How long does it take to buy a house? A lot depends on how much time you spend shopping for one. But once you have a contract, it takes an average of 4 months to close on a house. There are a lot of steps to buying a house, and any of them could drag out the timeline, especially if you’re not prepared. The timeline is important for a variety of reasons. especially if you have a rental lease or if you need to settle before the start of school. And if you now own a home you may need to close on the sale of that home before you can settle on the new home. If problems pop up with home inspection, appraisal, mortgage, or a number of other things the buying process could even be longer than 4 months. It helps illuminate what’s going on, here is a rundown of the various stages you would encounter while home shopping to help you plan your buying timeline.
Do Your Homework
It’s mighty disappointing to fall in love with a house only to find out you can’t afford it. A quick chat with your bank can help you avoid that heartbreak — it’s called pre-qualifying. But it’s no guarantee you’ll get a mortgage (that comes later), only an indication of how much you can afford. So your first step should be to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting pre-approved for loan signals you’re a serious buyer. Most agents recommend you have a pre-approval in hand before you make an offer, and they can offer recommendations for lenders. But pre-approval goes deeper than pre-qualification. It needs a ton of documents from you. A couple of tips to help make this a speedier process: Get all your documents for mortgage pre-approval organized and ready to go. And compare rates from lenders within a 14-day window: Credit bureaus will count all their checks as just one.
A few days or a few months: Here’s where things really vary. There are so many variables. If you’re set on a particular neighborhood where the inventory is low, it could take longer… or you could discover “the one” on day one. It all depends on what you’re seeking and what’s available. But the typical buyer actively searches for 10 to 12 weeks and looks at a median of 10 homes. But any good real estate agent will tell you that it is time well spent. The last thing your want is to feel rushed to make a decision that your will regret.
Make an Offer, Negotiate, and Sign a Contract
Work with your agent on price, contingencies, and other terms of the deal. A couple of tips to help make this step proceed smoothly:
- Include the pre-approval letter from your lender in the offer, and put down earnest money. (Commit 3% to 4% of the sale price instead of the standard 1% to 3%, and you might really put a fire under them.)
- If you receive a counteroffer, respond ASAP. You don’t want to give another buyer time to jump in with a better offer.
Close on the House
Each step after you’ve got a contract on a home is part of the closing process. And that process — which includes getting the loan, inspection, appraisal, title, insurance, etc. — takes the average home buyer about six weeks. You can see why getting preapproval early is so important for the buying process. In fact, securing a loan is the most common holdup in buying a house. Closing is not a time to rush, You and your agent will want to make sure to do everything right. Do your investigation to make sure the house isn’t hiding some glaring flaws you will regret inheriting. Check the home seller disclosure statements for any problems and depend on a good home inspection. When it’s time for the main event, bring your photo ID, and stretch your hand muscles; you’ve got a lot of signing to do! But getting the keys? Takes hardly any time at all.
Tom has 20+ years experience in helping his clients buy and sell properties. Tom is also great resource for trusted vendors that can help assess and fix a property before buying or selling it.
About Tom Reese
Helping my clients attain their dreams has been the foundation of my success. With my strong attention to customer service, I have earned my clients continued support and referrals. Put my enthusiasm and dedication to work for you!
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