Moving House – How Long Does It Take?

Image of s snail with a house for a shell


The first question most people ask when buying or selling a house is “how long does it take?” This is the million-dollar question, but it’s actually quite difficult to answer.

What may seem like a perfectly straight-forward transaction; for example buying or selling a house that is empty, can sometimes take much longer than initially anticipated. This is because there are many factors at play during the conveyancing process.


After an offer has been accepted on a property, the stopwatch on the legal process will not start running until the ‘contract pack’ has been received by the purchaser’s solicitor. The contract pack contains the initial information needed by the purchaser’s solicitor to investigate the title and order searches. Depending on the area, some searches can take up to 6 weeks to be received. This is unfortunately outside of the conveyancer’s control.


If the purchaser (or any purchaser in the chain) is mortgage funded, the purchaser’s solicitor must receive their copy of the mortgage offer and check all the conditions are acceptable. The mortgage offer is an important part of the process; without it, the purchaser will not have the required funds to proceed.

Legal Enquiries

The purchaser’s solicitor will, most likely, have some questions that require clarification before they can proceed. Some issues are relatively easy to resolve and involve the seller’s solicitor supplying copies of documents. Sometimes, the issues are complex and require specialist attention or require applications to the Land Registry. Each property is different and so different issues arise at various times throughout the process. The conveyancer is required to report some issues to the purchaser’s mortgage lender and will not be able to proceed until the lender is satisfied the issues have been resolved.

The Chain

More often than not, when moving house there will be a chain of people who all need to move on the same day. Sometimes chains can be as short as three parties. Sometimes they are very long and it is extremely difficult to co-ordinate all parties to complete on one particular person’s preferred moving date.

Although it is nearly impossible to give an accurate anticipated completion date at the start of the process; we are finding that an average transaction takes around 12 weeks to complete. The 12 weeks runs from the receipt of the contract pack, rather than from when the offer is accepted.

However, if you do have a particular moving date in mind or if you have holidays booked, just let your conveyancer know and they will do what they can to facilitate you and your circumstances.

Post written by Katie Holmes
July 2019

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