Definitive Guide:
How Long Should It Take To Sell Your House?

Original research

Keep reading to discover…
  • Insider secrets from serial house sellers
  • How long each step of your sale should take
  • How to speed up you sale if it’s stalled
  • And lots more…

 



Beware of misleading information

Most ‘time to sell’ statistics (reported by the press &/or found online) are for the time it takes to find a buyer / accept an offer.

Finding a buyer / accepting an offer is not the whole story.

This is…

How long to sell a house chart

Average UK home selling times (at a glance)

Below are the headline results from TheAdvisory’s ‘Time to sell’ benchmark study 2018.

Survey sample size = 1726 residential properties (2017/18 England & Wales)

 

Average Time To Sell A House (1st day of marketing - legal completion)

MARKET TYPEDAYSWEEKSMONTHS
ALL129184.2
COLD176255.8
HOT114163.7

 

Average Time To Accept An Offer

MARKET TYPEDAYSWEEKSMONTHS
ALL5071.6
COLD101143.3
HOT3451.1

 

Average Time From Offer Acceptance To Exchange

MARKET TYPEDAYSWEEKSMONTHS
ALL6592.1
COLD6292
HOT6592.2

 

Average Time From Exchange To Completion

MARKET TYPEDAYSWEEKS
ALL142
COLD132
HOT142

 

Average Number Of Viewings To Sell A House

MARKET TYPEVIEWINGS
ALL10
COLD9
HOT11

Action: Check PropCast™ to know out how ‘hot’ your market is

Which factors most impact the time it takes to sell

Below, TheAdvisory presents survey data from a panel of professional house sellers, market analysts & industry experts.

Their answers provide insight into what really impacts the time it takes to sell a house.

factors that impact how long it takes to sell a house

About the study

The above data represents the opinions of our respondents on the various weighting of factors that are most commonly cited as having an impact on transaction times.

Our respondents rated the relative levels of influence exerted by each factor on a scale of 1 (not influential) to 10 (highly influential).

Top 3 factors (a closer look)

#1. Price Asked

The price you ask in relation to similar properties currently on the market has the biggest impact on how long it takes to sell.

  • Thankfully this is one factor you have total control over.
  • The simple truth is you can’t ask more than the competition and expect to sell.
  • Overpriced properties often get viewings, but they rarely find a buyer willing to actually complete on the sale.
  • Ask less than the competition and you’re almost assured to generate immediate interest (potentially even a bidding war).

Read: How much is my house REALLY worth?

#2. Market Heat

How ‘hot’ (or not) your market is has major impact on how long it could take you to sell.

  • You have no control over this factor other than to postpone your sale and hope market conditions improve (they may not).
  • In a cold market (a buyers’ market) buyers have the upper hand and sellers need to price their homes ultra competitively to avoid sitting on the market indefinitely.
  • In a hot market (a sellers’ market) sellers have the upper hand, homes sell quickly (if priced sensibly) and bidding wars are more common.

Action: Check PropCast™ to find out how hot your market is

#3. Quality of Solicitors

An overworked solicitor that takes ages to respond to even the simplest enquiry can reduce progress of your sale to a snails pace.

  • This is another factor you have total control over.
  • Don’t choose your solicitor purely on price – Ultra cheap solicitors are overworked solicitors.
  • Do not automatically use the conveyancer referred / suggested by your estate agent [1]. The conveyancers partners for national online & hybrid estate agencies have particularly poor reputations as do those run by corporate estate agency groups.

Why did ‘Quality of estate agents’ only score 7?

The experts surveyed for this study are all highly experienced property sellers.

They rely less on the estate agents to guide them compared to the general public.

As such, ‘quality of estate agent’ only rated at a 7 (which is still pretty high).

However…

…Unless you’re a highly experienced house seller (100+ sales) then we would say 9 / 10 would be more representative of how much impact an estate agent will have (both positive and negative depending on their quality).

The way viewings are booked, the way clients are looked after and the ability to negotiate tactfully will all have a huge impact on the chance of a successful sale being agreed.

Your choice of estate agent will directly impact; the price you achieve, the stress you experience & the time it takes you to sell.

We hope the diagram below helps you better visualise the estate agency landscape, and how your choice will impact your sale:

Key takeaway

Don’t settle for anything less than a GREAT agent

Guardian comment on how a good estate agent kept a sale on track
source: The Guardian

What to do if you need to sell quickly?

Your best course of action will depend on:

  1. The state of your local market
  2. Exactly how quickly you need the sale to complete

Need to sell in 0-8 weeks?

Need to sell in 8-16 weeks?

  • In hot markets this timeframe should be achievable with intelligent pricing and estate agency choices.
  • In a cold markets you’re unlikely to find a buyer and complete the transaction within this timeframe via estate agents.

Cold market options: If you do need to guarantee a sale within this timeframe:

  • Your best option will be to use a genuine cash house buying company.
  • Alternatively, consider going to auction if your property has development potential, income potential, title defects or is of non-standard construction.

Read: How to sell your house fast in 2018

4 top tips to help speed up your sale

You can’t control the market but you can control yourself and the team you choose.

The following tips will all significantly decrease the time it takes you to sell your home:

#1. Be proactive

  • Don’t go on holiday
  • Attend to, sign and return all paperwork quickly
  • Check in with your solicitor weekly
  • Check in with you estate agent weekly
  • Adopt a team spirit mindset
  • Instruct your solicitor early
  • Consider gifting legal searches to your buyer

#2. Use a quality solicitor

Cheap solicitors are overworked and slow as a result of this.

What you want is one that:

  • Works quickly
  • Works on a no move no fee basis
  • Solve problems instead of just finds them
  • Happily cooperates with estate agents

#3. Use a quality estate agent

The majority of struggling house sellers we speak to are failing to sell because they initially made the classic mistake…

…They chose the agent that gave them the highest valuation (or quoted the cheapest fee).

Estate agents that can only win business by charging low fees (or overpromising on the achievable sale price) are almost always rubbish estate agents.

You’ll get a far better result if you find one that:

  • Helps you price your home to generate immediate interest
  • Qualifies buyers, checks the entire chain (if applicable), assesses offers and gives expert advice / guidance on which buyer to run with
  • Holds deals together when problems arise
  • Chases chains, keeps gentle pressure on solicitors and keeps the transaction moving

#4. Consider going multi-agency

Professional house sellers (like us) always use two (strategically chosen) estate agents working in competition with one another on a winner takes all basis.

  • Competition like this motivates estate agents to prioritise your sale and ultimately get you a better result, faster.
  • Using two estate agents in this way will increases your chances of sparking competitive bidding from multiple interested buyers.
  • This then gives you the best chance of securing a premium price for your property (in the shortest possible time).
  • The downside is that managing 2 estate agents is tricky unless you have a great deal of experience.
  • Both agents will be talking up their own game and it’s hard to know whom to trust (unless very experienced).

‘Time to Sell’ benchmark study [original research]

If you’ve visited our about page you’ll know the team behind TheAdvisory are NOT estate agents…

We’re experienced house sellers:

  • We achieve (on average) 100.6% of the ‘target achievable sale price’ (TAP).
  • That means we consistently get the price we set out to achieve.
  • And we have a 100% sales success rate (the general public have a 50% success rate).

There are 3 key factors that explain why we achieve superior results compared to a general public:

1. Zero emotion

  • We have no emotional attachment to these properties and this allows us to make better commercial decisions.

2. Accurate pricing

  • We know the secret to getting accurate (& truthful) pricing advice out of estate agents.
  • This enables us to avoid falling victim to the endemic estate agency practice of ‘deliberate overpricing to win the instruction’ which will increase the time it takes to sell, kill a sale dead or cut £1,000’s of eventual sale prices.

3. Better estate agency choices

  • We strategically select the most appropriate estate agents for any given property.
  • The technique for doing this is rarely followed by the general public.

Big whoop! So what?

Please know, the above details are not some attempt at braggadocio…

We just wanted to explain why the following analysis is:

  1. A unique study
  2. A useful indication of how long it should take to sell, if you avoid all the most common mistakes.

Survey sample size = 1726 residential properties (2017/18 England & Wales)

What is the average time it takes to sell a house in the UK?

The study currently pegs the average time it should take to sell a house at 4.2 months (1st day of marketing -> legal completion).

Av. time to sell a house

= 4.2 months (18 weeks / 129 days)

Graph showing how long it takes to sell a house on average in weeks

 

Histogram of how long it takes to sell a house

Key takeaways

  1. In cold markets, the majority (70%) of house sales took +180 days from 1st day of marketing to legal completion.
  2. In hot markets, the majority (79%) of house sales took 61-150 days from 1st day of market to legal completion.

Action: Check PropCast™ to see if your market is hot or cold

How long does it take to get an offer?

The study indicates on average it should take 7 weeks to agree a sale at an acceptable price.

Av. time to get an offer

= 7 weeks (50 days / 1.6 months)

Average time it takes to get an offer on a house

 

Histogram: How long does it take on average to get an offer

Key takeaways

1. Most members of the public expect their homes to go under offer within 4-6 weeks.

  • In cold markets these expectations are unrealistic (in many cases).

2. In hot markets, it would be highly unusual for a house not to go under offer within 60 days (8 weeks / 2 months).

  • Failure to secure an offer within 60 days is a strong signal the house is overpriced or your estate agent is incompetent / unsuitable (or both).

3. In cold markets it usually take longer to find a buyer. The majority (70%) of properties took +90 days (3-6 months) to secure an acceptable offer.

  • Of note are the 30% of offers that were received within 30 days. This shows property can sell quickly in a cold market but it’s down to luck + getting the fundamentals right (competitive pricing & optimal estate agency choice).

Pro tip: In a cold market it’s hard to use days on market as an indicator of whether your price has been pitched correctly.

  • In cold markets, all bets are off as sometimes it’s simply a matter of patience.
  • Sometimes you have no option but to wait for the buyer to turn up.

In cold markets it’s more reliable to use the number (and frequency) of viewings as a way to diagnose potential problems with your sale.

Bottom Line

As you can see, there are big variations between hot and cold markets.

As such, be very wary of regional statistics often quoted in the press…

…There are markets within markets and there is a good chance your property doesn’t follow the overarching regional trend.

Action: Check PropCast™ to see if the market for your home is hot or cold

How many viewings on average to sell a house?

The study indicates on average it should take 10 viewings to agree a sale at an acceptable level.

Av. number of viewings

= 10 viewings

Average number of viewings to sell a house

 

Histogram: Number of viewings to sell a house by market type

Key takeaways

In hot markets, it took on average 11 viewings to agree a sale at an acceptable level.

  • Only 20% of sales were agreed with less than 5 viewings.
  • The majority of sales were agreed with 6-10 viewings.
  • For sought after properties in very hot markets, it’s not uncommon to receive +15 viewings within a short period of time.
  • With a decent agent you should expect to get roughly 2 viewings per week and be under offer within 4-6 weeks.

In cold markets it took on average 9 viewings to agree a sale at an acceptable level.

  • Again, only 20% of sales were agreed with less than 5 viewings.
  • The majority of sales were agreed with 6-15 viewings.
  • With a decent agent you should expect to get roughly 1 viewing every week and a half and be under offer within 14-16 weeks.

Action: Check PropCast™ to see if the market for your home is hot or cold

Q. I’m getting lots of viewing BUT no offers? What does it mean?

This means that on paper, buyers like the look (and price) of your house, but when they come and see it in the flesh, something causes them to feel it’s not worth the price being asked.

If you’ve had +10 viewings but no offers it’s highly likely something about your sale need changing.

Your core problem will either be with the condition or the location of the property:

  • Location issues can only be overcome with a price reduction.
  • Structural issues can either be overcome with a price reduction or you can get the work done yourself.
  • Cosmetic issues can either be overcome with a price reduction or you can do the work yourself (or hire a home stager).

There is one other possible factor at play…

Is your agent covering for the fact they initially overpriced your home to secure your instruction?

Are they now dragging unsuitable buyers around your home just to keep viewing numbers up and you off their back?

This is a difficult issue to self-diagnose because you may have to face up to some uncomfortable truths.

The first step on the road to recovery is to read the following guide:

Read: How much is your house REALLY worth?

We also offer hands-on help:

Struggling to sell? Book your FREE house sale diagnosis

Q. My house is on the market BUT I’m not getting any viewings? What does it mean?

It the majority of cases, this is a clear indication that your asking price is too high.

Your choice of estate agent may also be a contributing factor.

Some agents are simply less well suited to generating buyers for certain types of property (in certain markets).

This is especially true if you’re selling in a cold market and using a national online or hybrid estate agent.

Pro tip: Before you take an axe to your asking price, I would recommend you first check you’re on the market with the most effective estate agent for your property.

Switching agent may not totally remove the need to tweak your asking price, but it will reduce the amount you have to tweak it by to generate solid interest in your property.

Get savvy: Which estate agents will be most effective at selling your home?

How long does it take to sell a house after an offer is accepted?

The study indicates on average it should take 11 weeks from accepting an offer to legal completion of the transaction.

Av. time to sell from offer to completion

= 11 weeks (77 days / 2.5 months)

Avert time to sell a house from offer acceptance to completion

 

Histogram: Average time to sell a house from offer acceptance to completion

Key takeaways

Most pundits will tell you the average time from offer acceptance to completion should be around 12 weeks (85 days / 2.7 months).

And indeed, typical timescales across the UK range from 12-21 weeks (85-150 days).

However…

…Much can go wrong post offer acceptance and so if you get really unlucky it can be as long as 40 weeks (280 days).

Our sales progression processes are optimised which is why we’re at the quicker end of the scale averaging 11 weeks (77 days) in both hot and cold markets.

However, there was an interesting difference between hot and cold markets that isn’t highlighted by looking at averages:

  • Hot markets: The largest proportion of sales went through in 8-12 weeks (61-90 days).
  • Cold market: The largest proportion of sale went though in 4-8 weeks (31-60 days).

The reasons for the shorter timescales in cold markets are as follows:

  1. In cold markets we tend to be more risk adverse and so we tend to buy cheaper property. Cheaper properties attract more cash buyers and cash buyers can move faster than buyers getting mortgage funding.
  2. In cold markets there are fewer transactions happening and so people are less busy. This means; solicitors, surveyors, estate gents and everyone else involved in the sale have less on their plate and able to be more efficient.
  3. In cold markets we tend to steer clear of leasehold properties because they are more complex & take longer to complete due to having to deal with 3rd party management companies (who are often inept and slow).

Q. How long if selling to a cash buyer?

If there is no chain and the buyer has cash readily available, it should take no longer than 8 weeks (60 days) from offer acceptance to completion.

If the property is freehold, the cash purchaser is experienced, the seller is proactive and the seller’s solicitor is proactive there is no reason why it can’t be achieved in 4 weeks (30 days).

In exceptional circumstances, genuine cash house buying companies can do it in 7-14 days when required.

Q. How long to sell when there’s no chain? 

If selling to a first time buyer with a mortgage, it should no longer than 10 weeks (70 days) from offer acceptance to completion.

What is the average time from accepting an offer to exchange of contracts?

The study indicates on average it should take 9 weeks from offer acceptance to exchange of contracts.

Av. time from offer to exchange

= 9 weeks (65 days / 2.1 months)

How long on average does it take from getting an offer to exchange of contracts

 

Histogram: Average time from accepting an offer to exchange of contracts

Average time from exchange to completion?

The study indicates on average it should take 2 weeks from exchange of contracts to completion.

Av. time from exchange to completion

= 2 weeks (14 days / 0.5 months)

How long on average does a house sale take from exchange to completion

 

Histogram: Time it takes from exchange of contracts to legal completion

Top Tip: Setting your completion date when selling in a chain

It’s sensible to set completion for at least 2-4 weeks after exchange of contracts to give everyone time to prepare properly for the removal vans to arrive.

Simultaneous exchange and completion is possible but it carries risks…

…It only takes one mortgage company to fail to get the money through in time, or some small piece of paperwork to be delayed for a situation to arise where people are sat with removal vans outside their properties, unable to complete because something is not in place.

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Gavin Brazg

Gavin Brazg

MSc Dip Arch

Founder & CEO

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