Understanding the Timeline: How Long Does Moving House Take?

Moving house is often cited as one of life’s most stressful experiences. The uncertainty of how long the entire process will take only adds to this stress. From the moment you decide to move to the day you finally settle into your new home, the journey is filled with questions and anxieties. How long will it take to get a mortgage approved? What if there are delays in the conveyancing process?

Imagine being stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of phone calls with estate agents, waiting anxiously for mortgage approval, and dealing with the complexities of property chains. The lack of a clear timeline can disrupt your daily life, causing frustration and anxiety.

But what if you could have a roadmap that demystifies the entire moving process? By understanding the average timeframes and being prepared for common delays, you can plan more effectively and navigate the journey with confidence. Let’s embark on this journey together, turning the daunting task of moving house into a well-organized and manageable process.

how long does moving house take

Average Time to Move House

When embarking on the journey of moving house, one of the most pressing questions is: how long will it take? The average time to move house typically ranges from 12 to 22 weeks. However, this timeframe can vary significantly based on several factors, including the complexity of the house-buying process and the efficiency of the professionals involved.

The Role of Professionals

A key player in this process is the conveyancing solicitor. Their role is crucial in handling the legal aspects of buying and selling property. The speed and efficiency of the conveyancing process can greatly influence the overall timeline. Delays can occur due to a variety of reasons, such as issues with property titles or slow responses from local authorities.

Another important professional is the mortgage broker. They assist in navigating the complexities of securing a mortgage, which is a fundamental part of the house-buying process for most people. The time taken to get a mortgage approved can vary, but with a skilled mortgage broker, this process can be expedited, ensuring you receive your mortgage offer in a timely manner.

Market Conditions and Buyer Competition

Market conditions also play a significant role. In a seller’s market, where there are multiple buyers vying for the same property, the process can move faster due to increased competition and urgency. Conversely, in a buyer’s market, the process might take longer due to a larger inventory of properties and fewer buyers.

Common Delays and How to Overcome Them

The process of moving house can encounter various delays, some predictable and others unexpected. Understanding these common hurdles and knowing how to navigate them can significantly reduce stress and keep your move on track.

Delays in the Conveyancing Process

  • Issue: Delays often occur during conveyancing due to incomplete documentation, slow responses from local authorities, or issues identified in land registry searches.
  • Solution: Choose an experienced conveyancing solicitor who communicates effectively. Stay proactive in providing all necessary documents promptly and follow up regularly.

Mortgage Approval Delays

  • Issue: Delays in mortgage approval can arise from incomplete applications or the lender’s thorough review process.
  • Solution: Work closely with your mortgage broker to ensure your application is complete and accurate. Keep all your financial documents organized and readily available.

Property Chain Complications

  • Issue: Being part of a long property chain can lead to delays, especially if one party in the chain encounters issues.
  • Solution: Maintain open communication with your estate agent and solicitor to stay updated on the chain’s progress. Consider options like chain break finance in complex situations.

Unexpected Survey Findings

  • Issue: Property surveys can reveal issues that need addressing, potentially delaying the process.
  • Solution: Act quickly to get quotes for any necessary repairs and negotiate these with the seller. Alternatively, consider whether you can accept the property as-is.

Furniture Storage

  • Issue: Coordinating the move of your belongings, especially if there’s a gap between leaving your old home and moving into the new one, can be challenging. On this website, you can find an effective solution. In general, online search is a great first step to resolving most of the problems.
  • Solution: Plan ahead for furniture storage if needed. Research and book a reliable self storage service in advance to ensure your belongings are safely stored during the transition.

Stages of the Moving Process

moving house

Moving house, be it your parents’ or your own, involves several key stages, each with its own typical duration. Understanding these stages helps in planning and managing expectations throughout the process.

  1. Preparation and Decision to Move (1-4 weeks): This initial stage involves deciding to move and preparing for the process. It includes researching areas, setting a budget, and considering your needs in a new home.
  2. Mortgage Pre-Approval (1-3 weeks): Before actively searching for a new home, obtaining a mortgage pre-approval is advisable. This gives you a clear idea of your budget and makes you a more attractive buyer.
  3. Searching for a New Home (4-12 weeks): The duration of this stage varies greatly depending on market conditions and your specific requirements. It involves viewing properties and selecting the right home.
  4. Making an Offer and Acceptance (1-2 weeks): Once you find a suitable property, you make an offer to the seller’s estate agent. Negotiations and acceptance of the offer are typically completed within a week or two.
  5. Conveyancing Process (8-12 weeks): This legal process involves transferring property ownership. It’s one of the lengthier stages, requiring thorough checks and documentation.
  6. Property Survey (1-3 weeks): Conducting a property survey to assess the condition of the property is crucial. This can identify any potential issues that might need addressing.
  7. Final Mortgage Application and Approval (3-6 weeks): After your offer is accepted, you’ll complete your mortgage application. The time frame for approval can vary based on the lender and any complications that arise.
  8. Exchange of Contracts (1-2 weeks): This legally binding step involves both parties agreeing to the terms and conditions of the sale, depending on buyer demand.
  9. Completion and Moving In (1-4 weeks): The final stage is the completion of the sale and moving into your new home. This includes the physical move and settling into your new property.

Mortgage Approval Process

The mortgage approval process is a critical component of buying a new home. It typically involves the following steps:

  1. Initial Consultation (1-2 days): Meeting with a mortgage broker or lender to discuss your financial situation and borrowing needs.
  2. Documentation and Application (1-2 weeks): Gather necessary documents such as proof of income, bank statements, and identification. Your mortgage broker will then help you submit a mortgage application.
  3. Processing and Underwriting (2-4 weeks): The lender reviews your application, conducts credit checks, and assesses the property’s value.
  4. Approval and Mortgage Offer (1-2 weeks): Once approved, the lender issues a mortgage offer, which details the terms of your loan.

Role of Mortgage Brokers

Mortgage brokers play a pivotal role in this process. They offer expertise in finding the best mortgage products suited to your financial situation. They can navigate through various lenders, negotiate terms, and handle much of the paperwork, thereby streamlining the process and potentially reducing the time to get your mortgage approved.

Selling and Buying a Home

The process of selling your current home and buying a new one involves several key steps, depending on the local authority:

  1. Listing and Marketing Your Home (1-4 weeks): Preparing your home for sale, setting a price, and listing it on the market.
  2. Viewings and Receiving Offers (3-8 weeks): Potential buyers view your property, and you start receiving offers.
  3. Accepting an Offer (1-2 weeks): Once you accept an offer, the conveyancing process for selling your home begins.
  4. Searching and Making an Offer on a New Home (4-12 weeks): Simultaneously, you’ll be searching for a new home, making an offer, and going through the buying process.
  5. Conveyancing for Both Properties (8-12 weeks): Handling the legal aspects of both selling and buying, which includes dealing with contracts, conducting searches, and liaising with all parties involved.
  6. Completion and Moving (1-4 weeks): Finalizing the sale of your current home and the purchase of your new home, followed by the physical move.

In both selling and buying, working with experienced estate agents and conveyancing solicitors can significantly impact the efficiency and success of the process. The journey of selling your current home and buying a new one is intricate, often influenced by various factors including the efficiency of good estate agents progressing the sale, the responsiveness of mortgage lenders, and the dynamics of the property chain.

The Conveyancing Process

The conveyancing process is a critical component in both selling and buying a home, involving the legal transfer of property ownership. This process can be complex, especially when dealing with a lengthy property chain.

  1. Instruction of a Conveyancer: Once an offer is accepted, both parties instruct conveyancers to begin the process. Good communication between conveyancers can expedite this stage.
  2. Legal Work and Searches: Conveyancers conduct various legal checks and local authority searches, including land registry checks, to ensure there are no legal impediments to the sale or purchase.
  3. Drafting and Reviewing Contracts: The conveyancer drafts a contract detailing the sale terms. This is then reviewed and negotiated between the parties.
  4. Addressing Mortgage Requirements: If a mortgage is involved, conveyancers work with the mortgage lender to ensure all their requirements are met. This includes ensuring the property is a suitable security for the loan.
  5. Exchange of Contracts: Once all parties are satisfied, contracts are exchanged, making the agreement legally binding. At this stage, a completion date is set.
  6. Completion: On the completion day, funds are transferred, and ownership of the property is officially changed. This marks the end of the conveyancing process.

The efficiency of the conveyancing process is often contingent on the complexity of the property chain and the proficiency of the conveyancing solicitors. Delays can occur due to various reasons, including slow responses from local authorities or issues identified in the land registry searches.

Practical Advice for Different Types of Buyers

  • Seek Professional Advice: Utilize the expertise of mortgage brokers and conveyancers to navigate the process smoothly.
  • Manage the Selling Process: Balance the timing of selling your current home with buying the new one. Consider temporary housing or storage solutions if there’s a gap between moves.
  • Prepare for a Property Chain: Be prepared for the complexities of being in a property chain. Keep in constant communication with your agent and solicitor.
  • Stay Informed: Regular updates from your estate agent and solicitor can help you understand where you stand in the chain.
  • Have a Contingency Plan: Be prepared for delays. Consider temporary accommodation or storage solutions if the move-in date is postponed.


Navigating the complexities of moving house requires patience, preparation, and the right support. Understanding the typical timeline and potential delays, and engaging with skilled professionals like conveyancing solicitors and mortgage brokers, can significantly streamline this process.

In essence, while moving house is a journey with its unique challenges, it’s also an opportunity for a fresh start. With careful planning and a proactive approach, you can make this transition smoother and look forward to creating new memories in your new home.