How long does it take to exchange contracts on a house?

Every sale is different and works to its own time scale but on average it should take anywhere between 8-12 weeks to exchange contracts on a house. This exchange also usually takes place 7-28 days before the agreed completion date.

You may be wondering why it takes such a long time to exchange contracts.

The answer to this common question is that exchanging contracts is a lot more complicated than both the seller and buyer agreeing on a property transaction. It often involves a lot more steps and people.

Firstly, for exchange to happen the conveyancer’s of both the buyer and seller must have a signed contract. Each side must also have possession of the necessary documents for the transaction such as signed transfer of title deeds (for the seller) and cleared deposit funds and a mortgage offer (for the buyer). The completion date must also be agreed upon before exchange can occur.

It is due to this variety of steps that exchange may take some time. Some possible delays could arise from the mortgage lender taking their time to propose a mortgage offer or a buyer may even be struggling to secure an offer in the first place and pass all the necessary checks. It can also be tricky to find the perfect completion date. Both sides would need to find a date on which all the necessary funds and documents would be ready to go as well as booking removal slots in order to have vacated their respective properties in order to accommodate specific deadlines.

There are also other reasons for an exchange of contracts taking slightly longer than expected. The time taken for exchange can also depend on whether you are involved in a chain. This added complexity can impact on the time as each buyer and seller all the way up the chain needs to have communicated with their solicitors and have their respective legal documents and funds ready to go. Unfortunately, even if one person in the chain is delayed this can have a knock on effect on everyone else. Lawyers and clients may also delay matters if a firm has a lot of people to deal with at once or clients are not responsive and promptly signing documents. For this reason, it is important within the conveyancing process, that each person or group involved is communicative and efficient to prevent prolonging any of the steps involved.

So, in short, there are quite a few procedures that have to be completed before exchange of contracts can happen. The average time that we would expect exchange to take is 8-12 weeks. This allows for any possible delays but if everyone works efficiently and actively to overcome any potential hurdles everything should go without a hitch and both buyers and sellers can look forward to completion day and the fulfilment of their respective transactions.