Timeline For Buying a Home

Timing your move

There are so many things that can impact the time it takes to move home - don’t let any of them slow you down! Our timeline will lead you through the most efficient order of things to tick off your list, and give you expert tips and tricks along the way. Not sure what to ask your conveyancer? Don’t know how much removals should cost? Don’t worry! We’ve got the answers.
  • Deciding that you want to move

    2-3 months

    Deciding that you want to move

    If you’re here, you’ve probably decided you want to move! But do you know where you want to go, or what you want from your new home?

  • Thinking about affordability

    1 week

    Thinking about affordability

    If you’re buying your first home, you’ll need to think about your deposit. Is it enough to get a mortgage? Unless you’re using a government scheme, you’ll want to aim for 20%.

    You’ll also need to think about the size of the mortgage you’ll be granted – it’s usually 4.5 times your annual income. Add that to your deposit to consider properties in the right price range.

  • Check your other moving costs


    Check your other moving costs

    It’s not just the property itself, there’s solicitors, surveys, fees and more. Don’t get caught out!

  • Preparing to sell your home

    1-2 weeks

    Preparing to sell your home

    Before you even put your property on the market, consider small and big changes to increase its value.

  • Find an estate agent

    1-2 weeks

    Find an estate agent

    Not all estate agents charge the same fees - make sure you compare them!

  • How long does it take to buy a house?

    How long does it take to buy a house?

    The process varies depending on whether you’re a first time buyer, buying a new build or part of a chain. Being prepared with your paperwork, mortgage and to do list can keep the process moving along.

  • How to choose a mortgage

    2 - 4 weeks

    How to choose a mortgage

    Before you even view properties, get a Mortgage in Principle – this will show what you’re likely to be approved for, and speeds up the process.

    Read more
  • Find a mortgage in principle

    Minutes to a few weeks

    Find a mortgage in principle

    Speak to a mortgage expert at the mortgage advice bureau, who can help you find a mortgage that suits you

  • How to find a property

    1-3 months

    How to find a property

    It’s easy to find different properties for sale – log on to a property portal like Rightmove or Zoopla. In some towns there are still homes listed in the newspaper. Or if you know the area you want to be in, have a wander round and keep an eye out for For Sale signs.

    You can also pop into a high street estate agent office, as they’ll have a variety of properties on their list that may not have been advertised yet. Tell them what you’re looking for and they can get in touch if something new is added to the market.

  • Property viewing tips

    20 hours viewing 16 properties - on average

    Property viewing tips

    A home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make and most people may have only visited it for 20 minutes before agreeing to buy. It’s easy to get swept up if you think you’ve found your dream home. Use our checklist when you’re viewing a property and note down any questions.

  • Check the EPC


    Check the EPC

    The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) can give you insight into how energy efficient your home is and what your bills are likely to cost. You can easily check it online.

    Have you checked the EPC?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I want to know more about EPCs
  • Make an offer

    1-5 days from viewing

    Make an offer

    It’s easy to wonder if you’re offering too high or too low! As the estate agent how much interest there has been, how many viewings and offers. Find out as much as you can. You can also use our House Price Forecast to look at average prices in your area.

    Read more
  • Taking the property off the market

    24 hours - few days

    Taking the property off the market

    If your offer has been accepted, you want to make sure you can’t be gazumped later on (when a seller accepts a higher price after your offer is accepted). However, the best way to stop this is to keep the process moving quickly.

    Read more
  • Learn about conveyancing


    Learn about conveyancing

    This is where the legal bit gets going. Conveyancing is the legal practice of transferring ownership of property. To ensure you legally own your new home, you’ll need either a conveyancing solicitor or a licensed conveyancer to do the paperwork.

    Read more
  • Find a solicitor


    Find a solicitor

    Compare quotes and find a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer to help with your home move. Look at price, location, reviews and loads of other factors.

  • Do I need a survey?


    Do I need a survey?

    A survey will tell you if there are issues with your potential property. These could be serious enough for you to back out of the purchase, or they may simply allow for a little renegotiation.

    A survey is not the same as a mortgage valuation, and they are one of the most important steps you can take when buying a home.

  • Find a surveyor


    Find a surveyor

    Compare prices on experienced RICS accredited Surveyors, so you know you’ve got an expert looking at your property.

  • Negotiating after the survey

    1 day to a week

    Negotiating after the survey

    If your survey revealed issues with the property, you've got a few options

    Renegotiate – If a survey finds that you’ll need to replace the roof next year, your surveyor will be able to approximate that cost, and you can ask for the price to be reduced by that amount.

    Walk away – If the problems are structural or incredibly expensive, it may not be worth buying. You may also find an issue with your mortgage lender if the property is in bad condition.

  • Confirm your mortgage

    4 to 6 weeks

    Confirm your mortgage

    Whether you got a Mortgage in Principle or not, now is the time to start talking to a mortgage advisor about your options on your new home. You can either use the lender you had for the MIP, or you can go with someone new (there may be new offers on the market now).

  • Starting the clear out

    2 weeks to 2 months

    Starting the clear out

    If your offer has been accepted, your survey has been done and your mortgage is confirmed, it’s time to start clearing out your property. It may still be a few months until you move, but the sooner you start donating, throwing away or clearing out items, the more time and money you’ll save.

  • Keeping on top of the paper work

    Keeping on top of the paper work

    During this time your solicitor will be dealing with searches, and you’ll potentially receive documents from the sellers outlining what will be included in the sale. Try to stay organised with your paperwork and keep copies of everything.

  • Transferring your deposit

    1 week to several months

    Transferring your deposit

    Accessing ISAs

    You’ll pay your deposit to your solicitor, who will transfer it to the seller. If you have money in a Help to Buy or Lifetime ISA, your solicitor will have to write a letter to release the government bonus included in your deposit. So don’t leave this until the last minute!

    Friday afternoon fraud

    Scammers are pretty savvy at getting hold of your money, and a deposit is one of the largest lump sums you’ll ever transfer. Make sure you confirm the bank details with your solicitor, and test it by sending £1 first, and confirm they received it before sending the balance.

  • Buy buildings insurance


    Buy buildings insurance

    You’ll need your buildings insurance to become active from the moment you ‘exchange’ on the property (when the paperwork is finalised). Your completion date (when your lender pays the balance and you move in) might be a couple of days later.

  • How to choose a removals team


    How to choose a removals team

    It’s easy to think you can do it yourself, but it’s easy to underestimate how much stuff you’ve got, and how much time it will take. Whether you want a team to break down and reassemble furniture, pack your items or just to drive your stuff safely to your new property, you want a team you can trust.

    Don’t forget: get your removals firm to do a survey, this means they can assess in person how much stuff you have and what size van you need.

  • Find a removals firm


    Find a removals firm

    Compare prices and reviews for local removals firms. Get up to 5 quotes and choose the firm who are right for you.

  • Start packing

    1- 4 weeks

    Start packing

    It’s all starting to feel a bit real now – if you haven’t had a good clear out, start ASAP. Be ruthless, there’s no point paying to transport items you’re only going to throw away a year down the line.

  • Exchange

    2-4 months


    Finally, the day has arrived – you’ll want to go to your solicitor’s office to sign the paperwork. They’ll then do their final processes and get ready for completion day. They may carry out some extra searches to ensure you are still financially able to buy the property, and that the seller is the true owner

  • Completion Day

    4-6 months

    Completion Day

    This is the day the money changes hands, the paperwork is finalised and the property officially becomes yours. Your solicitor will request the funds from your lender, transferring them to your seller’s solicitor, and you’ll receive a completion statement.

    That means it’s time to get going with the moving van, and pick up your new keys!

  • Moving Day

    1-3 days

    Moving Day

    Stay calm and stay organised, don’t try to do too much at once and make sure you haven’t packed the kettle!

    You’ve done it! Don’t forget to crack out the Champagne or celebrate with a takeaway.

  • Paying your solicitor and your Stamp Duty

    1 day, completion day

    Paying your solicitor and your Stamp Duty

    After you’ve moved in, your Stamp Duty payment will be due within 14 days of completion. This is usually done by your solicitor, transferred at the same time as other payments. You’ll also pay your solicitor for any disbursements and their fee.

    Your solicitor will register your home ownership with the Land Registry and your mortgage lender will receive the deeds to your property.

  • Taking time to celebrate

    Taking time to celebrate

    There are lots of things you might want to do when you first settle into your new home – get new locks fitted, introduce yourselves to the neighbours, update your accounts to your new address. But don’t forget to celebrate!

    Congratulations, from reallymoving!