How Long Does It Take to Move House?

family looking forward to moving house

The length of time it takes to move house greatly depends on your current situation. If you have a house lined up that you are due to move into, it will take you 1 or 2 days to pack up your belongings, relocate them to the new property and move in. However, it could be a bit more complicated if you want to buy, sell or rent a property before moving.

To answer how long it will take to move house, you need to consider your current living situation. At what point are you in the moving process? Do you have a house to sell before you can buy another? Are you moving from rented property to a bought property? Or from rented property to another rented property?

In this article, we’ll discuss the individual stages of moving house with their own typical timescale. This allows you to identify the relevant stages of your moving process to get a good idea of how long it would take to move house.


Ending Your Tenancy

(1 week – 3 months)

If you are a first-time buyer or have been living in rented accommodation before moving house, it is important to give your current landlord ample notice before moving out. Typically, the required notice time will be included within your tenancy agreement.

A fixed term tenancy or, assured short hold tenancy is intended to last for a set amount of time. The process could be more complicated if you intend to exit the contract early. You will need to check your tenancy agreement for a break clause. Not every contract will have one, but those that do have one will instruct you on how to end your tenancy early. The break clause will usually include the amount of time required to give notice and any conditions for leaving the contract early. Even if your tenancy does not have a break clause, you could still negotiate with the landlord to leave the agreement early.

Notice periods for tenancy agreements can be anywhere from 1 weeks to 3 months. Ensure you know the rest of your moving timeline before committing to a date with your landlord. You wouldn’t want to come to the end of your tenancy and not have anywhere ready to move into.


Sell your Home

(5 – 10 weeks)

Alternatively, if you want to move house but already own a home, you will need to start the proceedings to sell your previous home. When calculating how long it will take to move house, selling your exiting home can be a temperamental component. In some cases, you may find a buyer quickly and be able to work with a solicitor to get the property transferred in a matter of weeks. In other cases, there can be complications with the buyers or the conveyancing process. This can add weeks of delay to the process.

In a typical example, selling your house contains the key timestamps:

  • Have your property valued (24 hours)

The first step in selling your property, is knowing how much to sell it for. There are several ways to have your property valued. You can have a surveyor come inspect it for a calculated valuation. Or, you could invite an estate agent to your property to have a valuation estimate. Many buyers opt to utilise estate agent valuations. This is because the service is usually free as an incentive to use them as your agent. However, you can instruct several estate agents to perform an estimate on your house and select a price that is somewhere in the middle of the valuations. This will give you your most realistic sale price.

  • Put your house on the market (1 week)

After deciding how much you want to sell your house for, you will need to instruct an estate agent to market your property. You should be cautious in selecting your agent, some are more proficient than others.

After deciding who you will work with to sell your property, the agent should work on getting your property on the market. This will include having professional photos taken of the property and uploading a listing to their dedicated site or third-party property listing sites like Zoopla and Rightmove.

  • Present your property for viewings (1 – 3 months)

Across the UK, a property takes around 15 viewings on average before being sold subject to contract. This number can vary across the country and between types of property however.
Based on this average, it is suggested that viewings will last for around 9 weeks before receiving an offer.

Of course, this period of time can heavily influence how long it will take to move house. However, you can reduce the number of viewings needed to sell your property by making it appear desirable to potential buyers. Often decluttering and tidying the property up are efficient ways of allowing viewers to be

more open minded. Some buyers struggle to see their own life within other people’s homes. Even though you should go into a viewing with an open mind, you can help them see things more clearly.

  • Purchase a new home (3 – 6 months)

Once you start gaining interest in your property, it is a good time to get the ball rolling for finding your next home. Becoming part of a chain can extend the time it takes to move house but you will need to secure your next home before selling your property.

Buying a property will put you on the other side of the purchase process. You will have to attend viewings, arrange a mortgage, place an offer and complete the conveyancing for a purchase. This can all take a number of weeks and months. You may even be subject to your own set of delays; therefore, it is a good idea to get a head start before getting too deep into selling your property.

  • Accept an offer (24 hours)

After viewings, you should start to receive some offers from potential buyers. It is your estate agent’s obligation to pass on all offers in the order that they are received. Some of these may be out of the region that you are willing to accept, this can initiate negotiations or conditional agreements. Typically, these early negotiations won’t last long. There is room for further negotiations during the drafting of the contract.

If you receive an offer that you are willing to accept, the process is extremely simple. Your estate agent will inform you of the offer, you decide whether or not to accept and then simply have to notify the agent. They will take care of communications with the buyer and their next steps.

  • Conveyancing (8 – 12 weeks)

The conveyancing process tends to be far more relaxed for sellers than buyers. It will likely be the buyer and their solicitor who determine the time it takes to move house. Your obligations during the conveyancing process include completing a number of questionnaires about the property, paying the balance for your mortgage and participating in contract negotiations. The buyer’s solicitor has a much larger set of tasks to complete which causes the delay in the time it takes to move house. There are several conveyancing checks and disbursements to be complete. The buyer may also arrange a survey to be completed on your property

  • Exchange Contracts and Complete (1 -3 weeks)

After the conveyancing is complete, you should be ready to exchange contracts. Before signing, you should agree a completion date with both the buyers of your property and the sellers of your new property. This will determine how long it will take before you can move house. Typically, there isn’t a lengthy period of time between exchange and completion. The greatest challenge is coordinating all parties within a chain to agree to the same date.


Buy a House

(3 – 6 months)

We previously discussed a brief overview for purchasing a property during the sale process. However, you may be trying to determine how long it will take to move house from rented accommodation into a purchased property. In this case, there is no house to sell first. This section of the article provides a clear breakdown of the timeline for buying a new property to move into.

  • Mortgage agreement in principle (24 hours)

Before even beginning to look for a property you should speak with your preferred mortgage lender. A mortgage agreement in principle is an essential piece of information to have before looking for a new home. It is an informal agreement between the buyer and a mortgage lender that details the amount the buyer could potentially borrow to purchase a house. This is not a legally binding agreement and circumstances can change. However, based on the information provided by the buyer at that point in time, the lender will be able to give a figure for the amount of loan they would be able to afford and could be approved for.

This is vital for starting the house hunting process. The mortgage AIP allows you to set a realistic budget and have reassurance that you should have a mortgage approved for a property that price. This agreement will only stand with a consistent financial status so you should be cautious with spending and financial commitments during this period. Having a mortgage AIP can also reduce how long it takes to move house as the mortgage application will be a much smoother process.

  • View properties (1 week – 2 months)

On average, buyers will attend between four and eight properties before deciding on the right house for them. This can take any amount of time ranging from weeks to months. It all depends on your preferences and availability of properties.

It is important to take your time in choosing the right property but also to act quickly if you see something you like. In 2021, the housing market is extremely competitive as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst you should consider if the property is worth investing in, be aware of other interest in the property as this could lead to you losing out.

  • Make an offer (24 – 48 hours)

Once you are sold on a property, make your offer as soon as possible. Other offers could already be making their way to the seller. Estate agents will provide offers in the order that the are received. The seller shouldn’t take too long in their deliberation of an offer but they might have multiple to consider. In some cases, the best price isn’t always the only factor to consider. Cash buyers and first-time buyers can often be more desirable candidates because of their ability to complete quickly.

To increase your chances of having an offer accepted, demonstrate your ability to move quickly. This could involve presented your mortgage AIP or showing that you already have a solicitor on standby. Having an offer accepted on your first-choice property can really reduce the time it takes to move house.

  • Conveyancing (8 – 12 weeks)

Conveyancing can take a different amount of time for each property and buyer. According to different circumstances, various checks must be completed. You may also request that a survey is complete on the property. It takes around a week to receive the results of a survey plus additional time for the solicitor to evaluate the outcome. If there are any serious complications associated with the property the conveyancing process can be extended through negotiations. It is essential to be patient throughout the conveyancing process as you want it to be completed thoroughly, not rushed. Whilst this may mean it takes longer to move house, you will be far better off when you have all the details of the property and its condition.

  • Exchange and Completion (1 – 3 weeks)

How quickly the move occurs after exchange depends on whether all parties in the chain are able to agree on a completion date. Complications can occur when one part is not available to complete for a number of weeks or a specific day cannot be agreed. Typically, completion should only occur one or two weeks after exchange. This is plenty of time for the final stages of conveyancing and for you to pack up and get ready for the move.


Final Thoughts

When asking, ‘How long does it take to move house?’ there are plenty of factors to consider. The process will probably take it’s longest for movers in a chain. When selling and buying a house at the same time, the process is susceptible to complications and plenty of delays.

To speed this process up, having a good conveyancing solicitor on your side is indispensable. Having access to a dedicated legal expert who can complete outstanding tasks as quickly as possible will keep things moving swiftly. Some delays cannot be prevented. However, working with an individual who is highly experienced in providing efficient conveyancing services can cut weeks off your move.

My Conveyancing Specialist are proud to provide an affordable and efficient alternative to traditional high street solicitors. In typical cases, your paperwork can be handed between desks, left at the bottom of piles or even lost within the office. At MCS we have optimised this process by taking it completely online. Not only does this create a far more efficient system, but our solicitors are dedicated to conveyancing cases. Once you’re on board with us, we take your case as our highest priorities. There are no distractions to cause delays and we keep you in the loop along the way.