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Home sales taking longer than normal

Home sales taking longer than normal
Feb 09 , 2021

Properties are taking 29% longer than average to sell once under offer

Residential properties are currently taking almost a third longer than normal sell once under offer because of conveyancing delays, fresh industry data shows.

Movewise analysed estate agency data on almost 500,000 property sales across the UK where contracts were exchanged over the past 30 days and 180 days. The study found that properties are taking 29% longer to complete.

Homes are taking longer to sell at the moment because of delays in the process, with the latest data from Rightmove showing there are a massive 613,000 properties trying to reach completion.

The temporary stamp duty holiday that came on 8th July last year is due to end on 31st March, so they’ve put together some advice if you’re just starting out or if you’re in the middle of a move right now.

How long is the process taking?

The latest study from Rightmove's data analysts shows that it is now taking 126 days from the time an offer is accepted until legal completion, which is just over four months.

If you’ve just put your home on the market, the average time from advertising a home until it has an offer is accepted is 57 days, so on average the total process is around 26 weeks.

Across the regions, average time to exchange contracts, once an offer has been made, has increased by 37% in Scotland (from 70 to 96 days) and 32% in the North East (from 87 to 115 days). In London, average time to exchange has increased by 29%, from 97 to 125 days.

But remember these are averages, and it will depend on a number of things such as if you’re a cash buyer and so can move more quickly, if you’re in a chain, and how long your local searches will take.

If you’re starting out the year looking for a home, we’d advise that you don’t factor in any stamp duty savings from the temporary holiday, unless you’re a first-time buyer and are buying a home for £300,000 or less.

What if I’ve already factored in stamp duty savings?

Rightmove estimate that based on the current situation, around 100,000 sales going through are going to miss out on the stamp duty savings unless there is an extension.

If you think you’re in danger of falling into this group, speak early to your estate agent and ask for their advice on making sure the sale doesn’t fall through, as it may be possible to re-negotiate with the seller.

Is the market busy?

The good news for sellers is that buyer activity is even higher than it was a year ago, and last January was particularly strong because the market had some post-election certainty of a majority government.

Many people have reassessed their housing priorities following their experience of lockdown, and with another long lockdown upon us, there are early signs that we are surpassing 2020’s new-year surge in activity.

The number of prospective buyers contacting agents between 2nd and 12th January was up by 12% and sales agreed numbers were up by 9% on the comparable period last year.

Will things change when the stamp duty holiday ends?

Rightmove anticipate a slower second quarter once the stamp duty holiday is over, but it should also be remembered that the surge in buyer demand after the first lockdown in 2020 was initially driven by movers’ changed housing needs.

This means that the momentum we saw last year actually started a couple of months before the July introduction of the stamp duty holiday.

The combination of the two resulted in an amazing recovery in 2020 activity despite the pandemic, with the number of sales agreed up by 10% compared to the whole of 2019.

The stamp duty holiday has undoubtedly added extra momentum to the market, but all regions have seen far greater average price increases than the average savings in stamp duty.

Regional data from Movewise shows the average number of days to sell a property (from listing to exchange), comparing transactions which exchanged in the past 30 days vs 180 days. The table shows the time take to exchange contracts once a property is under offer:


If you you are looking for a quick sale why not consider an auction sale?