Buying a home – just how long does it take?
I’ve just read the results of a new survey which suggests it takes on average 6 months & 24 days for buying a home. The research, using polling data from 2000 buyers and conducted on behalf of a property virtual tours firm*, goes on to break down the time taken in various parts of the transaction. This, to me, is where it got interesting – is there anything we could learn from each stage of the process so we can better help our clients?
Just to start off with, I don’t believe the headline figures on the survey. The average time to exchange of contracts is suggested as 5.34 months and a total transaction time of 6.8 months.
I have no idea how long buyers take from starting to look until making an offer – everyones circumstances are different after all – but I do know our average transaction time from offer accepted to completion is currently 9 – 12 weeks. In addition, our average “on market” to completion for our clients properties is currently running at about 15 weeks (with other local agents ranging from the same figure and up to 20 weeks).
It seems a bit daft to me to try and put a total time on a process that will be completely different for every buyer. Do you need to sell before you can look? Are you looking for a one in a million property or a standard two up two down? Have you saved your deposit/appointed a solicitor/obtained your mortgage in principle or are you doing everything on the fly?
Anyway, regardless of the headline stats, some of the breakdown figures started me thinking so lets have a look at some of them;
19.46 hours spent online on an average of 16 properties
1.21 hours analyzing each property? I doubt it. Buyer behaviour on Rightmove/Zoopla etc is more likely trawling through one big search, discarding plenty and focusing on a few for further study. Add to this any new properties that pop up during their search, any reductions that bring properties into their budget and of course homes that pro-active agents send them directly. Searching for a property is a bit needle in a haystack so always spread your net wider than you think necessary, don’t just rely on online searches, compromise from the start and you never know what options you might find.
3.74 days waiting for a viewing
This one I can believe. From an agents point of view, the exercise of meshing buyers availability with owners movements and our own diaries can be more difficult than getting my cat to take a worming tablet. The situation only becomes more complicated when you’re dealing with tenanted properties, shift workers or viewers travelling from long distances. A few days planning ahead works best for all parties so I doubt this stat will change in the future.
4.47 days between viewing and making an offer
My immediate reaction to this was in a fast market, you can’t afford to wait this long or someone else will beat you to the punch. The second you’ve got competition for the property you want, you’re likely to pay more and go through more stress. Speed of decision is vital. Do your research before the viewing and expect quick answers to any questions you have but then get on with your offer. If you can secure the property before others come in, all well and good. If you can’t, at the very least the owner will remember you for being quick and efficient. Also, if you love the property, be sensible with your offer. Too low and you’ll risk offending the owner.
2.98 days picking a solicitor
Not enough time taken in our experience. Your solicitor is an absolutely vital part of your team and your choice will dictate a) how long the remainder of the process will take and b) how successful you will be. Local experience counts, as does accessibility for meetings and dropping off paperwork. Recommendations from workmates, friends and family should be taken seriously whereas recommendations from agents could be commission based. How your solicitor communicates with you and other parties in the transaction will be crucial to your progress so take your time and choose carefully.
We’ve put together a quick reference guide for buying a home below to help you optimise your search process.
Do let us know if we’ve missed anything out!
*Study conducted for EMEA Matterport – reported in Estate Agent Today 28/05/19