When you exchange contracts, what actually happens? Well when you exchange contracts you pay a deposit, and a completion date is set. This means that the transaction is now legally binding and therefore you can't back out at this point (and neither can the other party).
The exchange can happen on the same day as the completion, or it can be after, but it is not normally that long after - typically within 10 days of exchange the completion will occur, after all there is not really a reason to hang about after the process is legally binding and the deposit has been paid.
Once completion takes place there is the final paperwork to sort out and then... your first home is yours! Congratulations!
So how long should one expect the whole process to take, from putting in the offer to getting the keys to the property? Well it varies based on several factors, of course, and things such as chains can get complicated if one part of the chain falls through, so we can only talk in averages.
And, on average, you would probably expect the sale process to take around two to three months to go through all the steps that it needs to. So it is far from an instant process (compared to something such as buying a property at auction where you will typically need to stump up cash very quickly upon purchasing a lot at auction).
If you have your part of the process all sorted and are waiting on some other part of the chain to move, then it can be quite frustrating and you may get impatient, but there is little you can do, so just be philosophical about it and accept that is simply part of the house-buying process. Of course, if the shoe is on the other foot and you feel that you are being pressured into speeding up by the vendor or their estate agent, then don't be afraid to push back and ensure that things proceed at a pace you are comfortable with!
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