Buying a house: what is the process and steps, and what is the timeline?

Mar 29, 2021
Buying a House
Daunted by the prospect of embarking on a homebuying journey? You needn’t be. We’ve broken down the entire house buying process from start to finish, with information and approximate timescales for every step of the way*. 


Typically, a homebuying journey lasts between 3-6 months, but it can vary depending on both the buyer’s and seller’s circumstances – unforeseen conveyancing issues can also add further delays. However, buying a new build can greatly speed up the process as there are no existing owners or chain to be taken into consideration, so the timings are based on how early in the homebuilding process you reserve your new home.  


Before beginning your search for a new home, it’s essential you calculate your budget, as well as how much you might need to borrow. A mortgage adviser can help with this, but as a rough guide you can usually borrow up to 4 times the amount of your gross income.


Step 1: Finding a property

How long does it take to find a property to buy? 

On average, it takes 10-12 weeks to find the right home.

What happens? 

If you’re buying new, you’ll need to narrow down the areas you’re interested in, search property listings online, and visit the development’s sales office. Alternatively, if not buying a new home, you’ll speak to a variety of estate agents to arrange your viewings. Once you’ve found a property you want to buy, it’s time to reserve it or put in an offer.

Step 2: Securing a mortgage

How long does it take to get a mortgage? 

It takes, on average, 2-6 weeks to secure a mortgage.

What happens?

You might want to speak to a number of different lenders before agreeing and applying for a mortgage in principle. However, if you’re buying a new build, we suggest you speak to a new homes mortgage adviser who can give you specialist advice. Once your mortgage in principle has been granted, it’s usually valid for up to 6 months. 

And don’t forget that, whether you’re a first-time or existing buyer, we have a wide range of offers to help you make your next move.

See Our Low Deposit Schemes >

See Our Help to Sell Schemes >

Step 3: Employing a conveyancer

How long does it take? 

You’ll typically employ a conveyancer for 8-12 weeks.

What happens? 

A conveyancer is a specialist property lawyer, who will act as a mediator between you, your mortgage provider, and the seller (or us if you’re buying one of our homes). Their role will include the handling of:

  • Any contracts exchanged between parties
  • Land Registry Deed
  • Stamp Duty Tax (see how much you could save with the current Stamp Duty Holiday)
  • Money transfer at point of sale

Learn more about the legal steps of buying a new home.

Step 4: Conducting a survey

How long does it take to conduct a survey? 

Conducting a survey can take up to 3 weeks, on average. 

What happens? 

After inspecting the property, a surveyor will provide you with a detailed building report, including vital information on the home you intend to purchase. 

Step 5: Exchanging contracts and completing sale

How long does it take to exchange contracts and complete sale? 

The completion of sale usually takes between 1-3 weeks.

What happens? 

This will be handled by your conveyancer, and the timeframe can vary depending on type of property, length of property chain, and any surveying issues. Once contracts have been exchanged, a completion date will be set. On this date, your conveyancer will handle the transfer of funds, and the property will become yours. 

Step 6: Moving in

How long does it take to move in to a new home? 

Typically, no longer than a week.

What happens? 

We recommend giving yourself plenty of time to pack your belongings before you move, as it can be surprisingly time consuming. Also, it’s useful to label your boxes, and have any essential items (like the kettle!) where they’re easy to access.