How long does buying a house take?

Process takes about a month longer now than before the pandemic

How long does buying a house take?

The average time taken to buy a home today is more than five months – around a month longer than it took house purchase transactions to complete before the pandemic, according to Smoove’s Home Movers Report.

Within the last six months, the average time taken to complete the home purchasing process stands at 153 days. In 2019, it took 124 days – an increase of 29 days, or 23%.

Smoove said the increase is most likely a result of the post-lockdown boom, as changing consumer lifestyles and demand outweigh supply, combined with greater capacity constraints for solicitors, and local authority searches taking longer to complete likely due to technology failures or a large backlog.

The marketing automation platform pointed out that the home moving process also continues to be “a very protracted, fragmented, and analogue” experience, with many checks and documents still needing to be in physical form, rather than being able to be signed or reviewed digitally.

Its report showed that nine in 10 homeowners found the process stressful, the sheer length of time it took to complete the process (40%), with the lack of certainty (34%), and waiting for exchange and completion dates to be finalised (33%), among the main reasons.

It also found that the length of time filling out forms, such as property title deeds, EPCs, local authority searches, transaction, and conveyancing forms is a particular hassle for homeowners. The documents that take the longest to wait for and complete include mortgage application/agreement in principle (22%), ID checks (18%), and local authority property searches (16%).

According to Conveyancing Data Services (CDS), the average length of time to receive personal searches from local councils across England and Wales was between nine and 11 days in August. However, while the majority of councils are processing requests in a reasonable timeframe, some councils are taking longer on search times, such as Middlesbrough (35 to 40 working days) and Havering (65 to 70 working days).

Read more: Where in the UK can you get a property transaction done quickly?

“Too often, we hear of the misery that comes with moving home,” Simon McCulloch, chief commercial and growth officer at Smoove, commented. “The sheer length of time it takes to complete the process is a major stress driver.

“Local property searches being delayed only adds to the pressure and these significantly vary region by region with some search times taking up to 70 days. For this reason, we recommend ordering your searches as soon as possible.”

McCulloch said that a further way to reduce time and stress for all parties is to use a platform or conveyancer that offers services like electronic onboarding, ID verification and case tracking.

“We need to modernise the industry and systematically transform the home moving experience by increasingly digitising and automating the process,” he added. “Whether that means providing transactional visibility, quicker checks, automatic form filling, or real time updates, these will all ultimately ensure a more satisfactory outcome for everyone.”