How long does it take to buy a house?

If you’re wondering how long it takes to buy a house, you might be thinking about the time it takes to apply for a mortgage, the duration of escrow, the appraisal, and all the legal formalities. But before all this, the buyer has to make the decision to purchase. Considering that buying a house is usually the biggest financial outlay one makes in a lifetime, the million-dollar question is: how long does it take a potential buyer to decide to buy a house?

Given that in 2024 the average price of a house in Spain is about €240,000, it may be surprising to learn that the average buyer takes just 27 minutes to decide to buy after visiting a property (study conducted by Zoopla). That’s around €9,000 per minute! Compared to the time we take to buy an household appliance (59 minutes) or a sofa (88 minutes), it’s clear that the decision to buy our forever home is made more with the heart than with the head. So much so that half of the 2,000 buyers questioned admitted that they made an offer the same day they visited the property. And 45% confessed that they decided to make an offer as soon as they walked through the door!

It goes without saying that the first impression is paramount, in both positive and negative outcomes. Six out of ten people dismiss a property as soon as they walk through the door, according to a Foxtons study in 2022. So, what annoys potential buyers the most? According to 75% of respondents, their number one complaint is when property does not meet the expectations created by the listing. Here are the top 5 other reasons buyers decide against a purchase:

  • 5 – Dirty or chipped paint on the walls
  • 4 – The smell of smoke
  • 3 – Odd or poorly designed layout
  • 2 – Cracks in the walls
  • 1 – Obvious signs of damp

With all of this in mind, if you want to sell a property quickly and at the best price, you need to think about the first impression the property creates, both in photos and in person. Here are a few basic tips to make your house stand out from the rest:

“A clean home is a happy home”

In order for someone to make the decision that they want to buy a house or flat, they need to feel that they’re not just buying a property, but a home. And just as the saying states “a clean home is a happy home”, cleanliness is one of the keys to success when selling a house. Remove dust and dirt from all surfaces; clean the windows; hide rubbish bins and any clutter that does not have an aesthetic purpose (e.g., cleaning tools, laundry baskets, etc.); and invest in an electronic air freshener – our sense of smell is proven to be closely related to our emotions, and pleasant smells can increase the perception of quality.

Small fixes, big returns

Before going any further, it’s important to note that you should never hide significant problems that your property may have. According to Article 1484 of the Spanish Civil Code, “hidden defects” are the responsibility of the seller, and if not declared during the sale, they may be obliged to cover the costs of any repairs. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give your home a facelift! Fill holes or small cracks in the walls with putty and paint walls (and ceilings if necessary) with white or light paint. Avoid strong colours no matter how much you like them personally – the house has to appeal to a wide range of tastes. With neutral and light colours, you will have a better chance of appealing to the widest possible audience.

Depersonalise and declutter

Our homes are all full of the photos and keepsakes we accumulate over our lives. But when it comes to selling your house, it is advisable to start packing the moving boxes in advance, removing anything that makes your home personal to you. This will help potential buyers more easily visualise where they will put their own photos and belongings, making it a short leap to imagine themselves living in the house. And once they start imagining, the sale is almost guaranteed.

Set the stage

Your house is now house clean, fixed up, and cleared of clutter. The problem? If you’re not careful, you could end up with a collection of cold and uninspiring rooms. That’s why it is good to create little vignettes for the client, showing how they might enjoy daily life in their new home. A bottle of champagne with two glasses next to the master bed. A homemade loaf of bread, fresh out of the oven on the kitchen counter. A book and a cup of coffee next to a lounger on the terrace. Scented candles and fluffy white towels in the bathroom. When the buyer enters the house, they will feel that everything is ready for them to start their new dream life.

These are just a few tips to help potential buyers fall in love with your property, and most of them are simple things that anyone can do. However, the aspirational marketing of the property to maximise the chance of a quick sale at the best price, is best left in the hands of a professional home stager. Based on a national survey conducted by the Spanish Home Staging Association (AHSE), properties that have had a Home Staging service sell seven times faster than the national average. Sale prices are also improved, with 48% of homes selling at the asking price, and the remaining 52% selling at up to 25% above the original price. Given the relatively low initial investment (the average cost of home staging projects is 0.86% of the average sale price), home staging can prove to be a very profitable investment considering the potential gain.

The average time it takes to sell a property in Spain is almost a year, but the buyer decides in less than half an hour. The market is saturated with houses and flats, and behind each one, there are sellers who want to sell at the best price and as quickly as possible. To stand out from the crowd and beat the market, you have to create the perfect first impression. Because if you don’t sell in 27 minutes, chances are you won’t sell at all.