Are you looking to buy or sell a home but don’t know where to start? If you don’t know what the process involves or how long it could take, then we’ve got just the thing – carry on reading to find out more.

Two of the main questions we get asked when helping homeowners or buyers embark on the moving process is how long the process is likely to take or how quickly it can be done. Many people think that buying or selling a property is a simple process and will happen in a matter of a few weeks or even sometimes days. At worst, they might think it’ll take a couple of months, but are left disappointed when this isn’t the case. In reality the average time is much longer. When moving, there is a lot to consider, both for you and the legal professional you employ to check the property for you.

The real problem is that conveyancing is actually quite tricky. We’d love to reduce the process to a few tick-boxes, but it simply can’t be done. It often surprises people how many third parties have to be involved too – from surveyors, to mortgage brokers, lenders, solicitors and even the local council. It’s no wonder then that the average time it takes from starting your search to exchanging contracts in England is 22 weeks according to Which.

Here are the 10 steps for buying or selling a home to try and help make the process a little simpler for you, or at the very least get you more prepared:

Getting your papers in order

If you are selling a property, one way of avoiding delays is to make sure you have all of the relevant paperwork ready before you even put your house on the market. If you have extended the house, converted the loft or even changed the boiler, solicitors will need to see all formal approvals of this. These can take time so starting to get these ready early on is a great way to prepare.

Find a solicitor

We recommend local solicitors who we know to be experienced and will guide you through the process.


You will need to complete various legal forms and have some checks carried out on you to get the ball rolling.


Mortgage applications are taking longer than ever, and this is one of the main areas of delay for any sale or purchase. Make sure you get that application in early. Using a broker will help. The in-depth paperwork for this can be daunting and a professional advisor will be able to guide you through.


It’s advisable to get a survey when buying to make sure the house is sound with no structural issues. Take time to choose a recommended surveyor who is prepared to talk the report through with you – they can often be very detailed.


When buying your property, on your behalf your solicitor will approach the local authority to request a number of searches for you. These are generally to check the surrounding area, the local drainage systems and water facilities. You will need to provide payment for these and costs vary depending on who you choose to use.


Your solicitor will have enquiries from the search results, the mortgage company, the management of the building (if an apartment) and on the information supplied by you, the vendor, about the house. It is really important to respond to any questions you get, in full, clearly and quickly, providing supporting documents where you have them. This helps to ensure no unnecessary delays.

Get your money ready

Often banks will need a bit of notice to transfer large sums of money. Getting this ready in advance will help you, the buyer, to prepare for the day of exchange. It is normally recommended that you put your solicitor in funds, for the deposit, five working days before exchange.

Sign your contract

This is the exciting bit! When your solicitor is satisfied with everything they will send you a report and a contract to sign. It’s important to return this quickly. We often collect and hand deliver these for our clients to save on time, so please ask us if you need help with this.

Exchange and complete

Exchanging contracts is when you are legally bound to complete on an agreed date. At the point of exchanging contracts, the buyer’s solicitor will lodge a deposit of, normally, between 5% and 10% with the seller’s solicitor. Completion is when full funds have been paid to the seller’s solicitor – and at that point, keys can be released. The property is now yours to enjoy and make your own.

We have worked with many of the local law firms, if not all, over the last 30 years and currently work closely with McMillan Williams who are now one of the largest branch based law firms in the country. Neil Hayes, Regional Head of Property Law Division, Brighton, said: “This combination of size and local knowledge puts us in an unparalleled position to drive sales and purchases through proactively. Our local knowledge gives us insight in to what the problems actually are and our size gives us access to state of art information technology giving us the widest possible options to solve those problems. Identifying the issue, communicating these and resolving them quickly is the key to speeding up the conveyancing process.”

Here at Mishon Mackay, we make sure that buying or selling a home is as quick and as efficient as possible. If you’re stuck or not sure what to do next, our friendly staff are just a phone call or email away. Find your nearest office and get in touch.