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Movelawyer Advice Section

Read through some of our advice articles that may help you if you are considering buying a house

The Timeline for Buying a House


Buying a new house can feel like a lengthy and tedious process. A six-month gap between looking at properties and actually moving in is not unusual and can be even wider if delays occur at any stage in the process. It may sometimes – and very frustratingly – feel like nothing is happening, but rest assured that there will be a lot going on behind the scenes as your team of experts – surveyors, solicitors, mortgage brokers, lenders and estate agents – all do their part in helping you buy your new house. Have a look at our house-buying timeline below in order to get an idea of what to expect at each stage of the process.

STAGE 1: Finding the right property for you & making an offer

How long it will take you to find the right property depends on a number of factors, e.g. your moving-in deadline, how buoyant your local property market is, and whether or not you’re looking for your ‘perfect’ property. If you want to be proactive at this stage, you could begin speaking to mortgage brokers or lenders in order to get a better idea of how much you are likely to be able to borrow. Getting a mortgage agreement in principle makes sense as it will put you in a better position when negotiating the purchase price with estate agents and sellers. Once you’re happy with the price, it’s time to make an offer.

The gap between first starting to look at properties and making an offer is typically three months.


You will need a solicitor who will deal with the legal side of your property purchase. Hiring a surveyor to do a thorough and comprehensive property survey is a good idea because although the lender will arrange for their own property valuation, hiring your own surveyor can help avoid later and potentially costly problems.

Mortgage applications can be subject to unexpected delays, so it is a good idea to be well prepared with any documentation or information which may be requested by the lender, e.g. payslips, bank statements or any other information needed to verify your income. It is also a good idea to check your credit records before applying for a mortgage.

Applying for a mortgage directly with a lender or using a mortgage broker as an intermediary makes no difference to your timeline as there is generally a one-month gap between making the application and receiving a formal mortgage offer.


The legal aspects of the process play a crucial role at this stage. You and the seller will sign legally binding contracts committing to the transfer of property ownership, and then your solicitor and theirs will exchange the contracts. At this stage, your solicitor will also liaise with the Land Registry, the local council and the seller in order to obtain relevant information about the status of the property, e.g. its ownership, planning permissions and land boundaries.

The process of exchanging contracts and obtaining the required information normally takes around a month.


This final stage involves: paying the deposit and any outstanding solicitors’ fees; finalising the mortgage (paying any arrangement fees); and setting up the direct debit to collect your monthly mortgage payments.

Usually, there is a four-week deadline from the exchange of contract to the exchange of keys, but a different timeframe can be used if both the buyer and seller agree so. At the end of this process, your new mortgage will start and you can move into your new house.


The actual timeframe will differ depending on personal circumstances and whether you are in a chain. Some estimate that it takes 3-6 months to buy a house.

- It will probably take you anywhere between 30-90 days to find a house and make an offer.

- Mortgage offer will take 15-30 days.

- 20-30 days is the period that it takes to find a solicitor, instruct them and start the searches.

- 20-30 days to complete the process, exchange contracts and receive your house keys

You may also find more useful info by visiting our FAQ section, Guides or News and Blog.