How Long Does It Take To Exchange Contracts

Buying a property involves a lot of legalities that both buyer and seller must comply with. One of these is referred to as the “Exchange Contracts.” When you make an offer for a property you want to buy, and it is accepted by the seller, there are documentations and steps to complete before the property is transferred to you. 

Keep in mind that there will be no guarantees until these contracts have been exchanged. Both buyers or sellers can still get out of this deal without paying serious costs. But how long does it really take to exchange contracts and have the keys handed over by the seller?  The standard length for the completion of the contract exchange between the buyer and the seller often takes about two weeks. But this period can still vary so, but if you are not yet prepared to move, you can always ask for an extension. Here is a guide on what happens after your offer is accepted.


Before Exchanging Contracts

Before you go ahead and sign anything, remember that exchanging contracts is legally binding. Assume everything that is in the contract and make sure that you understand provisions therein.  

Ideally, all the searches should be complete and you have presented in writing your mortgage offer. Look back on your funds and ensure their availability for the mortgage deposit. Discuss with the seller on an agreeable completion of the date for sale. If you can, review the contract that your solicitor will send before you sign and return it. In case there is something that you don’t understand, ask your lawyer to explain these terms or conditions for you. 

Likewise, have open communication with your solicitor to avoid any delays in the processing of the documents. Review and ensure that the right details are included such as fittings, HVAC, and others - it should all be placed in writing.  Also, check if there are holding deposits that the seller requires - and if you have funds for this. 

In case the seller pulls out before the exchange contract is completed, you have no legal rights to recover any costs, but you can take out indemnity insurance for your wasted costs. Ask assistance from your solicitor if this happens. And if the seller tries to renegotiate the acceptance price during this period, seek your solicitor’s assistance with the negotiations. 

Then, organize building insurance to ensure that it is valid from the date of your exchange. 


During Exchanging Contracts

At this period, the solicitors will simultaneously read the contracts in a recorded conversation over the phone. This is done to ensure that the contracts shared by the buyer and seller are one and the same, then this will be posted to each other. And when the contracts are exchanged, and you are now legally tied to purchase the property. 

If the property is on a leasehold, you can now inform the freeholder that you are the new owner of the property. It is also your responsibility to check with the solicitor if the transfer and registration of ownership have been done with the land registry. 

If the property is a share of freehold purchase, your solicitor will order a new share certificate issued to you. 


Completion Date of the Exchange Contracts

Once the contracts are exchanged, you are now allowed to move into the property. The estate agent will let you know that the keys are now available. And on the completion day, your lawyer will then arrange for the money to be transferred to the seller’s lawyers. 

On the date of exchange completion, the seller and buyer chain is ideally completed on the same day. If not, you will have to wait for the seller to complete their purchase of a new property before you can move into the property you bought from them. And in case you have purchased a freehold, check how you can register your name on the company.


How Long Does It Take to Complete the Exchange and Completion?

The average time to completion in an exchange of contracts is between eight to twelve weeks. On the other hand, part exchange is quicker because there is no chain in it.

The time is normally up to the buyer and the seller, and it can still be delayed by various factors involved. For instance, the buyer may ask an extension if they are also waiting for the exchange of the house they purchased before you move out. The best you can do at this point of waiting is to prepare everything for the big move.  


Preparing to Move in After the Completion

After months of searching and going through the ordeal of purchasing, you might be keen to move into your newly purchased home. Avoid leaving gaps and ensure a smooth transition by planning and preparing for your move in.

If you have plenty of stuff, arrange post forwarding. Let everyone know that you have changed your address. From your banks, mobile phone company, utility providers, pension company, driving licence as well as your work.  

Start to register with the utility company on where you will move in. Seek out water suppliers, broadband suppliers, and others that you might need. Check the energy meters, or the stopcock and ask about other essential information about the property from the seller. Also, if they are leaving electrical items, ask for the manuals.

Collect the keys, arrange your stuff and clean your property before the removal firm arrives to collect the items that need moving. Keep valuable items like jewelry, gadgets, and others with you. Make sure you have a box of essentials for your first day to include items that you will use such as mugs, kettles, toiletries, and others. 



When you find the property that you want and your offer to purchase it is accepted, you become more eager and excited to move in. However, you should know that there is a process that needs to be completed before you can finally call it your own and bring your things and family there. Know more about exchange contracts so that you understand what is expected during this period of waiting and how you can prepare and plan for your smooth transition.