Have you ever wondered how long does it take to buy a house? Everyone’s path to homeownership is unique. The road may sometimes be straight and smooth, while at other times, it can curve, take a detour, or include unexpected potholes and obstacles. That’s why no two house-purchasing journeys are the same, and neither are their deadlines.
This unpredictability can be a major point of stress for first-time home buyers. Buying a house is far more than a financial transaction – it’s a deeply personal process of finding and creating a home for yourself and your family, so it’s reasonable to want to understand the process before diving in. This includes understanding how long it might take to buy a house.
So exactly how long does it take to buy a house? Keep reading for a step-by-step breakdown.
Average Length Of Time To Buy A House
According to a data firm that processes mortgage applications, the average time to close on a mortgage was 51 days in June 2021.
Although you may be able to close on a house in as little as a month, finding a property you desire and getting your offer accepted is far more time-consuming. This is because everyone’s house search will differ based on their unique desires and requirements.
What To Consider Before Buying A Home
Before you do anything to acquire a home, make sure you’re financially ready for it. And unless you intend to acquire a property using cash, being financially prepared entails more than saving for a down payment and closing costs; it also includes ensuring you can obtain the financing required.
Your credit and financial history will determine whether you can get a mortgage and how much the interest rate will be. Make sure to review your credit information and, if necessary, work on building your score. It’s also crucial to think about non-financial aspects that might influence your house search, such as the neighborhoods you’d want to live in and the most suitable home for your needs.
Step-By-Step Home Buying Timeline
Many things affect how long the home-buying process will take. These things include how prepared the buyer is, how competitive the market is, and how many houses are available for sale. If the market is very competitive, it might take longer for a buyer to find a house they want to buy. And if there are not many houses available for sale, buyers will also take longer to find a house.
Even so, understanding the procedures involved in purchasing a home may help you be better prepared to move quickly when the time comes, so let’s look at the most important stages that will influence your purchase!
Step 1: Choose A Mortgage Lender And Get Preapproved (1 – 5 Days)
Unless you’re one of the fortunate few who can make an all-cash home offer, you’ll probably need a mortgage to fund your house purchase. Comparing shops for the best mortgage provider is critical to ensure you get the best possible deal on your house loan.
Finding the appropriate lender might take a day or two if you set aside a few hours. A little study and a couple of phone calls can help you understand your alternatives. Consider interest rates and estimated closing expenses when selecting a lender, but don’t undervalue the company’s reputation. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
When you have chosen a good lender, you should get a mortgage pre-approval. This is something that will help you understand how much home you can afford. It will also show the sellers you are serious about buying the home. In a competitive market, this can be very helpful.
To get a mortgage, you will need to prove that you can afford it. Lenders will want to see your credit report and ensure you have enough income and assets. This means you should have documents like your tax returns, pay stubs, and other papers ready so the process can go faster. Depending on the lender, preapproval might take 1 to 5 days.
Step 2: Find A Real Estate Agent (1 – 7 Days)
There are many different ways to find a real estate agent. You can look online or get a referral from a friend or family member. It is important to choose an agent who is licensed and understands the local market. But you must also choose someone you can trust to put your needs first.
When it comes time to purchase a home, two agents are usually involved in the process. The buyer’s agent represents the person who is buying the house. This agent helps find a home, make an offer, and negotiate with the seller.
You want to pick your real estate agent carefully since they will be your champion throughout the house-buying process, so don’t hesitate to ask questions. Here are some questions that might help you locate the finest real estate agent or REALTOR®:
- How long have you been working in real estate?
- What makes you different from other agents?
- Can you work with my schedule?
- How much do you charge?
- Do you have references?
- Who will I be working with, you or your team?
- How will I be able to contact you?
- What is the market like in the area I’m looking in?
It will take some time to find an agent. This will depend on personal factors, such as whether the agent was recommended by a friend. If you are scared during home-buying, you may take extra time to find an agent you feel comfortable working with.
Step 3: Start House Hunting (6 Months – 1 Year)
You’re ready to start looking for a new home. But first, take some time to think about what you want. What kind of location do you want? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? These are important questions to answer before you start your search. That way, you can focus on finding houses that fit your needs. Finding the right property is a very important step in the home-buying process. Before you start looking, you need to know what you are looking for and what you need. This will help you find a house faster.
There is no one answer to how long it will take to find a new home. Several factors, such as:
- The market: In a buyer’s market, more homes are for sale than people who want to buy homes. This means that it may be easier for you to find a home. But in a competitive seller’s market, more people want to buy homes than homes available. This means you may take longer to find the home you want.
- The location: If you are looking for a home in a popular location, it can take a while to find the right one. And if the average sales price is more than you can afford, you might have to wait until a home within your budget comes up for sale.
- Your criteria: If you have a long list of things you want in your future home, finding it may take longer. The more specific and flexible you are, the more you limit your search. But on the other hand, if you don’t know what you want, it may be hard to find and commit to a home that makes you happy.
- Your schedule: If you’re busy and can only visit showings on the weekends, finding a home may take longer since you have less time to look for one.
Step 4: Make An Offer (1 – 3 Days)
Once you find a house you want to buy, work with your real estate agent to make an offer on the home. At this stage, your agent will run a comparative market analysis to determine a fair purchase price based on recent sales of similar homes in the area – but they’ll also want your input on any other elements you want
A seller may have a time limit to consider your offer and respond in some jurisdictions; however, sellers will usually respond within three days. The seller can accept the offer, reject it, or make a counteroffer, which would restart negotiations. However, because negotiations begin at once, they seldom last longer than a few days. Remember that if other offers are on the table, the seller may not even entertain your offer until you’ve raised the ante by making a higher bid.
Step 5: Secure Your Mortgage Loan (30 – 60 Days)
Even if you have a loan preapproval, your mortgage lender will underwrite your loan in a certain amount of time. Mortgage underwriting evaluates and verifies your financial information, including income, assets, obligations, and property-related data. This happens while other things are going on, such as the house inspection,
After you’ve signed a purchase agreement, you’ll fill out a loan application with information about the house you wish to buy. You’ll play an important part in this process by providing information to assist it in going smoothly; however, the lender does the underwriting. You may be asked to submit the following documents:
- Income tax documents from the last two years
- Bank statements from the past 30 – 60 days
- W-2s, recent pay stubs, or other documents that verify your employment
- Gift letters and letters of explanation for large deposits
- Legal documents of court-ordered debts, like child support or alimony
The underwriting process might take a few days to weeks, and you can significantly impact how long it takes. We recommend preparing your papers in advance, responding promptly to all queries and demands, and avoiding any new borrowing throughout the process to speed up the procedure and avoid any snags.
Step 7: Schedule A Home Inspection (3 – 10 Days)
An appraisal is a calculation of how much your home is worth. A home inspection is a detailed look at the property to see if any problems need to be fixed. Inspections aren’t always required by the lender, but it’s a good idea to have one before you close on your new home. Inspections can reveal warning signals indicating a problem that would worsen if left unchecked.
The home inspection can also help you understand the inner workings of your new house, so we recommend scheduling one and asking questions as needed. Home inspections generally take a few days to complete and are completed within a few hours. After that, the inspector will need to generate a report, which may take up, on average, from one to several days, depending on the
Inspectors may discover various things during their inspections, and you could need to return to the negotiating table and rework the deal. If there are significant problems with the property that must be addressed before closing, you might want to accept an incentive from the seller for them to repair them. These talks can extend your purchase timeline by several weeks.
Step 8: Do A Final Walkthrough (1 Day)
The last walkthrough, the final chance for purchasers to see a home before closing, is an important last stage in house buying. By this point, you may believe you know all there is to know about your new abode, but it’s crucial to go over everything again since
If you want repairs as part of the condition of the sale, be sure the seller completed them before you sign your closing papers.
Step 9: Close On Your Home (7 – 14 Days)
You may not realize it, but there are several things happening as you get closer to your closing date. Some of these things will involve you, while others will be done by a few teams who work behind the scenes.
The title company will search to ensure nobody else owns the property you are buying. You will have to buy homeowners insurance to protect your new investment. The lender will also write up a disclosure explaining the loan terms.
The Closing Disclosure is the final document you’ll receive before closing your mortgage. It will outline the final terms of your loan, including its interest rate and what you owe in closing costs, such as escrow fees, title fees, property taxes, and lender commissions for processing the transaction. Depending on your location, closing costs can range from 3% to 6% of the purchase price. The cost will be determined by the loan amount and the tax requirements in your area.
Your mortgage lender is required by law to provide you with at least three business days to read your Closing Disclosure, at which time they will schedule a closing meeting. You’ll sign your loan papers, pay your down payment and closing costs, and get the keys to your new home during the closing meeting. You’ve made it! Congratulations on becoming a homeowner.
In conclusion, the journey to homeownership is a complex and unique experience for everyone. Navigating through the multiple stages of the process, such as mortgage pre-approval, house hunting, and closing, requires patience, diligence, and a good understanding of each step.
You can successfully navigate the challenges of buying a house by being financially prepared, working closely with a trustworthy real estate agent, and staying informed throughout the process.
Ultimately, the time and effort invested will be rewarded when you unlock the door to your new home, marking the beginning of a new chapter in your life.