New research reveals how long it will actually take to complete on a house sale in the current market

The effects of pandemic pressure on the housing market are really beginning to bite
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  • Completing a house sale will take you up to half a year in some parts of England and Wales in 2021, new research reveals.

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    As the first phase of the stamp duty holiday deadline approaches, homebuyers across the nation remain stuck in transaction limbo due to long delays at the back end of the selling timeline caused by very high levels of buyer demand. Research by the estate agent comparison site, GetAgent.co.uk, has revealed just how long these current market delays are and how they differ across England and Wales.

    The housing market backlog

    Building-an-extension-on-a-house-rear-and-side

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Using data from all of the major online portals, the research compares the point at which a home is listed for sale online with the point when it is removed after moving into the ‘sold subject to contract’ phase. Cross-referencing this data with official Land Registry sale completion information gives a new – and rather disheartening – view of just how long it now takes to complete a house sale in the current conditions.

    The housing market backlog is the new reality of Covid-era home buying, and it is extensive. The data shows that currently, the average property is taking 274 days to sell from the point of listing online to being marked as completed by the Land Registry. However, just 118 days of this is attributed to the actual process of advertising the property and finding a buyer. It’s then taking a further 156 days for the property to go through the final conveyancing process and complete – more than five and half months.

    The region with the longest house sale delays

    In some regions, this delay is far greater, and the East of England takes the unfortunate top spot as the region with the longest market delays. In this part of the country, transactions are taking 182 days, or six and a half months, from the point the property is removed from the portals to completion.

    Thirties house kitchen extension with steel framed windows and kitchen island

    Douglas Gibb/Future PLC

    In the North East, this time currently averages 172 days, with the South West (166 days), East Midlands (165 days) and London (159 days) also experiencing above-average timelines. Almost anywhere in England, it taking around six months to complete the final stages of a sale.

    The really shocking statistic comes from a more localised level, however. In North West Leicestershire, homebuyers are facing the longest wait of anywhere else in England. The current timeline from accepting an offer to completing on a sale currently sits at a huge 422 days – over 15 months.

    Building-an-extension-on-a-house-full-length-glass

    image credit: Future PLC

    Cannock Chase (394 days), Barnet (362 days), West Lindsey (351 days) and South Hams (348 days) also rank amongst the longest market timelines where the final stages of a transaction are concerned.

    ‘The stamp duty holiday has been a great incentive to coax many homebuyers out of their Covid boltholes and into the market, but this huge influx of buyer demand has had its consequences,’ says ounder and CEO of GetAgent.co.uk, Colby Short.

    ‘The industry has struggled to cope and none more so than the conveyancing industry whose failure to keep pace has led to a huge build-up of transactions and very lengthy delays at the back end of the transaction process.’

    Related: Avoid these 5 mistakes when selling a house – and sell faster and for more money

    What can you do if you are a buyer? Unfortunately, patience is the only recipe at the moment. As Colby points out, the situation highlights the fact that ‘the home buying and selling process in the UK is built on some pretty archaic practices’, and this will take a good while to change.

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