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  • 13 Nov 2023

    Understanding the Timeline of Home Buying Process

    Buying a home is one of life's most significant milestones, but it's also a complex process. Understanding the various stages, the time it takes, and the factors that influence it can help make the journey smoother. 

    Let's begin by introducing the home buying process in the UK. This journey involves several key stages, each with its unique considerations and timelines. Whether you're a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, knowing what to expect can make the process less daunting.

    Typical Stages of the Home Buying Process

    The home buying process typically comprises the following stages: 

    Property Search

    This is where it all starts. You search for a property that meets your needs, whether it's a cosy flat in the city or a spacious family home in the suburbs.

    Mortgage Application

    Once you've found a property, you'll need to secure financing. This stage involves applying for a mortgage and getting pre-approved.

    Offer and Negotiation

    You make an offer on the property, and negotiations may take place between you and the seller until you reach an agreement.


    Conveyancing involves the legal transfer of property ownership. This includes property searches, contract reviews, and various legal processes.

    Property Survey

    A surveyor assesses the property's condition to ensure there are no hidden issues that might affect its value or your safety.

    Exchange of Contracts

    This is a significant milestone where you and the seller exchange signed contracts, legally committing to the sale.


    On completion day, the property legally becomes yours, and you receive the keys.

    How Long Does the Home Buying Process Take?

    The duration of the home buying process can vary widely. On average, it takes anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete a property purchase. The timeline depends on factors such as the complexity of the sale, mortgage approval speed, and conveyancing efficiency. Be prepared for some flexibility in the schedule, as unexpected delays can occur.

    What Influences the Home Buying Process?

    Several factors can influence the duration of the home buying process:

    Property Type and Location

    The type of property you're buying, and its location can significantly impact the process. Desirable areas may have more competition, while unique properties may require additional inspections.

    Mortgage Approval

    The speed of your mortgage approval process depends on your financial situation, credit history, and the lender's efficiency.

    Legal and Administrative Aspects

    Legal and administrative tasks, such as property searches and contract reviews, can take time. Delays can occur if issues arise during these stages.

    Buyer's Preparedness

    Being well-prepared, having your finances in order, and promptly providing necessary documents can expedite the process. Having the right documents is essential for verifying your identity, financial capability, and ensuring a smooth property transaction. These are the most common documents that you’ll need:

    • Proof of Identity – such as a passport or driving license
    • Proof of current address (e.g., utility bill or bank statement)
    • Proof of Funds - bank statements showing your savings and the deposit for the property (typically ranging from 5% to 20% of the property's purchase price)
    • Mortgage agreement in principle (if applicable)
    • Mortgage application form
    • Agreement in principle from your mortgage lender
    • Mortgage offer letter
    • Property details, including the address and sale price
    • Property listing or brochure
    • Any seller's property information forms or questionnaires
    • Sale contract provided by the seller's solicitor
    • Title deeds and land registry documents for the property
    • Property information form (completed by the seller)
    • Results of property searches, including local authority searches, environmental searches, and water and drainage searches
    • Property survey reports, if applicable
    • Funds for legal fees and other associated costs, such as conveyancing and Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

    It's important to work closely with your solicitor or conveyancer throughout the buying process, as they will guide you on the specific documents required and ensure that all legal and financial aspects are in order. Additionally, ensure that you keep copies of all documents for your records, as they may be needed for future reference or transactions.

    Cost of Conveyancing When Buying a House

    Conveyancing is a crucial part of the home buying process, involving the legal transfer of property ownership. According to a study that considered the costs of 46 conveyancers around the UK, conveyancing fees for buying a house are £2,239 and £1,690 for selling a house. This includes the costs of the solicitor's legal fee, conveyancing disbursements and potential extra fees when buying and selling a house at the average UK price of £277,000 (including 20% VAT.) 

    Hegarty offers you an easy quote online. Our quick online quote calculator will instantly show you how much the conveyancing for your house purchase or sale will be.


    How much deposit do I need to buy a house in the UK?

    The typical deposit required to buy a house in the UK is around 5% to 20% of the property's purchase price. The exact amount depends on your mortgage lender's policies and your financial circumstances.

    How long is the process of buying a house in the UK?

    The home buying process in the UK can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on various factors. On average, it usually takes around 12 to 16 weeks.

    What are the stages of buying a house in the UK?

    The stages of buying a house in the UK include property search, mortgage application, offer and negotiation, conveyancing, property survey, exchange of contracts, and completion.

    Who qualifies as a first-time buyer in the UK?

    In the UK, a first-time buyer is someone who has never owned a residential property before. There are also specific criteria related to the property's price and location that can affect eligibility for certain government schemes and incentives.

    What benefits do first-time buyers get in the UK?

    First-time buyers in the UK may be eligible for benefits such as reduced stamp duty (SDLT), government schemes like Help to Buy, and lower deposit requirements from some lenders.

    What fees are payable when buying a house?

    When buying a house in the UK, there are several fees and costs that you need to be aware of. These costs can add up, so it's essential to budget for them in addition to the purchase price of the property. These typically include a deposit, mortgage arrangement fees, Stamp duty land tax, legal fees, property survey fees, valuation fees, broker fees, land registry fees and Transfer of Ownership Fees.

    How do I choose a solicitor or conveyancer?

    Research and compare solicitors or conveyancers, checking their credentials, experience, and fees. Recommendations from friends or family can also be helpful.

    Can I negotiate the purchase price?

    Yes, it's common to negotiate the purchase price with the seller, especially if there are issues found during surveys or inspections.

    What is a property survey, and should I get one?

    A property survey assesses the condition of the property and identifies any potential issues. While not mandatory, it's advisable to get a survey to avoid unexpected problems.   


    The home buying process in the UK is a multi-stage journey that can take some time to navigate. Understanding the typical timeline and the factors that influence it, along with the costs involved, is essential for a successful and less stressful property purchase. 

    If you're ready to embark on this exciting journey, remember that our professional advice and guidance can make the process much smoother. Reach out to our team at Hegarty Solicitors for more information. Happy house hunting!

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