How Long Does it Take to Sell a House in South West London?


For most sellers, speed is of the essence. Maybe you need to find a buyer quickly so your own offer will be accepted on a dream home, or you have another pressing deadline, like a job or school application. Whatever the reason, the question of how long it will take to sell your home is an understandable concern.

If you’re hoping for a quick and easy house sale in south west London, you have one big advantage – the area’s desirability. Whether you are selling in Balham, Clapham, Wandsworth, Tooting Bec or Battersea, there is a higher demand for properties than the UK average.

These lovely neighbourhoods, with a great range of shops and cafes, good state and independent schools (the Northcote Road is not called Nappy Valley for nothing) and the commons with their endless green space, mean people will always be drawn to the area.

If you’re wondering how much your south west London home might sell for, according to Rightmove, the average was just over £1,036,000 over the last year. Flats averaged £719,000, terraced properties £1,387,000, and semis close to £1.7 million. Overall, this was a 3% rise on the previous year and 8% up on the 2020 peak.

However, in 2023, average house prices have started to fall in many areas, with greater caution shown by buyers amidst the cost of living crisis and increasing interest rates.

There are two deadlines to consider when considering how long it will take to sell your home – the time your property is on the market before it sells and the time it takes to get from offer to completion.

The time to find a buyer will depend on the current property market, location and the condition of your home. The second deadline depends on various factors, from how many people are in your chain to how long your conveyancer takes.

Based on our experience of helping sellers in south west London, we answer some of the questions we get asked about the things that make or break a quick sale.

What is the average number of days to sell a home in south-west London?

The entire end-to-end home selling process will usually be between 18-34 weeks, from listing the property to the completion. According to recent data from Zoopla, the average home takes 185 days on the market to sell.

As well as the time taken to find a buyer, many steps are involved in the sale process, from the initial advertising of the property to conducting the searches and survey, drawing up the legal paperwork and the completion arrangements.

There will be lots of factors that impact the length of each selling stage. Such factors include whether it is a sellers’ market, how effective the property marketing is and how efficient the agents, conveyancers and solicitors are.

As a guide, these are the average home selling times for each stage:

Listing to offer    6 to 14 weeks 
Offer to exchange   12 to 16 weeks 
Exchange to complete   1 to 28 days 
Total   18 – 34 weeks 

How long does it take to find a buyer?

How hot or cold the housing market is will significantly impact how long it takes to sell a home. The time to find a buyer in the UK is usually quoted as between five and 14 weeks.

The UK housing market has recently slowed down due to the current financial crisis and higher mortgage interest rates. According to Rightmove, the average time to find a buyer in 2022 was 33 days on the market, compared to a current figure of 55 days, although the most desirable homes sell after just a few days on the market.

On average, properties will receive an offer after ten viewings, so unless your property is a highly sought-after type of property or in a desirable area where properties are rarely sold, you can expect to have numerous viewings before you receive an offer.

How long does it take to exchange contracts once an offer is accepted?

Under normal market conditions, the average time to get a sale from offer to exchange is a little over two months. Once an offer has been accepted, the buyer will instruct their solicitor to start the conveyancing process, including organising a survey and searching the property.

This time will depend on how quickly the solicitor/conveyancing search provider works and whether any issues arise through the survey or any of the searches.

How long does it take between the exchange of contracts to completion?

Buyers and sellers agree on a completion date at the exchange of contracts. This is usually two weeks later, but the period can be reduced if you need a speedy sale. It can sometimes be longer, especially in more complex property chains.

During the period between contract exchange and completion, the buyer’s and seller’s solicitors will have many tasks to complete, such as exchanging 10% of the deposit from buyer to seller at contract exchange and then receiving completion monies, as well as settling any mortgages. In very fast home sales, people can exchange and complete on the same day, but this is not the norm.

How long will it take to sell my house with no chain?

If you’re selling and going into rented accommodation and your purchaser is a first-time buyer or without a place to sell, expect your sale to progress much faster – more so if you have a cash buyer who doesn’t need to get a mortgage offer.

For a chain-free buyer with a mortgage, your sale could go through in 10 weeks – or as little as four weeks for a cash buyer with a fast conveyancer. We’ve even seen cases of a two-week window, though usually where property professionals are the buyers.

What will affect how long it takes to sell?

Many factors can affect the time it takes to sell your house. One of the most significant is the house price. If an estate agent advises a seller to ask for a higher price than the property’s true value, it may take longer to find a buyer.

How hot or cold the market is will also significantly impact how long it takes to sell a home. The property market has slowed down recently, partly due to higher mortgage interest rates, increasing the average number of days to sell.

The efficiency of your solicitors and estate agents will also influence the time it takes to sell your home. If you choose a solicitor or estate agent that is not very proactive, the whole process will be slower. A good quality solicitor will push actions through to progress the home sale faster. Some delaying factors will be out of your control, such as if your buyer’s solicitor is inefficient.

Another factor that will impact the length of time it takes to sell your house is the position that the buyer is in. If they are selling another property, your house sale will depend on their house sale going smoothly. The longer the chain you are in, the more chance of a delay.

How can I speed up the sale process?

You can’t always control factors such as the state of the market, what happens in your chain or how quick your buyer is at moving things along, but there are some things you can do to speed up a sale:

1. Choose your estate agent wisely

You need to choose a proactive estate agent who is a good communicator with extensive experience and knowledge of the local market.

2. Choose a reputable conveyancer

The conveyancer has a big role to play in the processes involved in selling your home, so make sure you choose one that has a strong reputation. Read reviews and get recommendations; you need someone you can rely on to keep the home selling process moving.

3. Price your home realistically

Overpricing your home could mean it takes longer to sell, or a buyer could potentially gazunder you (reduce their original offer before the legally binding exchange of contracts takes place). Your estate agent should have an expert understanding of the market to advise you on the right price to put your home on the market for.

4. Prepare your home for the sale

Put in the work to get the home ready to sell, and make sure it’s in pristine condition with neutral décor and no clutter. The more appealing you make your home, the more likely you will receive an offer from one of your first viewings and the higher your chance of a successful sale.

5. Prioritise chain-free buyers

If you receive multiple offers, you should prioritise chain-free buyers when accepting an offer, as your home sale will not rely on the buyer selling a home. Cash buyers are the ideal type of buyer, as they are not waiting for mortgage approval.

6. Get organised

If you plan ahead and get organised with gathering paperwork, choosing a conveyancer and getting your mortgage in place (if you require one), then this will help to progress the sale quicker.

7. Swift communications

Make sure you are available to take calls from your estate agent and conveyancer and return any missed calls immediately. Keep checking your email inbox incase you receive a query or need to take action.

What could delay a house sale?

All sorts of things can delay the sale, from a conveyancer with a busy workload to an issue with the roof that comes up in the survey. You can’t always control these delays, especially if they happen further up the chain.

These are some of the most common causes of delays when selling a house:

Slow conveyancer

If your conveyancer is very busy or inefficient, this could slow down your home sale. The conveyancer is responsible for ensuring all the actions involved in the house selling process are completed swiftly, so a bad service from a conveyancer could significantly delay the time it takes to sell.

Delays with searches

Getting the searches back can also take a long time, especially if the conveyancer uses a search company who is not providing a quick turnaround. There may also be some issues with the searches that require further enquiries.

Issues with survey

A significant issue with the home inspection survey could lead to the sale collapsing, or there could be a delay while the issue is rectified. For example, if the home inspection survey reveals a problem such as roof damage, the buyer may instruct their solicitor to get the seller to arrange for it to be fixed before the exchange of contracts.

Delays arranging a mortgage

If the buyer requires a mortgage loan to purchase the property, obtaining a mortgage could delay the sale. Lenders’ service levels and underwriting processes vary and will impact how long a mortgage application takes. The mortgage lender will instruct a surveyor to value the property, and the surveyor’s availability will affect the time it takes for your buyers to secure a mortgage. Your buyers personal circumstances could also delay their mortgage application. For instance, if they are newly self-employed or have a history of credit issues.

If the property is leasehold

Selling a leasehold property involves slightly more work than selling a freehold house, as the leasehold company will need to be contacted to transfer the lease into the name of the new owner.

Length of property chain

The longer the property chain, the more chances there are of something not going to plan with one of the property sales. A delay further up the chain will have a ripple effect on the other properties in the chain.

Which months are best for quick sales?

Spring and early summer are always considered the best times to sell when light nights bring more buyers out for viewings. Early autumn is traditionally good, too, with August, November and December considered the worst.

Buyers tend to prefer to wait until after the Christmas holidays before they start looking for a new home, and many people will be looking for a fresh new start at the beginning of a new year, including plans to buy a home.

School holidays are also a time of year when families are away or too busy to fit in a house move, so the best time to sell is often just after the summer holidays, as there are usually more buyers looking for houses in September and October.

How long do I need to live in a house before selling it?

There is no legal reason why you can’t decide to sell soon after you buy a home. However, you will face a hefty stamp duty bill for buying and selling in quick succession, plus many other costs too. Buyers may wonder why the home is on the market so soon. You may also find it hard to get a mortgage less than a year after your previous loan was granted.

If you’re considering putting your south west London home on the market, talk to us. We will work with you to develop the marketing strategy to help you find the right buyer for today’s market.