How Long Does it Take to Sell a House?

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How Long Does it Take to Sell a House?
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The writer Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914) defined patience as:

A minor form of despair disguised as a virtue.

Most people selling their house can relate to this.

After all, it includes stressful negotiations and uncertainties. And nothing is final until contracts are exchanged.

So, exactly how long can it take to sell your house in the UK?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this.

However, understanding the different processes and timeframes involved might strengthen your patience.

How long is the average time to sell a house?

According to Zoopla, the average time it takes to sell a house in the UK is 25 weeks (which is approximately 6 months).

This time span is from the moment you first contact an estate agent about listing it on the market to the completion day when the sale goes through.

This figure is based on the fact that most of the approximately 1.1 million houses sold in the UK yearly are done so on the open market with estate agents.

However, there are other ways to sell houses

Alternative ways to sell houses (and their timeframes)

As you might expect, many people search for faster ways to sell a house. Below are three of the most popular alternatives to estate agents.

1. Selling privately to a friend or family member (4 – 8 weeks)

Selling your house privately to a friend (/acquaintance) or family member is one way to speed up a house sale.

However, this relies on knowing someone who happens to want to buy your house at the same time you want to sell it.

Not a common occurrence…

If you find such a person, and everything is in place, the process should take between 4 – 8 weeks.

The only thing that could slow it down are the professionals you hire along the way and the time it takes you to find them.

2. Auction houses (6 – 8 weeks)

Auction houses for properties allow bidders to view houses in the weeks before the auction day. They then charge a commission on all sales.

They are faster than estate agents (less than half the time on average).

And some auction houses specialise in fast sales, so it may be worth contacting them to see how they can make your house sell quicker.

However, there are a limited number of auction houses across the country (a few hundred). And there is no guarantee that your property will sell on auction day.

3. Cash house buying (1 – 4 weeks)

cash house buyer is a company (or individual) with funds to buy a property (/properties) directly.

They can buy houses in as little as 7 days, making them the fastest house-selling channel available.

The drawback is that they do not offer the full market value of a property. Instead, they offer between 75 – 85% of the open market value and don’t charge extra costs.

What impact does the market have on selling prices?

Market conditions can significantly impact the time it takes to sell your house.

When interest rates are higher, mortgages are typically more expensive, which may make potential buyers less likely to enter the market.

This gives the remaining buyers more choice and power in negotiations.

Meanwhile, when interest rates are lower, mortgages become less expensive, and you may see a lot more buyers entering the market.

Time of year

The time of year can have an effect, too.

For example, market activity tends to be the highest in Spring, followed by early Summer.

On the other hand, when people are on their holidays in August and December, market activity typically slows down.

Do some property types sell faster than others?

Yes, the data suggests that some types of property will typically sell faster than others.

Example: Flats vs semi-detached

Many property experts argue that flats often take longer to sell because there is a far greater supply of these around the country.

Detached houses are much less common, especially in major cities, and therefore tend to get snapped up very quickly.

Do houses sell quicker in different parts of the country?

Different parts of the country have different local market conditions.

Availability and demand for properties will influence local conditions.

This is why estate agents with an in-depth knowledge of the local area are important (if you choose this route).

The affordability of houses can also make a difference.

In some areas, suburbs of big cities become known locally as great places for first-time buyers. And this often translates into greater activity amongst this demographic.

On the other hand, certain property types – such as bungalows – are becoming scarcer. Whichever area you’re in, competition for these house types may be greater.

Example: Birmingham

For example, in Birmingham in May 2024, there was the following variance based on property type:

  • Detached: 148 days
  • Semi-detached: 133 days
  • Terraced: 140 days
  • Flat: 295 days

The average across all four of these property types was 211 days.

How can I guarantee a fast sale using an estate agent?

If speed is of utmost importance for you, research is crucial.

Some estate agencies are undoubtedly more efficient than others. You should check online reviews for mentions of satisfaction and speed.

If possible, it is worth speaking to family and friends that you trust about their experience with specific estate agents.

Can a bad conveyancer slow down a sale?

Yes. Completing paperwork, liaising with the other party’s conveyancer, and completing all searches are major parts of a property transaction. 

If you complete these activities quickly, your sale can proceed much faster than average.

However, if your conveyancer takes a long time, you could wait weeks or months longer than expected.

It is essential to understand what conveyancers do in general and research specific potential conveyancers before approaching them.

What is the fastest way to sell a house?

The fastest way to sell your house is using a reliable cash buying company.

These organisations can complete your property purchase within 7 days – and the funds will be in your account just 48 hours later.

Good cash buying companies can also purchase your house in any condition, anywhere in the country.

This can save you the weeks or months that might otherwise be spent renovating a house, evicting your tenants, or negotiating on price with potential buyers.

Beware of bad actors

As with any industry, there are bad actors in the cash buying industry.

Some entice customers with the promise of a quick sale, which inevitably gets delayed whilst they (the so-called ‘cash buyer’) looks for a buyer.

Do I need to price my house fairly for a fast sale?

Yes. When your house is priced fairly, you will get more buyers interested in purchasing it, and you won’t spend weeks or months waiting for an enquiry.

Some estate agents have been known to mislead sellers about the true value of their house.

Although the inflated figure they initially offer may sound tempting, it will only slow down your sale in the long term.

What documents can I prepare before contacting an estate agent?

Not having the correct documents in order can significantly hinder selling a house.

The more preparation you do before contacting an estate agent, the better.

Firstly, you can get an updated Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). You should also have proof of your identity ready.

With the help of an expert, you may be able to complete the Fittings and Contents form beforehand. This form outlines which furniture and other objects you want included (and excluded) in the sale.

(Including furniture in the sale of your property can sometimes increase the value and/or speed of a sale).

You could get a copy of the Title Deeds ready as well, as this will be required throughout the selling process.

Should I be honest about any faults with my house?

It is important that you be completely honest about any faults with your property.

It is natural to be worried that these will slow down the sale of your house.

But defects will show up in property surveys anyway, damaging your relationship with the buyer.

Honesty is always the best policy and can avoid weeks of price negotiations in the future.

Sell your house fast with We Buy Any Home

We Buy Any Home are chain-free cash house buyers who can purchase your property up-front and quickly, without hassle or stress.

We offer the perfect opportunity for a very quick house sale.

Fill in our enquiry form below if you want a cash offer for your house.

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