Buying a home: A timeline

Buying a home is likely one of the largest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. It is also likely one of the most costly when it comes to time. From beginning to end, buying a home can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. How long it takes to buy a home depends on a number of factors and how long certain parts of the process take to complete.

How long does it take to buy a home?

Buying a home is not a quick process. A number of things must happen before you take over ownership and move into your new property. Below is a basic guideline of how long you can expect each part of the process to take.


6 weeks-8 months or more


•       Finding a home - Finding a home you want to purchase can sometimes be the longest part of the process. It involves speaking with lenders and getting an offer in principle, searching the market for a property you can afford and actually going to view the properties you are interested in.


•       Finding a mortgage product - This part of the process is where you search or compare mortgage rates to try and find the best deal. Some go to a mortgage broker or adviser in order to help them with the process. For those that prefer to go it alone, you can use helpful online tools like our mortgage comparison search to help you search the market for the best deal.


•       Putting In an offer - Once you have found a home you want to purchase, you must make the seller an offer. The negotiation stage can take some time as there is a lot of back and forth that goes on between the parties involved.


4-12 weeks


•       Offer gets accepted - Once the offer is accepted you can move on to other parts of the process. It is ultimately up to the seller to accept an offer and go forward with the rest of the process. After accepting an offer, contracts are created, amended and finally approved.


•       Exchange of funds - Once the offer and negotiation stages are taken care of you must pay the deposit. It is important to note that at this stage you cannot back out of the contract without it costing you quite a bit.


Instantly - 4 weeks


•       Completion - Once the deposit is paid, you are ready to embark upon the final part of the home buying process. This can be time consuming if certain criteria is not met or certain documents are missing. In order to make the process run smoothly, it is important to have all needed documents organised and ready for the lender. If all goes to plan you will soon have the keys and deed to your new home once the seller receives payment.



Steps in the home-buying process.


1.    Determine if you can afford a mortgage

Determining if you can even afford a mortgage is the first step you should take when going about buying a home. Useful tools such as our simple mortgage calculator can help you determine how much mortgage you can borrow.


Agreement in principle

Some estate agents require an agreement in principle in order to view a property. An agreement in principle is a document that states how much mortgage you are eligible to borrow. You can get this document from any lender, and it stands as proof that you can afford the home you want to buy. Some estate agents require this before viewing a property.


2.    Finding the home you want - A few weeks to a few months

The search for a home can be a daunting task. Many people are very specific about what they want in a home and therefore it is normal to take a good amount of time to see what is available on the market. Sometimes there won’t be any properties that fully meet your search criteria, so you may decide to put the home search on hold and start again somewhere down the line.


It is likely that you will have to make some sacrifices on things you want in a home and may not get everything you desire. However, by taking the time to see multiple properties and not being hasty in your decision making, you can eventually find a home that meets a good majority of your wants and needs.



•       Searching the market for mortgage deals

Now that you have found a home you are interested in, it is time to start comparing mortgage deals. Since there are multiple mortgage products and mortgage deals available on the market today, it is worth your while to compare quotes. Often times you can find a better deal than the one your high street bank may offer. You can easily search mortgage deals and rates online by using a mortgage search tool, like ours at


            It also may not be a bad idea to speak with a qualified mortgage specialist or

            broker about purchasing a home. Often times a mortgage adviser or broker can

            help save you money by finding deals that are not available to the general public. A

           mortgage adviser can also help walk you through the entire process of procuring a

           mortgage so that you do not have to go it alone.


            At Dashly, we offer a Chrome Browser Extension that shows you the best

            mortgage deal you can get on a property you are browsing.



3.    Make an offer

Making an offer can also be a time consuming process. Due to the amount of back and forth that goes on between sellers and prospective buyers, this process can take anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks. When you find a home you want to purchase, you will likely speak with a conveyancer or solicitor to put in an offer. The amount of time this takes depends solely on the negotiation process. Sometimes putting an offer in above asking price or at asking price will get this part of the process done sooner. Alternatively, making an offer under the asking price may mean longer negotiation time, but you could save money in the long run if you are willing to hold out. It is very important to understand the market and what you should put forth as a reasonable offer if you really want the property at hand. If a property is of interest to multiple buyers, it is likely that too low of an offer will be rejected.


4.    Offer gets accepted

Congratulations! Your offer has been accepted and you can now move on to hashing out the contracts.


5.    Pre-contract stage - 4-12 weeks


•       Getting your mortgage offer

Now that your offer has been accepted you can speak with your lender about approving the mortgage deal. The lender will likely need to evaluate certain aspects about the property, including whether or not the purchase price is in line with the property value. You can always use online tools like our home value checker to make sure you don’t get any surprises at this stage of the process.


            The lender will also need you to submit certain documents as proof of identity and

           income before they go about offering you a mortgage. Gathering the needed

           documents can be time consuming, so be sure to give yourself ample time to

           complete this part of the process so that the rest can go smoothly. Having your

           documents well organised can help speed up the home-buying process.


            Documents needed include proof of identity and address, bank statements from at

            least the past six months and other declarations of income if you have income that

            comes from more than just your employer, or if you are self employed.


•       Drafting contracts

This part also takes some negotiation. During the drafting of contracts, certain needs or wants are brought to the table and decided on by the two parties. A conveyancer or solicitor will draw up the contract for you based on the price agreed upon in the offer.       


•       Conducting of searches and surveys

Your conveyancer will make sure that certain things are taken care of before you sign any contract. This includes making sure that the property is up to code, safe to inhabit and most importantly able to be sold. Searches will be carried out to make sure that the seller is legally able to sell the property to you, among other things. The surveys that take place are to find any problems or issues with the home that could possibly affect the sale of the property.


6.    Exchange of contracts and funds


•       Exchange contracts 20-30 days

Once the contracts have been drafted and searches and surveys have been taken care of, it is time to exchange contracts. This part of the process can take anywhere for 20-30 days. There are times when negotiating a contract can take several weeks as both parties must agree on what conditions will be met before the contract is signed. For example, you may want the seller to include certain things like some of the furnishings, or to make certain repairs before you buy. These are all things that are worked out in the contract negotiations. This is where you will also sign the contract.


•       Getting buildings insurance

Once your contacts are exchanged and signed, the house is almost yours! You will need to get buildings insurance, as it is usually required by the lender before you can take ownership of your new home.


•       Signing of documents

There may be a few documents left to sign even after the exchange of contracts. You may need to sign certain things like a completion statement or a transfer deed. Your conveyancer should be able to advise you of and provide any of these needed documents in a timely fashion.


•       Getting funds from your lender

Your conveyancer will be able to help you draw funds from your lender, thus rounding up the buying process. Once the funds are made available and transferred to the seller via your conveyancer, you are just about ready to start calling your new house a home!


7.    Completion and after - 2 weeks or more


•       Get the keys

Now comes the fun part… getting the keys to your new property! Although

this may feel like the last step in the process there are still a few other things you will need to take care of.


•       Paying stamp duty

Unfortunately purchasing a property does not come tax free. A stamp duty, or the tax you must pay on a property you buy, will need to be paid. Whilst some have been able to take advantage of a stamp duty holiday at times, it is likely that stamp duty will need to be paid on the property you purchase. Our stamp duty calculator can help you see how much you will pay in stamp duty on a property you are interested in.


•       Registering your ownership

After completion, you will need to register with the Land Registry to let them know that you officially own the property. This can cost anywhere from £200-300 in fees. The price you pay depends on the price of the property you purchase. More times than not this is actually taken care of and paid for before completion day.


•       Obtaining the title deeds

            Your conveyancer will get the title deed from the Land Registry and the property

           will be all yours! Congratulations! You are officially the owner of your new home!

           Now it is time to start making it your own.


The bottom line


Purchasing a home is no simple task. There is much that goes into buying a home, from searching for the right property, finding a decent mortgage deal, exchanging and signing contracts, getting the right cover and completing the purchase. Be aware that the house buying process can differ for everyone, so this is just a basic timeline of what to expect when going about purchasing a new home.


If you are unsure of where to start it is a good idea to speak with a mortgage adviser who can help you navigate your way through the entire process. A good mortgage specialist can help find the right deal for you, as well as help with the needed insurance that goes along with a home purchase once you have chosen a home and a mortgage deal. The main thing is to be patient during the process and not make any hasty decisions, as buying a home can be one of the most stressful things you do in life. It is also a decision that should be taken seriously and planned out correctly to avoid any issues that can be both costly and time consuming. Following this basic timeline can help you to prepare for the home buying process.


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