How Long Does It Take to Buy a Home?

The question of how long it takes to buy a house can vary significantly. It truly depends on your personal situation and what type of features are on your list of must-haves. It may take far more time for one person than the next, which is part of why the question of renting vs. buying stays fresh in many people’s minds. However, there are a few general considerations to make that can impact the timeline for every potential buyer. You should expect it to take a few months at the very least due to all that’s involved.

Start With the Preapproval Process

The first thing you need to do is speak with a bank or lender and get preapproved. This process shouldn’t take long. You’ll often be able to receive your quote in just a day or two, as long as you come prepared with the right paperwork. To get preapproved, the bank will want to see:

  • Your latest paystubs
  • Your latest bank statements
  • Your W-2s or other tax documents

They will check your credit score and compare your debt to your income before offering an amount they’d be willing to lend you. You will then receive a letter indicating that number that you can show sellers to prove you’re serious about making an offer.

Research Neighborhoods

You’ll, of course, want to research neighborhoods in the area as well. That is if you don’t already have a set plan for where you want to live. This can take anywhere between one day and several weeks or longer if you’re indecisive or having a hard time narrowing down your choices. 

Consider your work commute in relation to where you’ll be living. Consider whether you’ll have kids and if you need to consider daycares, schools, and playgrounds. Would you be okay living next to a high-traffic area, or do you prefer somewhere more remote? 

Considering all these factors can help you pinpoint the area you want to live in. Or let you see that you’re really able to live virtually anywhere in a particular city, and therefore have more choices of homes.

Choose Your Real Estate Agent

Choosing the right real estate agent can take an equal amount of time. Don’t search the internet for agents in your area and simply select the first one. Ask around. Check out reviews. See if the agent has connections to homes within the area you’re looking or if they have any special skills or qualifications you could utilize. Don’t settle for just anyone. 

View Homes

The question of how long does it take to buy a house varies the most when you’re ready for viewings. You could immediately fall in love with the first home and make an offer on the spot without any need to see anything else. Generally speaking, that isn’t how it ends up working out, though. 

Typically, you’ll spend months viewing various homes and trying to find the one that speaks the most to you. You want a house that fits all of your criteria. 

Make an Offer

When you finally feel you’ve landed on the right place, it’s time to make an offer. Your real estate agent may draft an offer letter on your behalf and give it to the sellers or their representative. They can accept the terms as is or make a counter offer with the details they want included. This process can take days or weeks. 

Wait for the Escrow Period

The escrow period typically lasts a month or two. Within this time, you need to deposit the agreed upon amount for your good faith payment and ensure all documents are handled. The escrow agent verifies the home’s details, such as proof of ownership, if there are any liens against the home or problems with the title. Escrow does not close until after the final closing details get handled and you, as the buyer, get the deed to the home placed in your name. 

Have an Inspection Performed

A home inspection is necessary after you’ve made a purchase agreement. The lender wants to know that the home is worthwhile buying and that unexpected problems won’t delay the purchase. Identifying safety issues and major concerns is the focus during this inspection. You may ask that the sellers handle certain repairs before you buy if anything of considerable significance gets noted. Expect this to cost up to $450.  

An appraisal is also needed if you’re taking out a mortgage. The appraiser will determine if the home’s value is truly worth what the mortgage company is about to lend you for it. If it isn’t, you may need to pay a little more than you’d like out of pocket to complete the sale. 

Complete a Final Walkthrough and Closing

You will often be permitted to take a final walkthrough of the home. Make sure this is truly the right decision for you. The walkthrough typically takes place one day before the closing. Once everything appears in order, and you’re ready for the sale to be complete, you will need to sign all of the final paperwork. You will then officially be the new owner of the home you’ve been waiting on. 

Once you know the answer to the question “how long does it take to buy a house?” you can get started right away on the process. Reach out to Offercity if you have any questions regarding the home buying process or selling in the future. We’re here to help.

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