How long to exchange contracts?

How Long Does It Take To Exchange Contracts?

Author: Lauren Coleman

I have to admit the first time I moved house I didn’t understand what all the fuss is was about. How could buying and selling a property be one of the most stressful things to do? My experience as a first timer buyer was quick and easy. Our teeny two bed was officially ours five weeks after our first viewing. Our solicitor was speedy and efficient and the exchange of contracts took place four and a half weeks after our offer was accepted.

As a direct contrast, the second time left me vowing never to move house again. Despite it taking just eight weeks from offer acceptance to completion, we experienced the usual solicitor ineptitude, delays and enlightening discoveries. A huge amount of time and effort was spent going back and forth over planning permissions and building regulations and potential indemnity policies. Then on the day of exchange it materialised our ‘cash buyer’ couldn’t get a mortgage. Perhaps it’s just me who had a misunderstanding on the concept of a cash purchase?! A week later we simultaneously exchanged and completed in the same minute and the house officially became ours at 4pm on a Tuesday. We loaded James’ Dad’s van with all our worldly belongings and went back to work the next morning utterly jaded by the whole experience.
Four years later I decided to approach the most recent house move with a more laid back approach. The previous house move had proved it all turns out alright in the end so surely there was no need to allow stress and anxiety to set in? This lasted about 24 hours.
Our seller set the expectation of a five week period for exchange with a completion date three weeks later in mid November. The rest of the chain willingly obliged. All in and settled for December? Champagne all round.
Any of our regular readers will know James and I didn’t complete until just before Christmas. Things didn’t quite go to plan and there was a catalogue of issues; our solicitor forgot to instruct the searches (not once, but twice) leading to a three week delay and late on in the process we discovered the top of the chain required a court of protection order to sell the property on behalf of an elderly lady in a care home. This piece of paperwork can take anything from three weeks to a year to arrive. Yep you read that right. Luckily for us we were on the former of the scale and the contract became legally binding 24 hours before we officially owned the house.
The question I posed at the beginning on how long does it take to exchange can be answered with the old cliche, how long is a piece of string? In the end the thirteen weeks from offer acceptance to completion was very realistic. I have a friend who spent nearly a year waiting to exchange contract due to a lease extension and it’s been a whole other ball game for my friends buying in Scotland.
What’s your experience of conveyancing? How long did it take from offer acceptance to exchange and then on to completion? Any words of wisdom you’d like to share for keeping your cool during the usually stressful experience?

Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
Follow Lauren on instagram @mrslaurencoleman
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67 thoughts on “How Long Does It Take To Exchange Contracts?

  1. We had a pretty stressful house sale ourselves. After being on the market for 7 months we accepted an offer from a first time buyer with a mortgage offer accepted in September. We were told it will go through quickly so to start packing. After 8 weeks of no news the buyers end we chased and found out they haven’t even gone back to the bank to do the paperwork. Excuses of work shifts and not being sure how to get a mortgage were given. The mortgage approval seemed to take forever and we went through Christmas still in our old house. January was very stressful as I was 7 months pregnant at the time and we had that horrible survey report that nit picks everything. Not helped by the buyers solicitor only giving us the first page of it so once it was agreed they told us they missed out the other four pages! Eventually we agreed on a price and pushed for an exchange with completion a week after. I was 8 months pregnant when we moved and lived with family (until that property sold), then rented for 6 months. In the meantime we Failed to buy two houses as the sellers pulled out just before exchanging citing a change of mind. Finally we bought again in April where from offer to completion took 6 weeks and was a breeze. I now tell everyone we are definitely not moving for a very very long time!

    1. Oh Sara, this sounds hugely stressful, and all while you were heavily pregnant too. Hoping you’re all settled now x

  2. Despite buying our house from a family member and with zero chain it took 6 months to exchange on our house. There was no other reason for it other than the laziness of the solicitor involved and sheer complacency. The frustration of buying a house is so huge as there is nothing that you yourself can do to speed up the process. Ultimately you are putting the biggest investment of your entire life into the hands of a total stranger; a stranger who often cares very little when you move just as long as they get you moved eventually. A friend of mine is in the process of selling her own house and is looking at doing this without a solicitor (?) I have no idea how this works or the ins and outs but if we were ever to move again it may be something we would consider.

    1. Oh wow, doing it without a solicitor would be tempting but I wonder if it could be even more stressful? I wonder if you’d end up having more or less phone calls with everyone else in the chain?!

  3. We are looking to buy our first house this time next year. I work in banking and am qualified in mortgage advice which could work for or against me. My main advice, solicitors won’t chase either party, even when original requests seemingly never materialise. I am a solicitors worst nightmare chasing that things have been progressed but it’s amazing how quickly they then begin to pre empt. Solicitors cash buyer means they don’t have a house to sell, different to everyone else’s version of cash buyer- ? xx

    1. Ahh Emma that’s so interesting to know re cash buyer – the estate agent told us they had money sat in the bank waiting for the sale, hence the confusion!
      Good advice on the chasing and best of luck for your upcoming search. x

    2. Second to the strategic nag!

      I was 9 months pregnant and on maternity leave so quite enjoyed my email rant at 8:59 every single day ( more likely to hit the top of the inbox in the morning!)

      I knew I had her beat when the ” hi Jo”s became ” Mrs L,”

      I would feel bad for her, but it became a total battle of wills as to whether she actually did anything ( we were buying a new build so had to exchange in 28 days… It took 47)

      Oh, and copy in a partner if there is one! I got a reply on a Sunday morning to that email… 🙂

  4. I can totally relate to this! When we bought our first house as first time buyers we were in 2 and a half months later with really no stress at all…but when it came to selling and buying at the same time, it was a completely different story! We decided to put our house up for sale the day we got back from honeymoon (I needed a new project since the wedding planning was over!) We found a buyer straight away and that very same day I fell in love with a house I’d seen online – I thought it was going to be nice and easy again! Just a week before we were due to exchange our buyer changed his mind and decided to pull out! We were gutted, and now faced with having to find a new buyer quickly otherwise risk the chain collapsing. We did luckily and several weeks later it was looking like we were getting ready to exchange again…only this time our buyers buyer pulled out! Just about everything that could go wrong did and it was almost a year after having our offer accepted that we finally got the keys! It was such a stressful time! Next time (if we can ever face it again!) I would really be tempted to sell and move into renting while house hunting!

    So glad it all worked out for you in the end Lauren and really can’t wait to see what you do with the place! x

    1. Oh no Kate, I can’t believe you experienced buyers pulling out twice. What an absolute nightmare.
      Your house is an absolute stunner though so hope it’s all a distant memory now. x

  5. From offer in March, completion in August. Just under six months (zero chain!).
    A catalogue of nightmares, which included boundary issues, structural surveys, planning breaches, last minute mortgage issues…..the list went on.
    What got us through was the absolute certainty that this was our perfect house in a very limited market.
    The other thing that got us through was our amazing, tenacious, relentless lawyer (who was on a fairly small agreed fixed fee).
    So my top tip – get yourself a kick-ass lawyer!

    1. Sarah, fab to hear you bagged yourself an awesome solicitor and you kept positive through the whole process!

      1. Also – the fixed fee was crucial as the time she spent over the 6 months must have been way over the £2,500 we paid!

  6. I would have to echo Sarah’s advice. Get a good lawyer!! I am actually a solicitor myself and unfortunately there are a wide variety of quality of conveyances out there. To some degree you get the quality of advice you pay for, and I would never recommend anyone purchasing a property to do so without legal advice – it is probably the most expensive thing you’ll ever buy so it’s important you know exactly what you’re getting! I always try and tell people that while the wait can be stressful, not least because it’s out of your control, it would be way worse to spend £100,000s in a hurry only to find out you didn’t actually own the property!!

  7. I wish they would teach 6th formers in school about mortgages and interest rates and conveyancing and all that jazz because we were completely clueless buying our first home. (Admittedly it was 10 years after leaving school so we would have probably forgotten it anyway). Luckily my parents helped us at every stage and told us what to do, and as always “thank god for google” but it would have been useful to know how stressful it was and how much waiting around there would be. We offered in April and completed in August which sounds pretty good, but it was horribly stressful…there was tears at my desk and a swift 3 o clock Gin when they almost pulled out etc. Buying a home was incredibly exciting but we were in no where prepared for all the stress. It didn’t help that we were buying in London – the first flat we offered on had 21 other others. Ridiculous. Alls well that ends well though. Until we move again….. xx

    1. 21 offers?! Wowsers!
      I consumed a lot of gin during the process Sian. That would probably be my advice – buy gin x

  8. I couldn’t agree more with this post – we also had a pretty smooth first time purchase and approached selling and buying quite optimistically. We had out mortgage sorted, a lot of interest in our old house, found the perfect place quite quickly and a solicitor highly recommended from friends, what could go wrong? In the end, it too nearly four months from our offer being accepted (and us accepting an offer on our place) until we moved in. Our solicitors were charming but ridiculously slow (I ended up calling them almost every day, and they actually more or less ignored out calls in the end), all communication was done via letter (seriously?? ), out buyer hadn’t informed their bank of the initial exchange date so their money wasn’t ready and our seller were a lovely elderly couple who just took their time with everything (including still moving out when our moving van arrived with our stuff mid-day.

    It was definitely worth it in the end but we are so not moving again until we’re old and grey and down-sizing!

    1. Oh Maike, how frustrating. Thankfully our solicitor had moved on from letter writing and carrier pigeon but parts of the process seem very antiquated.

  9. Not sure if I should admit this in this forum, but I’m a solicitor! I don’t deal with conveyancing but feel I should stick up for the conveyancers a little bit! I know some people imagine that solicitors might be sitting in an ivory tower counting all our money but it’s really not the case, and for the majority, we do actually want to do a good job for our clients!
    I definitely agree that chasing your conveyancer up and keeping the pressure on might mean that your file doesn’t go to the bottom of their pile, and I would say chase by phone – emails are easier to ignore!

    1. Definitely agree with calling – ours unfortunate never seemed to be available when we called… And didn’t call back either! If we move again, I would definitely go with solicitors who are local so I could just pop by their office!

  10. It took nearly five months for the completion of buying our house. It was incredibly frustrating as it was our first purchase and the house was empty. The hold up was on the part of the seller who just didn’t respond to the solicitor’s contact and requests. We were told to expect the process to be a maximum of twelve weeks but with the house being empty it should have been a shorter period.

    We had been renting and gave the Landlord plenty of notice that we were buying a house but could not give him a definite date for when we would move out. We kept putting him back and back, and in the end he said he needed an exact date from us so I just turned up at the solicitor’s office and told them to get their asses into gear and very dramatically declared we would be homeless in two weeks time unless we completed. It worked and I would have no qualms in throwing such a tantrum again.

    1. Lol Claire at the tantrum! I was definitely in the same boat! I threw a wobbly at both our solicitor and estate agent in a demand to get some answers and its amazing what the sight of an emotional woman on the verge of a breakdown does to a man haha.

    2. I wouldn’t call that a tantrum Claire. It seems like a very valid form of communication. Glad it all worked out okay.

      1. We had the exact same as the sellers solicitor was being slow- we had to tell the estate agent that if the house hadn’t completed within 2 weeks e would be pulling out as we’d have to enter a new rental agreement or be homeless. Funnily enough we exchanged 3 days later and were interested house 10 days later!

        1. The Mother-In-Law’s Buyers tried to pull the “We are going to be homeless” however it was their Solicitor who hadn’t done the paper work because they were waiting on the buyer to respond to them, which caused her to get very worked up and stressed out. Somehow they thought phoning her solicitors not theirs was the solution!

          She also had difficulty with a strange clause from the new house being on sold church land but still being having the potential of having to pay for church repairs! Her Solicitors sorted that out, so it can be the buyers not the Solicitors causing the problems.

  11. It took us over six months from offer to completion. Our offer was accepted on the basis we were first time buyers and had a mortgage approved so we could offer a quick sale. Within a week we had our paper work ready to go, only to find the vendors dragging their feet. Weeks of confusion and frustration later, we discovered the delay was due to the fact that one half of the house wasn’t actually owned by the vendor due to bankruptcy! It could take anything for one week to a year for this to be rectified with Land Registry – otherwise known as the slowest department in the world. Problem Number two then arose. The vendor couldn’t actually sign any papers to sell the house, because he was in fact ‘banged up abroad’. Several versions of a power of attorney later and a stroke of luck/ early release for our vendor finally got the process underway and we eventually completed in July last year. Hopefully our next move is easier, whenever that may be!

    1. Oh Aimee, I’m reading out your comment to James in disbelief. Banged up abroad? How does anyone think they can sell a house when they’re in prison?!

      1. We couldn’t believe it either! And a house that wasn’t technically his on paper! I felt sorry for the poor (now ex) wife who was stuck in the middle of it all. It kept our solicitors entertained at the very least they had many a theory on what he had actually done to end up in the clink lol 🙂

  12. When we decided to sell our 1st house we were fortunate to sell it to an ex colleague (1st time buyer, no chain) or at least that what we thought! Our offer in our current house was accepted in August 2012 and we finally exchanged/completed in February 2013!

    There was a whole host of issues, our buyers mortgage provider did the most excessive environmental search that we had to apply to the council for a letter confirming that our house was not being investigated as Part of the Part 2a Act (land contaminated by previous use- this ironically is the industry both my husband, me and our buyer work in!). The letter from the council had to be rewritten by my husband as it had been worded in a way which if taken out of context would suggest our back garden could’ve been contaminated (it wasn’t!).

    We had issues getting an additional mortgage as I was at the time working as an agency worker on a temporary contract. Our mortgage provider insured this was classed as self employed ;despite the fact the agency paid my salary via PAYE! Eventually we got the mortgage based purely on my husbands salary….

    I didn’t know but our seller almost pulled out as it was taking so long and wanted a quick sale. They did however try to drag their feet on the date of the move but our solicitor was great and made them stick to the date we had all agreed.
    In the midst of this we were technically homeless for 2 weeks living at my parents and also dealing with my mums dad dieing. In fact we moved out of our house the day after his funeral.
    So yeah in no hurry to move again too soon!!!

    1. Gosh Vicky, your experience sounds so traumatic. I can see why a move won’t be on the cards anytime soon x

      1. Fortunately my lovely husband kept the possibility of losing the house from me until we had moved in! We were also planning our wedding whilst all this was going on!
        The environmental side was quite ironic as I actually do the searches for clients now for redevelopments and occasionally mortgages.
        Fortunately I think we have our forever house or at least the next 15 years house:-)

  13. As a property lawyer (albeit commercial property) I feel compelled to defend solicitors. I’ve previously worked in private residential sales and things just aren’t always as straightforward as we’d all like them to be. Solicitors representing the buyer also represent the lenders (if there is one involved), and whilst the buyers often wish to push things through faster and hope that they’ll be able to cut corners, Solicitors are under obligation to dot all of the I’s and cross all of the T’s, so to speak, for both the buyer and the Lender and unfortunately this takes time, and often a very long time were there are title issues, boundary rectifications required, lack of planning permission, breaches of building control etc. The list of things that can go wrong on a property transaction are endless. However, forgetting to order the searches (which can themselves take months) twice is pure sloppiness which isn’t acceptable Lauren especially considering the fees that are charged.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. We had a 3 week delay at the last minute when our lawyer saw a multi-fuel burner in the inventory and insisted on getting all the paperwork on it. As a result we discovered it hadn’t been installed properly and was potentially dangerous. A small delay in the grand scheme of things is a million times better than the alternative!

    2. Hi Helen, thanks so much for your comment. Solicitors do end up getting a bad name don’t they? I have to say the first one we dealt with was excellent but I haven’t had a great experience since.
      It’s so complicated to buy in the UK isn’t it?

      1. Lol yes we do, particularly in the property world! I do think a lot of solicitors are guilty of failing to communicate to their clients what they are doing to progress things along and what is holding things up so clients feel like nothing is happening and become frustrated because they are left in the dark! Communication is key! And yes, the process is quite archaic, but I guess that’s because the ownership of the buildings and the land itself have to be traced and those processes and how ownership is recorded is so old. X

  14. We are in Scotland so yeah. Whole different ball game! Our first home together was also a new build so another different ball game. In made it easier in some senses because we just had to queue up and reserve and wait for it to be built. However that did mean we had to wait between February and October for it to be ours and in that time we were too scared about doing anything to effect finances that would jeperdise the deal. Our solicitor was great but did end up charging a little more than expected because he hadn’t realised how much extra work would be involved in our new build deal.
    But before we even got to him we dealt with one solicitor who was just a con man! Charging us for a meeting he insisted on having amongst other things. We ended up being £700 out of pocket and we hadn’t even look over at or reserved our new home! Needless to say we walked away from his services!

    1. New builds seem to be very tricky Stef. The whole extended completion thing has left a few of my friends having to live back with their parents for long periods of time.

  15. We came back from travelling and decided to sell our one bed flat and move on to a larger house. My husband didn’t want to be in a chain and luckily we had a place we could stay so was not in a rush to find our next property.
    The flat sale, to a couple who wanted to rent it, so chain free took 6 months!! This was mainly due to chasing paperwork from external parties. We eventually completed and exchanged in November 2014.
    In the meantime we were looking for a house and found one in February 2015 we loved. We put an offer in and exchanged in September! The chain kept on increasing, up to six properties at one point. The estate agents kept on feeding us dates we were to complete which looking back were wildly off the mark. The people we were buying from nearly pulled out in August due to move confusion from the estate agents that we were pulling out. We eventually moved into our home in early November when I was 8 months pregnant (we painted the whole house before we moved in).
    Looking back we made the right decision to hold on and presevere with the house but it was very stressful. We joke now that I wasn’t even pregnant when we put the offer in. Oh and my husband and I ended up staying with my parents for about 7 months while we waited for the house. We had stuff in storage for over two years in the end, so it was exciting to finally get everything out and remember what we had!

  16. Your comment about your ‘cash buyers’ made me laugh – our sale / purchase was all running smoothly until our supposed ‘chain free’ sellers informed us fairly late in the process that they would be tying in their new property purchase in France, which could potentially put us back months. I’m not going to lie – I pulled the ‘But I’m PREGNANT!!’ card with the estate agent, who then pushed back on this. All things considered, it went pretty smoothly thanks to our awesome solicitor, and was about 3 months from offer to completion.

  17. Ahhh I feel your pain – our house move took 3 months in the end to get to completion which in hindsight isn’t that long, but felt like an eternity at the time. Doing it over Christmas was the main issue I think! My friend gave us a piece of advice in terms of spurring people on to speed up the process – send round a weekly update email to all parties involved (your estate agents, the estate agents of the property you’re purchasing, your solicitors, their solicitors etc) to say where everyone is with things. This tends to encourage them to do things so that they don’t look bad on your next weekly update!!!

  18. We bought our first house almost two years ago and offer to completion took just over 4 months. Not too bad considering some peoples stories but we had no chain and were told the seller wanted a quick sale so we naively thought it would all go quite smoothly. The problem we had was our seller lived on the other side of the country and was selling a rental he no longer wanted. He used a national solicitors firm who proceeded to lose paperwork, provide incorrect answers to questions and generally take their time to do anything. I must say our solicitor was a hero in chasing them every day! We finally received a call to say we could exchange the contracts the following day, only for that to be followed 5 minutes later with a call to say they’d just found out our seller was in Thailand and wouldn’t be back for weeks! So exchanging was delayed whilst they tried to get hold of him over there. We finally exchanged and the seller then asked for extra time before completion to be able to clear the house, which we agreed to. We completed, got the keys, turned up at the house only to find it full of furniture, the doors unlocked and wide open and the seller no where to be seen! They hadn’t used any of the extra time we’d given them and were hurriedly trying to move their furniture out. Unfortunately they couldn’t move the rusty old car they’d kept in the garage so we had to put up with that for another week before they could arrange for that to be moved. I think we’ll be looking to sell and move on sometime next year but I’m not sure I can face it!

    1. Blimey Heather, so may ups and downs to your experience and what a shame they hadn’t put the extra time you’d given them to good use.
      A friend of mine moved into the home of an elderly gentleman who hadn’t booked a removal company as I think he thought they magically appeared on the day. She had to patiently pack all his stuff for him before she could move her things in!

  19. I knew as soon as I started reading that this would be a popular post! I’m reading some of these experiences open mouthed.

    Our most recent move took seven months start to finish. Partly the usual chain nonsense (sellers move falling through etc) but partly down to our buyers solicitor unearthing some crazy document from the 1800’s regarding our old house being in an unadopted road – it looked for a while as though the houses should never have been built on the land in the first place, then there was something about paying hundreds of pounds a year to a non-existent landowner (despite the house being freehold). Thankfully we were able to take out an indemnity and assure the buyer that it was all totally fine.

    We ended up moving out of home to make sure we didn’t lose our buyer. Everything went into storage and we moved in with the in-laws for three months. We were spoilt rotten (including the cat) but living in your husbands old teenage bedroom isn’t ideal.

    Saying all that, it really was all worth it in the end! x

  20. Just to share our most recent experience as now I can laugh about it (note the har of ‘now’ 3 years after we moved…)

    We used a solicitor based 3 doors down from our house. Won’t that be handy we thought… Nope. They posted (2nd class) every document including the contract which needed to be returned imminently. When we called in to ask for another one we were told it was in the post and to wait for it to arrive. ? Was not laughing at the time mind!

    We vowed never to move again after that… No doubt the house will be on the market again in a few years when we’ve forgotten all about it!!

    1. I just gasped at the 2nd class post bit. How utterly ridiculous! I’m pleased you can look back and laugh now x

  21. I don’t think I know a single person who has a smooth and straightforward moving story. Although my Finnish relatives have told me it’s common to be able to buy a home there within a couple of weeks, crazy huh?!

    1. Crazy and scary Alyssa! In Australia I think it’s something like 28 days. Two weeks just wouldn’t be possible in the UK! x

  22. Another one to defend the legal profession! Unfortunately it is not always that straightforward – if anyone says you can exchange and move in 4-5 weeks, I would take it with a large pinch of salt. 12 weeks is far more realistic. There are too many variables and as someone else said, a conveyancer also has to represent the interests of your mortgage provider. This is the biggest purchase you will ever make. I wouldn’t want to find potentially very expensive problems years down the line. Also, I worked as a conveyancing solicitor a few years back, and the fees we were paid were negligible compared to say, estate agents fees. You do get what you pay for.

    1. Thanks Vicky, yes twelve weeks seems realistic. My local council take a minimum of three weeks to do the searches and it took us about ten days to see our mortgage advisor after we got our decision in principle. There are so many different elements involved and everyones experience here shows how complex the process can be.

  23. With our first house purchase we had a very stressful time. The couple we were buying it from didn’t use an estate agent and then used the slowest solicitors in the world, we had our offer accepted in Feb but didn’t complete until Sept. There were so many hold ups, mainly because of the ineptitude of both the vendors and the solicitors, in the end the house dropped in value by almost £10,000 so our mortgage company refused to lend us the amount we had offered originally. We thought we were going to lose the house (7 months in), luckily the vendors had no choice but to sell, so we got a bargain.
    With our second purchase we bought a new build off plan. We sold our house relatively quickly but then had to wait 8 months to complete, we were lucky that the lady who bought our house was prepared to wait that long (she even moved in with her sister in Germany, so the chain didn’t fall apart). It was still incredibly stressful though, we had the usual hassle of solicitors battling backwards and forwards and taking seemingly forever to get documents to us, but it all worked out in the end.

  24. A very popular post….. so we’ve bought 3….. All chain free, first one our mortgage company screwed things up but the delay helped us out. Offer in march keys 1st July. The vendor tried to pull out several times.
    Next we bought our holiday home in Scotland – but that was 4-5 weeks from offer to keys…. due to us being PROPER cash buyers : ) ( its lush spot)
    And most recently we bought a 2 bed investment flat – offer mid July and keys end of November no chain both times but the vendor was a freaking nightmare. Not instructing their solicitors till September!
    Next up…. We’re selling our home in february wish us luck

  25. We’re planning on putting our beloved flat on the market in March in search of a bigger house and these comments are confirming the fears I have been thinking but silencing for the last few months! Being first time buyers we had such a hassle free experience when we bought nearly seven years ago – eight weeks from offer to completion. I’m prepared for it to not go smoothly though…and we’re going on a two week holiday just before so we can have lots of fun in the sun before we start the process. I know it’s not really the done thing to talk £££ but is there an avarage amount it costs to sell and buy somewhere? In terms of solicitors etc?

  26. Joining the party late but also felt I should say my piece…. I too am a solicitor working in commercial property so agree with all the comments defending solicitors! My main advice would be make sure you use the agent well as they can do a lot of the chasing of solicitors, mortgage companies etc, and are usually getting a much bigger fee than the solicitors. Their job is to get a sale and see it through so make sure they are on top of every part of it. Glad it worked out in the end for most of you! X

  27. Could it get any worse.

    We put our house on the market on the 6th Jan 16, sold a week later. It is now the first week of Jun and we still do not have a date for completion. Our solicitor seems to be so out of her depth, she does not know how to deal with a council owned ransom strip, also she knew nothing about radon gas retentions. We had to google the information and pass it onto her. Our purchaser’s mortgage application is about to run out and our solicitor doesn’t seem to care one bit and seems happy to just let thing s drag out.

    We are about to give up and rent our house as I don’t see the point in continuing with this mess.

  28. We have been trying to sell our family home for over 18 months.
    We accepted an offer, that fell through. We accepted another, after a particularly harsh Homebuyer’s Report that fell through – our estate agent and solicitor refused point blank to negotiate with the buyers and simply accepted the sale had fallen through leaving us with the cost of paying fees incurred. We finally got another offer at the end of March (with a different estate agent!) and we are now 11 weeks down the line and have been given at least 3 separate dates for completion. We are constantly given conflicting information; ‘yes the buyers have the finances in place’ and then we get ‘no the searches haven’t been submitted yet and their mortgage has not been confirmed’. The final straw was being told last week that the buyer’s buyer is still at the enquiries stage of their purchase. It is all incredibly frustrating. Even though we are moving to rented accommodation for a while I’m not sure if our buyers expect us to be able to magic up a tenancy with only 24 hours notice. There needs to be a more transparent process for buying and selling houses. Many houses have been sold in our village in the last few months and only the small minority go through with minimum fuss. I don’t have an answer as I don’t fully understand the conveyance laws in England, all I do know is that it is all way too stressful with buyers and sellers seemingly having little control.

  29. You just dont know when your going to be tripped up.
    We are selling and had an offer 8 weeks ago and the buyers solicitor kept asking questions, one was a HETAS certificate on a solid fuel stove we had fitted in 2011, it is the last hurdle.
    I contacted the heating engineer who fitted it and found out he is not registered with HETAS even though he is GAS safe and OIL boiler registered.
    My solicitor suggested a indemnity insurance but the buyers solicitor is just not getting back.
    I spoke to several installers who wont certify other peoples work and have been advised by them to contact building control, I dont want to do that in case it slows down the exchange so am hoping that the buyers solicitor will accept the insurance.
    Trouble is I dont know if the buyers solicitor even passes info on to the buyer as ive just found out (by chance) that the house were buying is in a similar boat and I would not have known unless the solicitors clerk hadnt have accidentally mentioned it.
    Were moving in with relatives as soon as we exchange so not too worried about the purchase.
    It just all seems to be dragging on and no dates yet, thought we would be there at 8 weeks!

  30. This is so re assuring to be reading all of these comments . We are on week 13 of selling our house and re locating to a different part of the country to a new build house . And this has been the most stressful experience of my life , even worse than getting divorced and married again !!! We accepted an offer on our 2 Bedroom Victorian cottage after being on Market for just 1 week from first time buyers thinking we had no chain it would go through so easy , how wrong could we be . The lack of communication from our buyers has been our problem and at week 10 we contacted them via our Solicitor as we were ready to Exchange and our new home was ready , only to be told they had some queries with the structural survey that was carried out 3 weeks ago . I was so annoyed they had kept quiet as it made us think all was okay with the survey .
    We have since carried out small repairs to roof , and toilet and extractor fan which they have today sent their surveyor back to inspect, wouldn`t mind but the cost of the work was only £360.00 so such a small detail however we were happy to get these sorted for them .
    We have now been told they will be signing contracts in a weeks time which takes us to week 14 , fingers crossed no last minute hiccups happen .
    We then need to hand our notice in at work so in all the process has taken 18 weeks nearly 5 months since we originally accepted their offer .
    This is not an experience i would like to repeat again in the future.

  31. I can sympathise with everyone and their experiences as we are once again going through the dreaded UK house sale process. (Apologies, this tale may end up a bit War & Peace!)

    Luckily, we thought (ha!), we are only selling and our buyer’s buyer doesn’t have a house to sell so you’d think it would be nice and straightforward. Oh how optimistic could we be… We accepted the offer at the beginning of November and everything was going through OK up to Christmas. It was agreed we weren’t likely to exchange before Christmas with early New Year being more feasible. Our buyer and their buyer then decided on a completion date they wanted, which we then agreed to – provided we had exchange two weeks prior. (We are moving overseas so need some notice to tie things up this end).

    The day before agreed exchange we learn our buyer’s solicitor is insisting on having some piece of paper (to do with our house builder’s contract with the council from 25 years ago). Despite our solicitor telling him it was not a necessary requirement he will not budge. A fee has to be paid to the council for this search and after much chasing, one week later he still hasn’t paid the fee. In the end WE paid the fee just to get things moving. We are then told it will take two weeks to process and there are two requests in the queue ahead of us. Fortunately our solicitor is very on the ball and knows someone in the planning department who gets the info through within 24 hours. As we knew, this matter was nothing to worry about after such a long period of time so great, we’re ready to go we think.

    Hmmm… all then goes very quiet and after chasing (yet again) two days before the original completion date we discover our buyer’s buyer hasn’t got their mortgage confirmed. They have it in principal but some financial jiggery pokery means they’re trying to sort out the deposit separate from this. Throughout this sorry process we have been kept in the dark, ignored (our buyer’s solicitor wouldn’t speak to our solicitor at one point) and now we are starting to feel something’s going on that we’re not being told about. Two weeks later we still do not know if this mortgage has been approved or not and no-one is keeping us informed on what is happening. Tomorrow we are giving our buyer until the end of the week to exchange or we are putting the house back on the market.

    We found ourselves a day from exchange (having had to do some forward planning with an overseas move) having sold my car, got rid of a lot of furniture (incl. washing machine…) and having to commit to a rental agreement for my husband who will be working here. We have been more than patient in the process but there comes a point when enough is enough and you have to draw a line in the sand.

    In comparison we have bought two houses overseas that were a dream to do. You agree the price, sign an initial agreement (at which point your finances must be ready) and pay the deposit. You then wait for the notaire to do the searches after which you pay the balance and sign the final contract in front of him, and are handed the keys. Unless something untoward is found in the legal process/searches, the deposit and initial signing is final and if either side back out they lose the deposit (in the case of the buyer) and in the case of the seller, have to return the deposit and pay an additional equivalent sum. In our case this took just over two months from start to finish and was a stress-free process.

    It’s about time the UK house buying process was overhauled such that a commitment is made earlier in the process to avoid the expense involved to then find the buyer or seller pulls out at the last minute, sometimes on the whim of someone just changing their mind.

    NB. As a side comment, throughout this process we have also been hampered by a buyer who used an online estate agent (naming no names but they are a colourful outfit) that has done very little to chase things along and a buyer’s buyer who’s used an online conveyancing company who were much the same. Throughout it has been our estate agent and solicitor who have chased things up and done much of the work of the other two. As our solicitor said, “you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”. We will see what tomorrow brings.

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