Buying a property can feel like a marathon. If you’re hoping to move in quickly it can seem as though everything moves incredibly slowly, from waiting for a mortgage to be approved to hearing back from solicitors. However, being prepared and knowing what can slow down a potential sale may help you keep everything moving along smoothly.

There is no guaranteed time to complete the process of buying a house. According to research, the average aspiring homebuyer will need six months and 24 days to purchase a property. This figure starts with viewing the house online, right through to that moment when you get the keys. By far the lengthiest process is exchanging contracts, which took an average of five months and 10 days after an offer was made.

There are many reasons why a house purchase may be slowed down, including these seven:

1. The seller’s circumstances

With the house buying process taking months, circumstances can change significantly. Your seller may change their mind about selling the property or decide to delay for a range of reasons. If this does happen, it can be bitterly disappointing. But more than that you might be left out of pocket too. If you’ve already spent money on conveyancing and local searches, you’re unlikely to be able to get this back.

2. Conveyancing delays

This is often a frustration among homebuyers. You’ve found the house you want to purchase but it seems as though your solicitor is impossible to get hold of or moving far slower than you’d like. There can be a lot of back and forth between your solicitor and that of the seller’s that goes on behind the scenes. But if you’re not being kept informed, it can seem as though nothing is happening at all. Take care when choosing your solicitor and do a little research. Asking family and friends for recommendations is a good option. Alternatively, a quick search online should bring up reviews.

3. Local searches

The local searches make up part of the conveyancing process but will involve your local authority. These searches aim to reveal potential issues that could affect the property in the future. This could include planning permission or environmental restrictions. How long these take will depend on your local council and activity in the market. Typically, you can expect local searches within a couple of weeks. However, if many applications have been made and there’s a backlog, expect this to take longer. There’s little you can do in this situation other than wait.

4. Securing a mortgage

If you’re taking out a mortgage, it can take several weeks to be approved even in straightforward circumstances. However, this is one area that you have greater control over. Before you start searching for a home, make sure you’re mortgage ready. This means checking your credit score and getting the appropriate paperwork in order. Usually, you’ll need to provide the last three months of payslips and bank statements.

You should also carefully choose a lender based on their likelihood of approving your application. If you have a good credit rating and typical employment this isn’t usually a problem. However, if your credit score is poor or you’re self-employed, for example, it can be more difficult. A mortgage broker can help you go through the process more smoothly and handle any issues that come up. If you’d like support with your mortgage application, please contact us.

5. Broken chains

A chain breaking down is one of the most common reasons for a house purchase to take longer than expected. You might be ready to move, but what about your seller? And your seller’s seller? The longer the chain is, the more likely that the chain will collapse or you encounter delays. Unfortunately, there’s little you can do in this situation other than patiently wait if you’ve fallen in love with a house that’s in a chain. Keeping in contact with your conveyancer so you know how things are progressing can ease the feeling that nothing is happening.

6. Leasehold property

Are you thinking of buying a leasehold property? Then expect the entire process to take a little longer. Your solicitor will need to review the leasehold for a start. This can lead to questions about covenants and areas like maintenance charges. Whilst a delay is annoying, it’s best to be absolutely clear about your responsibilities and restrictions. You may also find that a mortgage lender won’t release funds until they’ve clarified Land Registry records, which can add another few weeks to the entire process.

7. Other offers are made

In England, there’s nothing to stop other prospective buyers putting in an offer even if you’re quite far into the process; this can happen right up to exchanging contracts. Known as gazumping, someone putting in a higher offer may mean you have to renegotiate the sale prices if you’re certain you want the property or walk away and start looking all over again.

If you’re hoping to speed up the house buying process, having your finances in order can help. Whether you’re applying for a mortgage or a cash buyer, being prepared can get things going. To discuss your needs, please get in touch.