There is no definitive time frame to how long it takes to move house, as unexpected complications could arise during the conveyancing cycle and it’s also dependant on the number of vendors and buyers in the chain.
At the point of an offer being accepted on the property you are buying / selling and obtaining the keys to move into your new home, it can take anywhere between 2 – 4 months. Though in rare circumstances where there is purely a vendor and buyer in the chain or a cash-buyer, moving house could run smoothly and take 4-6 weeks.
When moving home, whether it’s buying or selling a flat or house, you will tend to engage with an Estate Agent, via traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ or through an online Estate Agent, as well as employing a Conveyancing Solicitor or Licensed Conveyancer. The Conveyancer will act on your behalf to deal with the legalities of selling and/ buying your property, depending on your circumstances.
Conveyancing is transferring property ownership and the cycle starts when the price has been agreed for the property and finishes when funds have been transferred, resulting in the transfer of property keys.
This explains more about the conveyancing process in action and overlaps whether you are selling/ and buying a property. It highlights some of the factors which could influence how long it takes to move house.
Stages in the Conveyancing Process
Once you have agreed in principal the purchase price of your property and where applicable, the price you are selling your own property for via the Estate Agents, you will employ a legal representative to be responsible for the conveyancing process. Agree and sign the Terms of Business for services provided and then the cycle will begin:
- Sale price: Both the vendor and buyer will agree the initial sale price, subject to searches and contracts.
- Mortgage application: For non-cash buyers, a mortgage application will be submitted to your building society or bank who will value the property to ensure the price matches the agreed sale price.
- Identity checks: Proof of identity checks will be made.
- List of assets: Both parties will agree a list of assets to be left with the property for fixture, fittings and contents (Complete Fittings and Contents form as well as a Property Information Form).
- Title Deeds: The Purchase Solicitor will write to the Land Registry to obtain the Title Deeds which show land boundaries, ownership of the land and property.
- Leasehold: If you are purchasing a leasehold property which tends to be with a flat, it’s important to obtain the number of years left on the lease which will also be required by the mortgage company.
- Property Searches: Searches will be made on the property and the land it resides on; some are compulsory and others optional. These include
- Local authority, where applicable Chancel Repair Liability, Environmental Flood Risk, Mining, Drainage and Water Authority, Local Searches as well as previously mentioned the Land Registry Search.
- Memorandum of sale/Notification of sale: Documents will include the agreed property prices, details of both parties and legal representatives for both vendor and seller to sign-off.
- Dates: Agree dates for Exchange of contract, Transfer of Deeds and Completion Date to exchange funds and hand over the keys for the property.
Factors which could impact how long it takes to move house
This highlights some of the stages which could add additional time to move house:
- Mortgage application: When the property is valued, it may suggest that the price agreed does not reflect the true value of the property and the buyer will need to re-negotiate the price with the vendor, to ensure the mortgage can be granted.
- Lease for the Flat: If the flat is leasehold and the lease is less than 70 or in some cases 80 years, then the mortgage may be declined until the lease has been extended. The buyer may need to ask the vendor to apply to extend the lease which is agreed as part of the sale. This can involve another organisation like the Managing Agent and can be complicated, which could delay the time to move house.
- Issues with the Title Deeds: The Deeds may show discrepancies with the property or the land which will need to be resolved, whether it’s with the boundaries of the property or the lease.
- Property searches: It may take time for information to be available at peak times and any of the searches may show issues with the land, property or neighbourhood that may need to be investigated further.
- Solicitors or Legal Representatives: Sometimes they can delay the process by lack of communication or availability between both the vendor and buyer’s representatives.
- Chain of houses: If there are multiple buyers and sellers in the chain, then there can be additional challenges which could impact the time to move house: funds, timings to move, awaiting information on searches, issues arising from factors mentioned.
- Exchange of funds: The delay in exchanging and completing on a property could be due to waiting for funds to be transferred from a solicitor to the bank accounts of the vendors and / buyers. Keys will not be exchanged until funds are in the bank accounts.