Report shows average time to buy house increases to more than five months

Average time to buy now stands at 153 days compared to 124 days in 2019

The average time taken to complete a house purchase now takes longer than five months on average, according to research from Smoove’s Home Movers Report.

Within the last six months, the average time taken to complete the home purchasing process stands at 153 days. By contrast, in 2019 and before the pandemic it took 124 days – an increase of 19 days or 23%.

The increase is most likely a result of the post-lockdown boom, as changing consumer lifestyles and demand outweigh supply, combined with greater capacity constraints for solicitors, and local authority searches taking longer to complete likely due to technology failures or a large backlog.

The home moving process also continues to be a very protracted, fragmented and analogue experience, with many checks and documents still needing to be in physical form, rather than being able to be signed or reviewed digitally.

As a result, nine in 10 homeowners found the process stressful, the sheer length of time it took to complete the process (40%), with the lack of certainty (34%) and waiting for exchange and completion dates to be finalised (33%) amongst the main reasons.

The research shows that the length of time filling out forms, such as property title deeds, EPCs, local authority searches, transaction (TA) and conveyancing forms (TA) is a particular aggravation for homeowners.

The documents that take the longest to wait for and complete include mortgage application/agreement in principle (22%), ID checks (18%) and local authority property searches (16%).

According to Conveyancing Data Services (CDS), the average length of time to receive personal searches from local councils across England and Wales was between nine to 11 days in August. However, while the majority of councils are processing requests in a reasonable timeframe, some councils are taking longer on search times, such as Middlesbrough (35 to 40 working days) and Havering (65 to 70 working days).

Simon McCulloch, Chief Commercial and Growth officer, commented:

“Too often we hear of the misery that comes with moving home. The sheer length of time it takes to complete the process is a major stress driver. Local property searches being delayed only adds to the pressure and these significantly vary region by region with some search times taking up to 70 days. For this reason, we recommend ordering your searches as soon as possible, particularly as we, in partnership with CDS, offer a refresh or replacement service if needed.

A further way to reduce time and stress for all parties is to use a platform or conveyancer that offers services like electronic onboarding, ID verification and case tracking. We need to modernise the industry and systematically transform the home moving experience by increasingly digitising and automating the process. Whether that means providing transactional visibility, quicker checks, automatic form filling, or real time updates, these will all ultimately ensure a more satisfactory outcome for everyone.”

Join nearly 5,000 other conveyancers – sign up to our newsletter

One Response

  1. Being Pro-active can make the biggest difference to the timeframes. Working with the agent from the point that they go out to carry out a market appraisal is key to brining down the timeframes. So many times do I hear an agent bad mouthing a conveyancer because they are not happy with the timeframes in which the transaction is proceeding. Whilst I understand that there are improvements to be made in the conveyancing process, if you work closely with the agent issues can be highlighted from the start.
    I would encourage an agent to download the Title Register for a property prior to the market appraisal and ask your preferred conveyancer to help you understand it. This can highlight so many potential obstacles early on. As soon as the property is due to marketed, get your seller legally prepared by completing all the protocol forms and supplying their conveyancer with everything from the outset.

Want to have your say? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more stories

Join over 7,000 conveyancing professionals – Check back daily for all the latest news, views, insights and best practice and sign up to our e-newsletter to receive our daily and weekly round ups

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.