Home → Finance →

Average Time to Sell a House in the UK

Written by, Marija Petkova

Updated September, 16, 2022

Selling a house is a lengthy and complicated process that can take four months or longer to complete.

In fact, it is very hard to predict an accurate time frame when you are selling a property, as the average time to sell a house in the UK depends on a variety of factors.

What are the variables involved, and by how much can they prolong the sale? When is the best time to put the property on the market? And is there any way to speed up the process? 

Read on to find out. 

How Long Does It Take To Sell a House?

As mentioned above, there is no clear-cut answer to this question as the sale of a property can depend on the number of people on the property chain, the location, the price and the type of property being sold.

That said, surveys and real estate experts say the average time to sell a house in the UK is 129 days from the day the property was listed to completion. This translates to about 4.2 months or 18 weeks. 

In reality, though, the sale of a house can take 15 to 25 weeks or even 6 months. 

Here is an overview of how long each stage of the house selling process takes:

ProcessAverage time 
Finding an estate agent A few days to 2 weeks
Putting the property on the market to an offer being accepted 4-14 weeks
From acceptance of an offer to the exchange of contracts (includes searches, property surveys and reviewing of contracts)9-12 weeks
From exchange of contracts to completion Same day to 4 weeks

Keep in mind that this is just a rough estimate and depends on whether you are selling during a buyer’s or seller’s market. For instance, the timeline between putting the house on the market and accepting an offer can take 101 days in cold market conditions when buyer demand is lower. 

On the other hand, in hot market conditions, i.e. when the proportion of homes sold or under offer is high, the sale of a home can be completed in as little as 3 and a half months, or 114 days. 

Can you exchange contracts and complete the sale on the same day?

You can, but it is quite risky. Sellers and buyers tend to vacate their homes on completion date and if something is delayed (a piece of paperwork is missing or the mortgage provider has failed to make a payment), the buyer could be stuck without a home until the situation is resolved. 

Since this is the shortest stage of the entire process, there is no need to rush. Few properties (only 10% and 28% in cold and hot markets, respectively) take longer than two weeks to get from the stage of exchanging contracts to completion.

What Factors Might Delay a House Sale?

Here is a closer look at some of the variables that could impact the average time for a house sale to go through.

  1. The price 

The asking price is one of the biggest factors that affect the house selling timeline. The truth is you can’t overprice a property and expect it to sell quickly. 

Keep in mind that it takes around 10 viewings to sell a home, so if you are getting a lot of viewings but not enough offers, it might be time to revise the asking price and adjust it to the competition. 

  1. Buyer’s vs seller’s market

Who has the upper hand in the real estate market plays a huge role in how long it takes to sell a property in the UK. 

In a hot market, there are plenty of buyers, so homes are sold quickly and at higher prices. In cold market conditions, there is less interest giving buyers more room to negotiate. This, in turn, results in sellers lowering prices to avoid having their property sit on the market for too long. 

  1. How good your conveyancer is

A conveyancer’s job is to ensure that the transfer of property goes off as smoothly and as quickly as possible, from start to finish. That’s why it is crucial to choose a trustworthy and reliable solicitor who will be able to get the job done on time. Don’t go for the cheapest quote you find, but take the time to compare offers and choose the best one for your needs. 

  1. Mortgage applications 

Taking out a home loan is the most common way to purchase a property—almost 30% of homeowners in the UK have a mortgage. Some applications can be straightforward, but others could be complicated, prolonging the average time to sell a house. 

  1. Searches and property surveys

Searches used to ensure that everything checks out with the property take about two weeks to complete and are standard procedures in the conveyancing process. The buyer’s conveyancer must raise any queries if issues arise during this stage. The faster your solicitor responds to them, the less time it will take for the house sale to go through. 

  1. Location

Where the property is located is another important factor. Houses in nice neighbourhoods that are close to schools have a lot of green spaces, and low crime rates unsurprisingly sell faster than others. 

  1. The length of the property chain 

A property chain is a line of all the people involved in the buying and selling of a house. They are linked together since their transactions depend on one another. The chain usually begins with a first-time buyer and ends with the person who is only selling but not buying a house. 

Property chains exist because most people need to sell a property before they can buy a new one, which can cause major delays. 

How long does it take to sell a house with no chain?

Chain-free purchases occur when a buyer purchases the home without having to sell their property first, while the seller is not relying on the sale of the property to purchase another one. 
The average time to complete a house sale with no chain ranges from 4 to 6 weeks. 

As expected, delays are very common when there is more than one person involved in the chain, which is why selling a property with no chain is a lot faster. 
  1. Leasehold vs freehold

Leasehold properties take longer to sell. One reason is that there is more legal work required in selling a leasehold. Another is that most leasehold deals fall through, especially on homes with a lease that is about to expire

Other factors that play a role in how long a house is sold include the size and state of the property, the condition of neighbouring houses, the number of similar homes in the area as well as the season, which bring us to the next point.

What Is the Best Month to Sell a House?

In general, spring is the best time to sell a house, with March being the best month to put a property on the market. 

According to The Advisory, the average house sale time in March takes about 57 days. Other spring months also boast short time frames—the average sale time for a house is 58 days in April and 60 in May. 

It’s easy to see why spring might be the best time of year for house sellers—gardens are in bloom, so properties are at their best, and the market is full of buyers (recovered from the festive season but not yet ready for summer holidays), and the weather is perfect for house hunting. 

What’s the Worst Time of Year to Sell a House?

Even though August and December are traditionally considered the worst months to sell property in the UK (mostly due to summer and Christmas holidays), surveys find that the worst time for house vendors is between mid-October and November (from 14 October to 14 November). 

The average time for a house sale in this period is 79 days—the longest out of the entire year. 

One possible explanation is that no one wants to move during the holidays or have the sale prolonged into the new year. Increased expenses around Christmas, rainy weather, and the need to end the year with at least some savings are other factors that lead to buyers losing interest as autumn moves into winter.

How Quickly Are Houses Selling in the UK?

The average time it takes to sell a house in 2022 after being listed is two to three months.

That said, this is just the average as there is a lot of variation from one region to the next and even from one city to another. 

For instance, houses in Edinburgh are sold the fastest—the average house sale time in the Scottish capital is 45 days. 

These are the cities with the shortest average house sale times

City Average time to sell house
Edinburgh45 days
Glasgow47 days
Dundee72 days
Coventry74 days 
Stoke-on-Trent77 days 

Houses in Oxford, on the other hand, take the longest to sell, with properties staying on the market for an average of 152 days.  

Properties in London are not sold quickly either—the average time for a house sale to go through in the capital is 138 days. This is most likely because homes in London are priced at nearly £240,000, much higher than the average UK price.  

How much do you need to make to live in London? Find out the answer here

A lot depends on the condition of the market as well. According to research from The Advisory, there is a huge difference in how long it takes to sell in hot and cold market conditions.

Average time to sell a house in the UKHot market Cold market
Sell a home (from listing to completion) 4.2 months 3.7 months5.8 months
Accept an offer 1.6 months1.1 months3.3 months 
Accept an offer to exchange of contracts2.1 months2.2 months2 months
Exchange to completion 2 weeks 2 weeks2 weeks

Market heat, though, only affects the period between putting the house on the market and accepting an offer. Actually, 60% of houses are sold in two months (the shortest time frame) after an offer was accepted in cold markets, while the same is true for only 22% of properties in hot markets. There are fewer transactions taking place in cold markets, meaning that conveyancers and estate agents are less busy, and the process moves much faster. 

Selling a home can also be quite costly, as well. Here is how much you can expect to pay in conveyancing fees. 

How Can You Sell a House Faster in the UK?

Sellers have control over a few determining factors that can speed up the entire house selling process. Here they are. 

  1. Get the asking price right

As mentioned above, the biggest reason for delays in property sales is the asking price. Overpriced homes have fewer interested buyers and also limit your exposure—most buyers tend to filter houses according to the price, which means your property won’t show up in those searches causing you to lose out on potential offers from the start. 

The best way to price your property right is to look at how neighbouring and similar homes are valued. Also, look at properties in your area that have been on the market for a long time to get a sense of which homes might be overpriced. 

  1. Choose a good conveyancer and get started as soon as possible 

Having an open line of communication is also a must since it enables everyone involved in the process to address issues quickly and effectively. 

  1. Find a good estate agent

The estate agent will value your home and advertise it. Therefore, you should look for reputable agents who have a widespread online presence, as this will ensure your listing is seen. 

  1. Have all the paperwork ready

Sellers are legally obligated to provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the property and disclose all issues, including structural problems and disputes with neighbours. Having all these documents ready when you put the home on the market can speed up the average time to sell house.

  1. Make sure your home is appealing to buyers

A house that is clean and spacious will make a much better first impression and sell quicker as opposed to an untidy and cluttered home. If you are selling an older property, make sure it is up to code and is well maintained—a fresh coat of paint and some gardening can work wonders.

  1. Market it right

Although the estate agent will put up photos and market the listing, it is still your job to ensure that you are happy with them. Make sure you highlight local amenities or any unique features that might attract more buyers. If you don’t feel that the listing shows your home in the best light possible, talk to your estate agent right away. 

  1. Favour cash buyers

Cash buyers are a better option than ones purchasing a home with a mortgage as this can additionally extend the average time to buy and sell a house. As a matter of fact, when there is cash involved and no chain, the sale of a house can be completed in 8 or even 4 weeks with a proactive seller and responsive professionals. 

Bottom Line: How Quickly Can a House Sale Go Through in the UK?

The fastest a house sale can go through is two weeks, but these are special circumstances that involve genuine cash house-buying companies. The average time to sell a house UK is around 18 weeks, provided there are no serious delays.

The most important thing for sellers is to find qualified professionals to work with, price the house right, and manage their expectations. Knowing that the sale will not be completed in a month or two beforehand can help you avoid a lot of stress and concerns. 

                           

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

Is it a good time to sell a house in 2022?

Yes. The market, fueled by the low supply and high demand, as well as affected by low mortgage rates and the extension of the stamp duty holiday, has been thriving. In fact, house prices declined slightly in July 2022, following 13 months of house price increases. 

Nevertheless, the increase in the cost of living has been showing latelymortgage approvals have taken a dip and the momentum of the housing market is slowing down. While house prices are not expected to crash by the end of 2022, they are likely to fall. 

How many viewings does it take to sell a house?

It takes an average of 10 viewings to get an offer on a home. In fact, only 20% of sales are closed with less than 5 viewings in both hot and cold market conditions. Too many viewings and no offers, however, means that you should adjust the asking price. 

How long does it take to sell a house from offer to completion in the UK?

The average time to sell a house in the UK can range from 4 to 6 months, depending on market conditions, location, your estate agent and conveyancer.

My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.