How to speed up the sale of your house
The question of how to speed up the sale of your house can be a tricky one. The process of selling a house requires lots of different parties to work together. This means there are lots of opportunities for hold-ups, which can be incredibly frustrating.
In this guide
How long does it take to sell a house and have house sales slowed down?
Although there are plenty of stories about houses going ‘under offer’ within a couple of days of going on the market, the average time it takes to accept an offer in the UK is currently 1 to 3 months.
Once you’ve accepted an offer, it currently takes an average of 150 days (around 5 months) for the legal process to complete. There is some evidence of house sales slowing down. Figures from Rightmove suggest that the conveyancing process now takes an average of 50 days longer than it did in 2019. It is thought that this slowing is due to the sheer number of property sale transactions. It is suggested that there are now 39 percent more property sales than there were before the pandemic.
Why is my house sale taking so long? Common reasons for a slow house sale
If you’re trying to find out how to speed up the sale of your house, there will be a few scenarios you’ll want to avoid. These are some of the most common reasons for a slow house sale:
- Length of property chain
- Slow solicitors
- One or more parties having difficulty obtaining a mortgage offer
- Delays in obtaining property searches
Large property chains
Property chains can cause all sorts of problems and are one of the biggest causes of house sales falling through before completion. The longer your property chain (the number of related property sales), the more at risk you are of serious delay and chain collapse. Even if there aren’t any unexpected issues that crop up in the property chain, coordinating a larger number of sales will always take longer.
Solicitors holding up house sale
Conveyancing solicitors are always busy, but their current workload is even larger than usual. Overloaded solicitors can quickly result in slow sale progression.
Difficulty obtaining a mortgage
Mortgage lenders are becoming increasingly cautious in the face of high inflation rates and lower customer affordability levels. As a result, they may ask for additional information to help them decide whether or not to make you a formal mortgage offer. This extra due diligence takes time and can cause delays to the house sale process.
It is currently estimated that around 25% of failed sales are due to buyers being unable to secure a mortgage.
Slow property searches
Searches are a significant part of the legal house selling process. They investigate whether there are any historical issues in the local area that may impact the property, or any planned developments nearby.
Most homes will need to have the following searches conducted before a sale can complete:
- Local authority search
- Environmental search
- Water and drainage search
There are also a number of other discretionary searches that you can opt in or out of.
An increase in volume of property sale transactions has led to hold ups in property searches. In usual times you could expect the results of your searches in 2 to 3 weeks, but recent local authority searches have been taking as long as 12 weeks in some areas.
How to speed up the sale of your house – top tips
If you need to sell your house fast, these tips could help:
Prepare as much as you can
Doing as much ‘admin’ as you can before you market the property will help to speed up the sale of your house.
Before you market the property, or whilst you’re waiting to receive an offer, you can do simple tasks like:
- Apply to your mortgage lender for an Agreement in Principle
- Get any paperwork together that relates to the sale of your property. This could be any lease information (if the property is leasehold), any warranties or guarantees relating to different aspects of the house, eg. double glazing installation/warranties, and any other relevant documents eg. boiler servicing record.
- Get a reputable conveyancing solicitor lined up to take care of the legal aspect of the sale.
Choose your estate agent and solicitor carefully
As we’ve already mentioned, solicitors play a vital role in the speed and success of your sale, and the same is true for estate agents. If you don’t have any personal experience of reputable estate agents or conveyancing solicitors in your area, it’s always best to ask for personal recommendations from people you trust. Buying and selling property is expensive, so it can be tempting to go for the cheapest quote, but that could end up costing you in the long run. Your estate agent and solicitor ‘represent’ you to your buyers – don’t risk the success of your sale on saving a few pounds. Always base your decision on reputation rather than price.
Choose your buyer carefully
Choosing the right buyer will really help to speed up your house sale. Again, it can be tempting to focus on your bank balance and just accept the highest offer, but choosing a buyer in an uncomplicated, proceedable position is always likely to be a better move. An ideal buyer would:
- Be chain-free (or in a very small property chain)
- Have an Agreement in Principle in place with their mortgage lender
- Be employed (rather than self-employed) and have been in their current job for a number of years (this will make securing a mortgage much quicker and easier)
- Have a substantial deposit available (again, this will help them to secure a mortgage)
Of course, you’re unlikely to find the perfect buyer, but any one of these factors (the more, the better!) will be likely to speed up the sale of your house and improve its chances of completing successfully.
Conveyancing solicitors are currently overloaded with the number of property transactions on their books. If you want to speed up the sale of your property, it’s important that you keep in regular contact with your solicitor to keep track of the sale progress and make sure you’re aware of what needs to be done before the sale can complete. The same goes for your estate agent. Your estate agent should be in regular contact with your buyer, keeping them updated, so it’s important that you check in with them regularly to keep up the momentum of the sale.
Be realistic and objective about your current property
It’s not uncommon for mortgage lenders to down-value properties (say they’re worth less than the agreed sale price), especially if they believe we may be heading for an economic downturn. It is also not uncommon for buyers to try to renegotiate the sale price if anything undesirable shows up during the structural survey. If either of these things happen, it’s important that you remain calm and try to be realistic and objective about the situation. If one lender down-values the property, it would be likely that other lenders would do the same if you decided to try to find a different buyer. The same is true for a buyer trying to renegotiate the price of the property. It’s therefore important that you try to work with your buyer to find a solution.
If the property has been down-valued by the lender, you have two choices – agree to sell the property at the lower price or remarket your property and hope that your new buyer’s lender will agree with the higher valuation. This would result in significant delays to your sale though and could result in you losing the property you’re buying.
If your buyer tries to renegotiate after the survey, you can:
- Refuse to alter the price – doing so could risk your buyer pulling out and the sale falling through.
- Agree to their suggested price reduction to keep the sale on track – you will need to consider how achieving less for your current property will impact your onward plans.
- Try to meet in the middle and negotiate a smaller discount than the one they have suggested – whether this is successful will depend on how much they want the property and how expensive they think the issues identified in the survey will be to rectify. Again, you may risk the buyer pulling out all together if they don’t feel you’re offering a big enough discount, so it’s important that you have a knowledgeable estate agent who can handle the negotiations sensitively and gauge how open the buyer is to compromise.
If you want to speed up your house sale, it’s important that you respond promptly to any enquiries from your solicitor or estate agent. Ensure you answer all questions with as much detail as possible. This will reduce the amount of ‘back and forth’ required and speed up the sale.
Explore alternative routes
If you’re in need of a particularly quick house sale, you could consider different sale methods. Both property auction and homebuying companies can offer quicker alternatives to the open market. Most auction sales will complete within 30 days of the auction date and a cash homebuying company will be able to complete the sale in as little as a week.
Find out more about:
- How much is my house worth?
- How long does a mortgage offer last when buying a new home?
- What is a mortgage prisoner and how do you become free?
- Capital gains tax on property – where you stand in 2023
- What is a down valuation?
- How much do conveyancing fees cost?
- How to sell my property portfolio
- How to add value to your house in 2023
- Private house sales – All you need to know
- Guide to property raffles