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?