such as keys, are lost and not replaced in a timely manner.

The above potential issues can sometimes mean that some homeowners prefer to sell at auction or to cash buyer only.

How the property market can affect the speed of selling a house

Under the “property market” umbrella, there are two matters that can positively or negatively affect the speed of a transaction.

These are the overall state of the market and the current stage of the “property cycle”.

The House Market as a Whole

The property market can be affected by matters such as the health of the country’s economy.

Matters of social, health or political uncertainty can also come into play.

These factors can drive property prices up or down and affect mortgage lending and interest rates.

If both property prices and interest rates are high, and lending is down, it will usually take longer to sell houses.

The UK Housing Market

Your Local House Market

There are also other “micro” effects that can affect how quickly you sell.

For example, if there’s an oversupply of properties similar to your own, you mind find it a bit more of a struggle to find a buyer.

Here, you may need to bring down the price to start attracting interest.

Local Housing Market

The Property Cycle

In most countries, a repetitive process known as the “property cycle” allows people to roughly estimate the booms and slow periods within the market.

The property cycle usually follows these steps:

  • Following a dip or recession, property sales begin to pick up – causing prices to gradually rise;
  • There is often a small secondary dip as the earliest sales complete, but this is usually shortlived;
  • The market enters an “explosive phase”, where sales and prices rise quickly and significantly;
  • A “peak” occurs, where property begins to get too expensive for many buyers, so the process slows suddenly;
  • A recession phase begins, taking the market back to the start of the process once again.

The Property Cycle

This cycle is known to take around 18 years to complete – and the speed of your sale will, in part, depend on the point in the cycle at which you plan to sell.

Note that the theory behind house cycles is certainly not foolproof.

How to Get Things Moving with Your House SaleHere are a few ways in which you as a seller can help to speed up a transaction…

Be organised

Having the right paperwork to hand and following instructions quickly and to the letter will take the pressure off you and encourage other parties to work swiftly and efficiently too.

You should also make sure that all major decisions regarding the transaction are set in stone before you list your home.

Somewhat obvious, but make sure you create a great first impression.

A lick of paint, simple decoration, removing clutter and a good clean can work wonders.

Drop your property’s asking price

It can be a bitter pill to swallow… But when people reduce their prices, the chances of finding a buyer increase.

How much of a reduction is open to debate.  We always suggest looking at HM Land registry data on what homes in your area have actually been selling for.  Being realistic about your property’s value will also avoid a situation where you get gazundered.

A proactive and experienced estate agent should be able to lead you in the right direction.

Drop Your Asking Price to Sell Your Property Faster

Be selective

Try not to settle for just any buyer.

If a buyer seems organised and has the funds to hand to put down a deposit immediately, the sale is less likely to run into problems.  A good estate agent should be able to lead you in the right direction.

You should also look for suggestions from your conveyancing solicitors. 

Through their own legal checks, they’ll be able to let you know how legitimate the buyer appears to be.

Sell Your House Faster by Being Selective

Choose a different route when selling your house

Instead of using an estate agent, it’s possible to sell your house fast for cash up-front.

Property Solvers is a specialist home buying company that can help you to complete a sale quickly, removing any chain and allowing you greater freedom as a result.

Property Solvers - Sell House Fast Specialists

Benefits of using a quick home-buying company

By following this route as a seller, you’ll be able to benefit from:

  • Fast exchanges, some taking as few as 7 days;
  • A secure cash sale;
  • Flexibility, including interest-free cash advances;
  • No estate agency or legal fees to pay;
  • Total clarity;
  • An expert service that guarantees speed and efficiency;
  • A better and more secure way of selling tenanted and inherited property;
  • Extensive experience of helping people with mortgage arrears (and stopping repossession).

When selling your house for cash, you won’t need to rely on a buyer, solicitor or estate agent, which means you have far greater control over the speed of the transaction.

House Sold for Cash

The process of using a home-buying company

In order to complete a transaction with a quick home-buying company, you just need to request a no-obligation cash offer from your chosen service provider.

With Property Solvers, the amount you’re offered will remain the same throughout the process, with no risks of price drops before completion.  In short, what we say is what we pay.

You’ll usually receive up to 75% of the market value of your property.

The alternative option is to use our property auction services.  We offer both traditional and modern method of auction options.

What to do next to sell your house quickly

If you plan to use an estate agent to sell your property, you should first consider the current state of the market.

If you can afford to wait until a better time, this is a good idea, as selling when the market is strong is likely to result in a quicker transaction.

Otherwise, if you’re interested in using a quick home-buying or auction service, make contact with Property Solvers today and we’ll be very happy to help you.

Slow House Sales and What Can Be Done to Speed Things Up

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