Having an idea of how long your home will take to sell is an important part of deciding when to put it on the market, particularly if you have a target move date in mind.
GetAgent has collated a huge database of information from property sales all over the UK. By analysing the sales patterns of properties like yours, we're able to estimate how long you should expect a sale to take.
A lot of variables affect how long it takes to sell a house, but when you choose to put your house on sale is easily one of the most important. Like many other industries, there are peaks and troughs in the housing market throughout the year.
Spring is widely thought to be the best time to sell a house, with March and May specifically being the best months. April is seen as slightly inferior, due to UK schools' Easter holidays, but this break also affords certain buyers more time for viewings.
Autumn is the second best season to sell your home, with October being the latest good month of the year for the property market. People tend to be back from their summer holidays by then, and haven't yet started looking forward to the festive season.
Summer and Winter are less favourable times to sell a house. Summertime will see many people heading off on their holidays, and parents will have their hands full with their children during the school break.
Winter on the other hand is dominated by saving for and spending on the festive season. The evenings are colder and darker so you’ll find fewer potential buyers coming for viewings. However, those that do still come for viewings in winter are likely to be the most motivated to buy.
Despite these general trends, people need to move house at every time of the year. This can be because of work, family, or finances. So, if you’re not able to time your sale to coincide with one of these peaks, do not worry. It may be a little harder to sell, but in the long run, the best estate agents will help you sell quickly at any time of the year.
'How long does it take to sell a house?' is one of the most common questions homeowners have when they start thinking about moving. There's no single answer to this, with the amount of time your house will take to sell depending on a number of different variables.
But, using data we’ve analysed from the Land Registry and online property portals, we’re able to provide you with some averages.
The average time for a property to stay on the market after being listed is two to three months. Different estate agents will offer different averages in terms of actual days, depending on their ability and experience. These vary hugely from 50 days through to 102 days, with the most experienced agents being able to sell homes much quicker than less experienced, or online agents.
It's important to note that this is the average time across the entire UK property market. There's plenty of variation from region to region and country to country too. Houses in London, for example, may be the most expensive in the UK, but they also take much longer to sell than those in the North West. Similarly, flats in Scotland tend to sell much quicker than big detached houses down South.
Because there’s such variation across the country it’s important to take the average of two to three months on the market as a rough guide. If you want a more accurate estimate for the average time properties usually spend on the market in your local area, check out the stats here.
If your home has been on the market longer than the average for your area, discuss with your estate agent the best way to boost its appeal. It may be time to lower the asking price, or to take new photos for your online adverts.
Selling your home is complicated and confusing; and sometimes it can seem never ending. Even after going through the trouble of valuing, listing and showing your home, then finally accepting an offer, there's still some work to be done.
These are perhaps the most important steps in a home sale. And, if you're wondering 'how long does it take to buy a house?', these will be relevant for you too.
1) Formally accept the offer If you've received an offer you're happy with, you must formally accept it via your estate agent. Be aware that the sale is not yet legally binding. At this stage you are technically still able to accept a superior offer, or back out of the sale entirely.
2) Negotiate the contract This is arguably the trickiest stage of all, but a good estate agent and conveyancing team will offer you plenty of support.
Having settled on a price for the property, you must now also agree with the buyer on a few other important matters. These might include the length of time between exchanging contracts and completing the sale (typically 7-28 days), and which fixtures and fitting will be left in the property as part of the sale.
3) Exchange contracts This is the stage at which both you and the buyer legally agree to the sale. Backing out after this may incur legal action and financial cost.
4) Move out This can be done anytime before the day the sale is completed, as long as the house is in the agreed-upon state (including fixtures and fittings) by the time the new owners move in.
5) Complete the sale This will happen at a time and date agreed upon in your contract. The buyer’s solicitor will transfer the money to your lawyer. They will then pay your estate agent’s fees, any outstanding amount on your mortgage, and their legal fees, before transferring the remaining amount to you. At this point, the legal ownership of your home is officially transferred to the buyer.
The speed at which all this happens varies depending on yourself, the buyer, and the other parties involved in the sale (estate agents, solicitors, mortgage lenders, buyers further down the chain, and so on).
In the absolute best-case scenarios, a sale can be completed within 40-50 days of accepting an offer (around six weeks). It's much more likely, though, to require at least three months, and can often take five or six.
The first step in a quick sale is to attract as many potential buyers as possible, and there are four main ways to do this:
Prepare your home in advance - It goes without saying that properties which look clean and spacious are more appealing to buyers. Before you list your home, take the time to clear it out and thoroughly clean everything. This will ensure your property gives the best first impression to potential buyers.
Set the right price - This has the single biggest impact out of any factor. On average, your property listing will get the most views in the first two weeks, and setting the wrong price initially will mean you miss out on potential buyers. Most buyers start their property search online by filtering by price. If your home is overpriced you won’t feature in these buyers’ searches because it will look poor value for money compared to the other properties on offer. Checking how much local houses similar to yours sold for is a great first step. In addition, be sure to check out our guide to setting a sales price here.
Make your listing stand out - Good quality photos and an engaging description can make a huge difference in encouraging potential buyers to come for a viewing. The photographs on your listing will be most people's first glimpse of your home. If you’re not happy with the pictures, make sure to tell your estate agent straight away. Many estate agents will know exactly what to change in order to show your property in its best light. For an extra boost, talk to your agent about getting a promoted listing on online property portals such as Rightmove or Zoopla.
Pick the best estate agent for you - The right estate agent will do all the work for you. They will accurately value your home and ensure it is advertised effectively. They’ll know what attracts buyers, and they might even have a database of people currently looking for properties similar to yours in the area.
Once you have buyers interested, your choices can influence the time it takes for the sale to progress. For a speedier process:
Favour cash buyers - Waiting for a buyer to receive a mortgage can add a lot of time and uncertainty to your sales timeline. You won't always have the choice, but if you’re looking to sell a home quickly, consider accepting a lower offer from someone able to pay in cash.
Start the legal work early - Appoint a solicitor or conveyancer as soon as possible, and have them gather all the required paperwork. If you have a leasehold property, for example, you’ll need to get a report from the freeholder. This can take a long time, so the sooner you start, the less likely it is to hold things up.
Use the right legal professional - An experienced and proactive conveyancer will make sure that any hold-ups are quickly identified and overcome. Ensure you pick a communicative legal professional who is an expert in what it takes to sell a home. You can compare the top conveyancers here.
There's no easy answer to the question 'How long does it take to sell a house?' A wide array of factors go into it, from location and the time of year, to the motivation level of the buyer, and the skill and experience of your estate agent.
On average, though, it will usually take at least four to six months to sell a house. You'll typically wait two to three months for an offer you're happy with, then it may take another two or three months to complete the legal proceedings.
Every area is unique. To get a more accurate average of sales times in your neighbourhood check out the statistics for your local area here.
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