Timescales in buying and selling houses

Both Purchaser and Seller will wish to have the Contract to sell the house in place just as soon as possible.  This provides more certainty that the transaction will proceed, as scheduled.

Before there is a binding agreement (contract) in place, either side can withdraw from the negotiations, without penalty.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to achieve a quick timescale as one side (or both) may have other considerations, including trying to co-ordinate this transaction with another.

1. Seller’s acceptance of the offer.

Typically, a Purchaser should expect it to take about a week for an Acceptance to be  issued.

Time is needed for the Offer to be sent to the Seller’s solicitor and for that solicitor to take instructions on the Offer (from his/her client) and prepare an Acceptance.

The availability of the Seller will also have an impact on the timing, in particular if there are a number of Sellers, possibly in different parts of the country.

Usually the Offer will say that the Acceptance is to be received within 5 working days, but that is not always achievable.

2. Purchaser’s response to (qualified) acceptance.

Once the Acceptance or Qualified Acceptance has been received by the Purchaser’s solicitor, they will check the details. They will take instructions from the Purchaser and make sure that the Purchaser is happy with any amendments or disclosures.

This could be done quickly via a phone call. However, particularly if there are a few issues, the solicitor may wish the Purchaser to see the Acceptance, with a written explanation.

If the title deeds have been sent by the Seller’s solicitor to the Purchaser’s solicitor at the same time, the Purchaser’s solicitor will prefer to have examined these before going any further. This is so that the Purchaser has a full understanding of any issues before they commit themselves to the next stage of the Contract.  The Seller should expect that part of the Contract to take at least a couple of days or longer if the qualifications are unusual or the title deeds have been sent with the Acceptance.

3. Further tweaking of the contract terms before finalisation.

If the Purchaser requests a further amendment to the Contract, this will be relayed in a further Contract letter. Typically, this letter has only two or three clauses, which means that, when the Seller’s solicitor is taking instructions from the Seller, the timescale for this should be fairly speedy.


Overall, both parties should expect the Contract process to take around 3 to 5 weeks.

Please note that, sometimes, the Contract is not concluded until the same day as the transaction is going through.

Remember that, if the Purchaser is funding the purchase with a Mortgage, their solicitor may also have to comply with the lender’s requirements. A proposed clause in the contract might be something which the Purchaser will accept, but their solicitor may also need to check with the lender first.

The Contract process and the Conveyancing Process are usually progressed at the same time.

The right to withdraw from the deal

Until the final letter is in place, either side could change their mind without being liable to the other.

This uncertainty can be frustrating, especially if one side feels that the other side is delaying for a reason not directly relating to the Contract. Such a delay can make it difficult for both sides to finalise other arrangements.

Your solicitor will do their absolute best to make sure that your transaction completes as scheduled and – in the vast majority of cases – this is what happens.  Your solicitor will give you as much warning as possible if something arises and they do not think that your transaction will complete on the scheduled date.

How we can help

We hope you have found this information about timescales in buying and selling houses to be helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact us, if you have any queries. All initial enquiries are at no charge and without obligation.

Contact one of our Conveyancing Team members via 01343 544077 or send us a Free Online Enquiry.

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