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Estimated timeline for first-time buyers

The clock is ticking towards moving-in day. Here's a rough guide to the moving timeline – remember, the whole process can take anything from eight weeks to eight months – and there's advice here on how to prep for the move itself.

Around 8-12 weeks before you move: Once your bid has been accepted on a property and you have instructed your conveyancing solicitor through Homeward Legal, the next step is to order a building survey of your prospective new home. The survey will identify if there are any faults or issues with the property – check out the guide to which survey you need on our sister site, Surveyor Local.

8 weeks before: Ensure your mortgage application is under way with no hitches. Keep in regular touch with your mortgage broker or direct with the lender if you're managing the application yourself. Many lenders will give you an offer in principle that is only valid for 90 days so if there's going to be a delay in exchanging contracts, stay on top of things in case you need to start from scratch.

4 weeks before: At this stage, you will know you are happy with the survey, you will have negotiated any differences in the price with the seller and your solicitor will be ready to exchange contracts with the seller's solicitor. At this point you need to be ready to transfer your deposit to your solicitor. Once done and the contracts have been signed, you cannot back out of the deal. Before you sign anything, get a confirmed date for completion so you can plan your move.

3 weeks before: Get quotes from removal firms or, if you're going to do the move yourself, book a van that will carry all you need - if it's bigger than a transit, consider your route; you don't want to crash into any low brides. Most sales transactions complete on a Friday, but any hitch might leave you in limbo over a weekend. Plan for a midweek move where possible, even better if you can get the keys one day, then do the actual move the next.

2 weeks: Shop around for house and buildings insurance. Start packing your belongings ready for the move. Many removal firms will provide you with packing boxes to keep your items safe.

1 week: Find out who is supplying the utilities – gas, electricity, telephone and water – to your new place, then contact those suppliers to arrange the switchover to you. Arrange to have your mail redirected to your new home and draft a change of address letter that you can send to everyone who needs to know you’ve moved.

Completion/moving day: Today your solicitor will transfer the money to buy your new place to the seller’s solicitor. This is known as completion and is likely to take place around midday. Once the transaction has been completed, you are the owner of your own home. And once you get the keys, it's time to move in.

If you're a first-time buyer, check out Homeward Legal's comprehensive First-Time Buyers' Hub where all your questions about purchasing for the very first time are covered in detail.​

Free Guides for First Time Buyers

Homeward Legal has put together some handy guides to help you with your first property purchase. Let us know if there is anything we've missed, and as ever, feel free to call 0800 038 6699

Whose advice can you count on
Step-by-step guide to buying
Essential checklist for moving as a first-time buyer
10 things to know when you view a property