The process of buying a house is a complex one, and one that is unique to each buyer. It involves many moving parts and various stages which can be shorter, or longer, for different people.

And how much time the whole process takes from start to finish, is a big question, one which s1homes will help guide you through. Understanding each stage in the process, rough timescales involved, and various expectations will give you the clearest indication possible.

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Being part of a chain

One of the biggest impacts on the home buying timeline is whether you are part of a chain, meaning if you have a property to sell first and your seller isn’t relying on buying somewhere else to make the move happen. In most cases, there will be a certain chain involved, unless you are a first-time buyer and the seller of your prospective home has already moved on or isn’t buying again.

A hold up in the chain can impact everyone involved and therefore can cause delays.

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Getting a mortgage Agreement in Principle (AIP)

Along with getting your finances sorted to see what property you can afford and checking your credit history and health, getting a mortgage in principle from your preferred lender should be your first step and will give you the best indication of what you can afford. It should also make the mortgage process run a little smoother when it comes to applying for real. Many lenders offer this online so you could have an agreement in principle in place pretty quickly – less than 24 hours sometimes.

Approx. timescale: 24 hours

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Finding your perfect home

Having a rough idea of what you can afford will help narrow down your options but depending on the rest of your criteria, the number of properties available can vary. With over 14,000 Scottish properties at, there are plenty to choose from, but with property prices rising it may take longer for you to find one you can afford. If you’re currently in the market, be prepared for either a longer wait, lots of competition or even having to raise your offer price.

Approx. timescale: A few weeks to a few months

Making an offer – pre-contract stage

Once you’ve found the right property, made your offer, and it’s accepted by the seller, the next things to follow are getting your mortgage application approved, drafting the contracts between buyer and seller and conducting surveys and property checks. A lot of things in this part can add delays, such as mortgage credit checks by your lender, negotiating the contract with the seller and the checks that your solicitor carries out on the property. There could be planning limitations, environmental risks on the property and even back and forth regarding items being left behind by the seller.

Approx. timescale: 4 to 12 weeks

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Completing contracts

After your mortgage is approved and the contracts have been agreed and completed between buyer and seller, you can officially exchange contracts. Basically, you are signing legally binding contracts regarding the sale of the property, transferring ownership of the property from seller to buyer. When agreeing on contracts, you will agree a move in date in which you will exchange keys and complete the purchase by transferring funds. Completion dates can be anything from a week to a month away from when contracts are completed.

Approx. timescale: 4 to 6 weeks

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Moving into your new home

With a completion date in hand, you can now prepare to move into your new home. From arranging home insurance cover for your new property, booking movers, arranging any storage needed and getting all your paperwork in place. When agreeing on a completion date with the seller, you may be keen to get into the property as soon as possible, but if you can, give yourself enough space and time to prepare to move so you don’t feel too rushed.

Remember that when you move into your new property you’ll need to check over everything to make sure it is all in line with the contracts you agreed. For example, if it was agreed that some furniture is to be included in the sale, check that all items are there. You only have around a week to report any issues to your solicitor.

Now all that is left to do is to enjoy your new home.

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