How long does it take to buy or sell a house?

There are perhaps two simple reasons why moving house is considered to be one of the most stressful events in anyone's life: the apparent lack of control, and the uncertainty.


The good news is Access Legal from Shoosmiths Conveyancing Service can help you to avoid some of the unnecessary pressures that naturally arise when buying or selling a house.

We achieve this by: making ourselves fully accessible to you (even at weekends); establishing your target timescales; and keeping you regularly updated on developments. We will also provide you with access to your own online tracking account.

We receive regular feedback from our clients (especially from those who have had previous experience of buying or selling a house) who state that our conveyancing service was more convenient and less stressful than any other they had experienced.

Be it a sale, a purchase, or a related sale and purchase, your case handler and conveyancer will seek to provide you with a service that endorses our service ethos and, in the process, form a level of trust between law firm and client. 

So how long should it take to buy/sell a house?

A typical house sale or purchase can take between six to eight weeks to reach exchange of contracts. This tends to be the critical milestone to achieve transaction certainty and from when the final move date, legally termed the "Completion Date", will be set (typically within a couple of weeks of exchange).

Leasehold transactions may take longer as it is necessary to check through additional paperwork to ensure that the building is being properly managed and maintained. Legal issues discovered part way through a transaction can delay matters. As each transaction will be different, it is rarely possible to confirm a timescale at the outset. 

There are also ways that you can help us make the process run more smoothly for you. To enable us to progress your transaction as fast as possible, it helps us considerably if we can receive the following items from you as soon as possible, once your offer has been accepted:

  • original identification for each client (a copy of the form detailing our requirements will be provided to you and is also available on our website)
  • clear evidence as to where any balance required to complete your transaction is coming from. This is to enable us to establish the provenance of funds and to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations. We don't ever ask for anything without very good reason! If you're buying and you are benefiting from the generosity of relatives, we will need to know. In fact, we will need the same identification for them as we will for you.
  • if you're having a mortgage, we will need the offer from your lender along with your proposed buildings insurance details
  • if you are buying a property, we will also need your initial search advance payment. We can't apply for the necessary conveyancing searches without the funds to pay for them  
  • if you currently have a mortgage or a third party has an interest secured over your property, we will need to know. We will need to contact them so all addresses and contact details are welcome. The same applies for landlords and management companies
  • if you've made changes to your property, maybe a new boiler, new electrical circuits, new windows, or perhaps an extension, it is more than likely your buyer's solicitor will want to know about it and to check the paperwork to ensure works are compliant or authorised. Send us all of the paperwork - we don't mind how much paperwork we get in from you; if anything the more the better!

In our experience, the transactions that complete most quickly are those where both client and solicitor work pro-actively together.

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All documents should be read and used in accordance with the terms and conditions. This document is for your general information only and is not a detailed statement of the law. It is provided to you free of charge and should not be used as a substitute for specific legal advice. If you require specific legal advice please contact our helpline on 03700 86 86 86.

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