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First-time Buyer

Average time to buy a home exceeds five months

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

The average time to buy a home has risen by nearly a quarter since 2019 with the process now taking over five months from start to finish.

Within the last six months, data revealed the average time taken to complete the home buying process stands at 153 days, according to Smoove’s home movers report.

This is up from the 124 days recorded in 2019, a 23% increase.

Smoove said the increase was most likely due to the result of the post-lockdown boom.

The stamp duty holiday, increased demand, greater workloads for solicitors and local authority searches taking longer due to technology issues or large backlogs all impacted the homebuying process.

The firm said the home moving process was still a “protracted, fragmented and analogue experience” as many of the checks and documents needed to be physical rather than signed or reviewed digitally.

The majority of homeowners, nine in 10, said the process was stressful with 40% pointing to the length of time to complete the process as a key issue.

Over a third (34%) said the lack of certainty was a problem, and for a further third of buyers waiting for exchange and completion dates to be finalised was an issue.

Smoove’s research showed the documents that take the longest to complete included the mortgage application and agreement in principle (22%).

This was followed by ID checks at 18% and local authority property searches at 16%.

Data from the Conveyancing Data Services (CDS) shows the average length of time to receive personal searches form local councils in England and Wales was between nine and 11 days in August.

‘The length of time is…a major stress driver’

Simon McCulloch, Smoove’s chief commercial and growth officer, said: “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.”