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Painfully slow house buying process may hit transaction volumes - Rightmove

Rightmove is predicting some 1.1m residential transactions this year - but it says the glacial pace of house buying in the UK may deter some vendors and purchasers.

The portal says the average time between agreeing a sale and legal completion is a painful five months, or 154 days.

In total, it is taking over seven months on average from a seller coming to market to completing their move, meaning that as early as it may seem, would-be sellers hoping to celebrate Christmas in a new home need to be coming to the market about now.
The sluggish completion process in England is something that parliament is reviewing as part of its inquiry into improving the home buying and selling process.


Rightmove says that when compared with international markets, England’s average completion times are significantly slower, highlighting the substantial room for improvement.

“The creation of a more seamless process, which includes providing more accurate information about a home earlier to potential buyers, and better connecting the parties involved in the transacting process through technology, are two areas of improvement that Rightmove suggests would be most beneficial to movers” it say in a statement.

One strategy that Rightmove’s market-leading data has identified as providing sellers with the edge to speed up a sale, is to work with an estate agent to price competitively from the outset of marketing and avoid the need to reduce the asking price after coming to market.

It takes on average 32 day for a sale to be agreed for a property that is priced right from the outset, less than a third of the 112 days that it takes if the home requires an asking price reduction before it has found a buyer.
A Rightmove spokesperson says: “We expect that the improved market activity levels and conditions this year will result in higher transaction numbers at the end of 2024 than last year. However, the extremely lengthy legal completion process is a frustrating barrier to home-movers converting agreed sales into completed transactions more quickly.”

Meanwhile the latest Rightmove asking price index shows that the average price of property coming to the market for sale in mid-May has hit a new record of £375,131, rising by 0.8% (+£2,807) in the month.

The market remains price-sensitive with average asking prices just 0.6% higher than a year ago.

The number of sales being agreed during the first four months of the year is 17% higher than last year, outstripping the 12% increase in the number of new sellers coming to market.


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