In short; it can take on the average time of 6 months to buy a house and move in.
The time it takes depends on a lot of things, perhaps you’re already mid-way through the process or you’re just at the very beginning – you haven’t yet quite find your dream home.
But don’t worry, this article serves as a sort of guide to help direct you through the entire buying process. So without further ado, let’s find how long does it take to buy a house and move in.
Choosing the Right Home
First and foremost, you’re going to want to find your dream home – although some people prefer to do this after getting their pre-approved mortgage (more on this later) we recommend checking the area out for yourself – on foot/by car – and then going on sites like RealEstate.com and Reiwa to find even more properties that align with your interests.
You’re going to want to think about what present you needs and what future you may need.
What I mean by this is that; how many bedrooms should the property have? Are you expanding the family soon? Will this mean more space is needed? Do you need driveway space or a garage for your carr? Looking for an outdoor area because you’re interested in decorating your garden with ornamental pieces?
These are just some of the questions you’re going to want to ask yourself.
A great way of getting you thinking about this is by taking a dream house personality test, although it’s a bit of lighthearted fun, it can help to set off the process of seriously considering what it is you want and need from your brand new home and bring your ideas to life.
How do I get a Mortgage?
Now assuming you’re not buying a house outright, you’re going to want a mortgage.
You can either;
Find your dream home and then apply for a mortgage on that property or
Get a pre-approved mortgage. This is where you get an agreement to borrow before you find your perfect home – this can be helpful in allowing you to stay in touch with reality (your budget) while you look for a property.
It is always (and certainly I would recommend) getting in touch with a mortgage broker.
Choosing someone who is an expert in dealing with real estate in the area you wish to move to will be extra handy since they will know what sort of budget you’re going to need.
Mortgage Application Process
So, you’ve discussed your budget with your mortgage broker and he/she has identified the lender that is perfect for you.
The agreement can take anyone from a few minutes to a few hours depending on if you have all your documents in hand and ready to be checked over.
Here are all the things you’re going to need;
- Bank statement from your current account
- Statement from your savings account
- The last three monthly payslips
- the most recent P60
- Receipt of benefits (if this applies to you)
- Any utility bills
- Passport/Driving license (either will do)
- Accountants statement (only applies if you’re self-employed)
How long does it take to get a mortgage?
Hopefully, if everything goes well and all documents are valid, you could be fully approved within a couple of weeks – this depends on your mortgage broker and;
- If you have adverse credit
- If you’re self-employed
- Have a low deposit
- Have a high loan to low-income rato
These things can factor in on how long it could take you to be approved, so keep this in mind when you’re going through the buying process.
Before you get accepted for your mortgage it’s very important to put an offer in for the house you want, so you know precisely what you’re working with.
This benefits both you and your mortgage broker so he/she knows what they’re lending the money for and if it’s worth their panels investment.
How to make an offer on a House
It’s fun picking out your dream home, imagine you and your family living between the 4 walls of each room, but the fantasy has to come to an end…like all good things.
At this point, it’s time to buckle down and actually buy the property which has stolen your heart before someone else more serious does.
When submitting your offer to an estate agent you can do so;
- On the phone
- In writing
- By Email
You’ll most probably do so by email since even if you were to place your offer verbally, you would still have to give some form of written confirmation for the estate agents records.
No matter the offer, no matter how ridiculous, the estate agent is legally obliged to pass the information on to the seller for their consideration, so keep that in mind.
Making an offer on a house is still a daunting process, here are some things you should be thinking about:
- Know your budget – Know how much you can afford, even if you put an offer in, the seller can offer many counter offers (as can you) which could push the price up above your budget, so it’s vital for you to know what you’re working with. We recommend having your conveyancing solicitors on hand so him/her can exchange details with the estate agent for future purposes (this will speed up the buying process drastically).
- Be chain free – Chain free is a unique position and you will probably only happen once in your lifetime. If you’re chain-free, you’re probably a first-time buyer, which is excellent news for you because you’re more flexible than around about 90% of your competition. Also having a pre-arranged mortgage (which we talked about earlier) could help you with negotiations as you’re more ready than everybody else.
- Time is money – Speed is important, if you’re lucky enough to be chain free, it puts you in a great spot for you to complete the transaction quickly.
TIP: if you can find out how long the seller has been waiting to shift the property, you could even send in a lower offer since they’re more desperate than ever to sell the property.
Always do your homework
Make sure that the property is worth what you’re willing to pay and ensure that you’re not just getting carried away due to ongoing rounds of counteroffers.
Check the properties in the local area, if there are similar ones then you have the upper hand since there are plenty of other sellers to talk to that can offer you a house you’re interested in.
On top of that, if you know they’re any faults or repair work which needs doing, you could use this to your advantage by letting it justifying a lower offer you’re about to put in.
Hopefully, once your offer has been accepted, you’re going to want to request the estate agent to take the property off the market, this is so (all though not foolproof) the property receives no more viewings, therefore no more offers and it will save you from a huge headache of getting gazumped.
Find a Conveyancer Solicitor
We mentioned earlier about having your conveyancer solicitor on hand when you first put in your offer, which we totally think you should have one by then, but if not there is no need to worry.
Some house hunters look for a Convencayeer right after they submit their offer, simply because its faster to do so but not necessarily as effective since if your offer gets accepted soon-ish, you’re going to be in sheer panic trying to find the right conveyancer for you – who you’ll need in the next step of the buying process.
Now if you’ve got a pre-approved mortgage, the lender will have a panel of conveyancing solicitors they already work with. In this case, it’s more than ideal for you to choose to work with one of them because the lender will already be familiar with the person and picking one a lender already knows will significantly speed up the buying process.
I’ve spoken a little about conveyancer but I have not directly told you what they do, so if you have no idea, read on just below;
What is a Conveyancer?
A conveyancer solicitor helps you with the legal transaction of selling or buying a property.
If you were buying a property outright, you could conduct this conveying process yourself. Additionally, it is not possible to do this if you’re taking out a mortgage as the lender will require a professional legal firm to be involved with the process.
Time for the lender to check over you and your soon to be home
Once the initial AIP is done (the part where you discuss mortgages with your lender and hopefully agree on a set of terms) it is time for something more permanent, a full application.
The lender judges two things
You – They will check if all the information you originally gave them is accurate.
The property – The home your purchasing is essentially the lender’s security. If you fail to pay your mortgage, they are legally allowed to repossess it and sell it back to earn their initial ‘stake’.
They will want to be confident that they can get their money back if the worse did happen, this usually involves an independent valuer to who asses the property to report back to the lender to let them know it is worth that they are lending you.
Did you know?: What you offer to pay for the property isn’t actually the value, your loan-to-value ratio is actually valued based on the official valuation rather than the number which you’re offering. Which can be a little confusing having to pay back less/more than you’re actually offering the seller.
Property searches are searches conducted by your solicitor (usually at the same time the lender does their own checks) to enquire about the property you are purchasing. Acting on the behalf of you and the lender, the solicitor finds more about the problems are potential future issues the building may have.
These searches obviously cost money, here are some of the searches you could be paying for:
Local Authority: This is one of the more common searches, which looks to identify any rules that future residents of the property should be aware of such as road schemes or enforcement actions.
Drainage: A simple but very important one; to check if the property is properly linked up to the surrounding sewers.
Landscape: Checking if the surrounding land (usually your property and a bit beyond that) has no contamination that could cause you trouble.
After the checks from both your solicitor and your lender, it’s time for you to do one of your own (well, paying a third-party to conduct one). This is not only important for peace of mind but also because the surveying which the lender has done does not come with any guarantees, meaning that if the house were to collapse tomorrow you can not blame the lender for not identifying this, since they are there to only value the property – instead of checking if it fits your needs.
So, you can do this just after you’ve received your mortgage offer but you must always do it before the exchange of contracts; obviously because if you find any problems with it now it is pretty much too late to go back on the deal.
Time to get your building insurance
Assuming you’ve been accepted for your mortgage; it’s time to sort out your building insurance.
Yes, yes I know you don’t exactly own the place just yet but once you’ve formally exchanged contracts between agents you’re legally bound to purchase the property, so you’d best get insurance sooner rather than later.
Hopefully, if you’re solicitor isn’t an absolute pain, all of his checks should be completed by now.
Great news for you, it’s time to sort your moving in date or more formally your ‘completion date’.
This is the date both you and the other party (in this case the seller) agrees on the date in which they hand you over the keys.
Obviously, this is a two-way exchange so both parties will have to agree on time both equally best for them. However, if you’re free of a chain, you’re most probably good to go whenever – make sure the seller knows this and you could speed up this potentially lengthy process.
However, you’re moving in date is probably near the start or at the end of the month – which would typically align with the mortgage payments of the current owner.
Pay your House Deposit to your Solicitor
You’re almost there!
You’re very nearly ready to exchange contracts between both parties, but first, you must pay your agreed deposit to the solicitor.
You’re going to want to prepare beforehand, way before we get up to this point in this guide, since if there’s two of you moving in it’s going to make sense to get the money into one bank account first.
Banks don’t usually let you move much more than $10,000 out of an account per day, so you can either:
Plan ahead and move this money out over the coming weeks of the buying process or;
Call your bank and arrange a CHAPS payment to your solicitor…
A CHAPS payment which stands for Clearing House Automated Payment System is a sort of ‘premium’ same-day payment guarantees by your bank – although this does come at a fee.
However, it is more than worth it if you’re looking to move a great sum of money, like a down payment on a house.
Exchange of House Contracts – Time to Celebrate…Almost.
This part of the process does call for some celebration, but not quite.
You’re not quite in your dream home yet, however you are now legally bound into purchasing the house. – once contracts have been swapped and signed by each parties solicitor.
At this point, you can’t pull out without losing your deposit money but luckily for you neither can the seller.
There is still a bit of paperwork left to do before you get to call the place home, but this happens relatively quickly.
Completion Statement from your Solicitor
This is a breakdown of any outstanding payments you need to give to the solicitor, things like;
- Outstanding deposit
- Solicitor Fees
- Survey Fees
- Stamp duty
Since the buying process can extend far past the 6 months it usually takes, the solicitor has to double-check to see if the seller still actually owns the property and that you are still more than capable of paying what you agreed to pay (checking if you haven’t gone bankrupt.
On top of that, they need to see if anything has changed in and around the property itself to make sure everything still aligns with the original surveying.
Transfer Deed – do you need to sign one?
Not all new buyers will have to sign a transfer deed.
But like anything with this buying process you’re best off checking with your solicitor just to make sure.
What is a transfer deed?
A transfer deed is a deed which needs to be signed by the buyer (you) with a witness at hand.
This essentially ties you to the property and shows your willingness to take on ownership of it; this will be sent to the seller solicitors by yours.
Paying for the property
Your solicitor will request the money you have agreed to lend from the lender, this needs to be done as soon as possible since the money will need to time to clear in the solicitor’s account first before you can do anything with it.
After that, once the money has cleared, the solicitor will send the full payment to the seller’s solicitors along with title deeds (if you’ve signed them)
Moving in Day!
Finally, you’ve got the keys to your dream home. Now you have the joys of moving in, arguably the worst part of all (if you ask someone who isn’t an interior design, they love this part!)
Time to decorate the walls with whatever colour you fancy and finally add that exotic furniture that wouldn’t quite work in your old home.
The process is long, tiring and it never seems to end, but it’s totally worth it in the end.
Going through this buying process, as we said at the start of the post, would take you about 6 months, but now you know this depends on factors such as; how cooperative your solicitor is as well as the seller process – these are things that no one can account for.
But nonetheless, if you take this guide as a way of organizing your next move, you’ll at the very least be a step ahead of anyone looking to move into a new home, showing your prepared and ready to move – piquing interest in even the most skeptical of sellers.