Giving keys


There are often several points in the house buying and selling process that can cause a delay, and even when both buyer and seller are keen to exchange quickly, things can unexpectedly grind to a halt.

However, there are a few things you can do to make the process as stress-free and smooth as possible. Here are our top tips to help you buy your property quicker.


How long should it take?

The average property transaction takes around 12 weeks, from start to finish, provided there are no major setbacks along the way.

The pre-exchange period (where the contracts are being reviewed) is the most time-consuming part of the process, and the point in the sale most likely to experience delays – you can expect a lot of back and forth between solicitors, agents and mortgage advisors – especially if you’re part of a chain. However, if there is no chain involved, the process will be a lot faster.

How can a chain cause a delay?

Property chains progress at the pace of the slowest person, so if one is delayed by a few days, everyone else will be too. The same goes for if all parties in the chain find properties at different times, everyone else has to wait until the last person in the chain has found a property in order to move. And if one of the sales falls through in the chain, it will have a knock-on effect to all others - either they will all be held up or the chain collapses and everyone will have to find new properties.

Do searches and surveys hold up the sale of a property?


As part of the process, a conveyancer will complete a number of legal searches to ensure there are no outstanding factors you should be aware of. Some searches will be recommended by the solicitor, and others will be required by the mortgage lender for all purchases.

Property surveys take time to schedule, complete, and write up, and once completed, may highlight problems which will take time to deal with, potentially including getting specialist reports and quotes for any work needed.

What can you do to speed up the process?


Firstly, make sure you’re organised. Your agent should be able to give you an idea of what paperwork is likely to be required during the process, so make sure to keep copies of all documents to hand in case you need them at any point.


You should speak to a mortgage adviser to confirm your budget and get an agreement in principle from them. When your offer is accepted, you’ll receive a formal mortgage offer, but remember this will only be valid for a set time-frame, and if you don’t complete on the property before it expires, you’ll need to start the process again.


Choosing a first-class solicitor will make a real difference. A good conveyancer or solicitor is crucial to the whole process, so it’s important you’re working with someone you trust. Ask for recommendations from friends or colleagues, or take a look at our guidance on picking the perfect solicitor, to ensure your sale or purchase is in good hands.

At the start of the process, your solicitor or conveyancer will probably send a lot of information through to you, and it’s important to review, fill out, sign and return everything quickly and efficiently. If you aren’t sure of the answer to any of the questions, speak to your agent, as giving incorrect answers at this stage is likely to lead to enquiries being raised later.


Don’t rush anything, but don’t sit on things for two or three weeks as you’ll be holding up the process. Accept that normal life may need to take a back seat until you have exchanged contracts, and make sure you’re fully contactable – even if you’re on holiday.


Make sure to keep in regular contact with your solicitor and estate agent so you’re up to speed with what’s going on throughout the process. To help keep things moving, you might want to agree on a weekly update between all parties at the start of the process to reduce the chances of any miscommunication or misunderstandings.


By agreeing on a realistic target date for exchange, everyone has a set deadline to work towards, which should give the whole process some impetus and structure. If one side or both sides aren’t in a rush to move, build in some extra time between exchange and completion rather than being too flexible with the exchange date.


It’s important to stay in the loop because if you understand what needs to be done and by when, it’s easier for you to manage the sale process and keep on top of what needs chasing up.

Quote mark

'Property transactions occasionally take longer than expected and there is nothing more frustrating for someone who is eager to move, than a delayed transaction.

'Planning well and managing your own expectations can help mitigate against this and your estate agent should be able to guide you through the process and keep things moving on your behalf.'

David Cox

Mark Hayward
NAEA Propertymark



Moving House

Making Moving Day Easy

Moving house is one of the most stressful things you will ever have to do and with so much going on, it can be easy to forget something essential. Read our tips on how to make it easy. Read more...

hand shake

How to choose a solicitor or conveyancer

If you're buying or selling a home, there will come a time when you will need to choose a solicitor or a conveyancer to help with the legal transfer of the property. Read more...

Find an Expert

Find an Expert

Search for a Propertymark Protected expert to ensure your property is in safe and reliable hands. More info...