The average time taken to buy a home and have the keys in hand takes more than five months, according to research from Smoove’s Home Movers Report.
Within the last six months, the average time taken to complete the home purchasing process stands at 153 days. By contrast, in 2019 and before the pandemic it took 124 days – an increase of 19 days or 23%.
The increase is most likely a result of the post-lockdown boom, as changing consumer lifestyles and demand outweigh supply, combined with greater capacity constraints for solicitors, and local authority searches taking longer to complete likely due to technology failures or a large backlog.
The home moving process also continues to be a very protracted, fragmented and analogue experience, with many checks and documents still needing to be in physical form, rather than being able to be signed or reviewed digitally.
As a result, nine in ten homeowners found the process stressful, the sheer length of time it took to complete the process (40%), with the lack of certainty (34%) and waiting for exchange and completion dates to be finalised (33%) amongst the main reasons.
The research shows that the length of time filling out forms, such as property title deeds, EPCs, local authority searches, transaction (TA) and conveyancing forms (TA) is a particular aggravation for homeowners.
The documents that take the longest to wait for and complete include mortgage application/agreement in principle (22%), ID checks (18%) and local authority property searches (16%).
According to Conveyancing Data Services (CDS), the average length of time to receive personal searches from local councils across England and Wales was between 9 to 11 days in August.
However, while the majority of councils are processing requests in a reasonable timeframe, some councils are taking longer on search times, such as Middlesbrough (35 to 40 working days) and Havering (65 to 70 working days).
Simon McCulloch, Chief Commercial and Growth officer, comments:
“Too often we hear of the misery that comes with moving home. The sheer length of time it takes to complete the process is a major stress driver.
Local property searches being delayed only adds to the pressure and these significantly vary region by region with some search times taking up to 70 days.
For this reason, we recommend ordering your searches as soon as possible, particularly as we, in partnership with CDS, offer a refresh or replacement service if needed.
A further way to reduce time and stress for all parties is to use a platform or conveyancer that offers services like electronic onboarding, ID verification and case tracking.
We need to modernise the industry and systematically transform the home moving experience by increasingly digitising and automating the process.
Whether that means providing transactional visibility, quicker checks, automatic form filling, or real time updates, these will all ultimately ensure a more satisfactory outcome for everyone.”