How Long Does It Take To Buy A House in 2020?
Buying a house is the American dream that most people start saving for not long after they graduate. How long does it take to buy a house? Looking for the perfect place to call a house can take anywhere from a day to several years. That is mainly due to personal taste, logistics, and finding a house up for sale that matches your requirements. The real timeline of buying a house starts from when you have your dream location picked out, and you are ready to make an offer.
There are several steps in the house buying process; a few are more complicated than others. So if you are curious about how long it takes to buy a house, we will break down the timeline to answer.
Creating A House Buying Plan
Time to complete: 3-10 days
Knowing you want to buy a house and turning your desire into a reality are two different things. It is essential to do your research before you start looking for a property. Documenting your process will help you stay on track and stay on budget when looking for a new house. Write down how much you can afford to pay each month, how much you plan to provide as a down payment, and what amenities you must have in your new house. If you really like that beautiful house with a pool, but having trouble with saving money, here is a great article on how to save up money for a house.
The last thing you want to do is find the perfect house close to your workplace or your kid’s school to realize it out of your budget. Additionally, you need to factor in commuting and other amenities when sorting out your account. Getting a cheaper house won’t be such a bargain if you end up paying that all back in transportation cost or HOA fees.
How much of a loan are you likely to be approved? Getting a pre-qualification letter from your bank is the best way to get a general idea.
Hire A Real Estate Agent
Time to complete: 3-5 days
Hiring the right real estate agent is critical to your house buying process. They are the ones that will hold the key to your dreams, so choose with care. It is essential to find a real estate agent licensed in the state where you plan to purchase your house. Otherwise, the process may take longer to complete. They should listen to your wants and needs and help you find a house that meets your expectations. Opt for an agent that has been in the business for several years. He is knowledgeable about the houses in this particular area. They should fight to get you the best deal possible and help you walk away from a bad deal if you happen to come across one.
Secure a Loan Pre-Approval
Time to complete: 3-8 days
Securing a pre-approval for a mortgage loan lets your agent and those listing their homes know you are serious about making an offer. If you don’t have a pre-approval already, your real estate agent can suggest some reliable lenders or mortgage companies who can help you. A pre-approval is much different than a pre-qualification. You will need to submit your income statements, credit report, and other documents for the process to move forward. Ask your agent or the mortgage brokerage for a list of documents you will need to submit. That will make your appointment and approval more efficient. Check the rates from a couple of different lenders to see who has the best offer. Just check them all within the same two weeks, so the credit inquires will all be counted as one on your credit report.
Find Your Dream House
Time to complete: Varies
We suggest looking for your dream house or at least deciding which neighborhood you want to live in well before you start the house buying process. A lot of variables can make searching for a house take a very long time. Most new house searches take anywhere from 10 weeks to a year before settling on “the one”.
Make an Offer and Sign the Contract
Time to complete: 3 – 10 days
Once you find a house you like, you will need to work with your real estate agent to offer. Let them know your final price and your contingency price. If there are other terms that you want to be included in the deal, make sure your agent is aware of them before placing an offer.
When making your offer, send your lender a pre-approval letter and a 3% fee proposal. The standard is 1%, but if you have your heart set on the location, you can always offer more than average. If the seller sends you a counteroffer, respond to it as soon as you can. Sellers are under no obligation to accept your offer over another seller if you take too long. At the same time, don’t feel pressured to buy a counteroffer you are not comfortable with or won’t afford long term.
Secure Your Final Mortgage Approval
Time to complete: 3 – 24 days
Being pre-approved for a mortgage shows how much a lender is willing to offer you, but doesn’t mean that your loan is secured. Also, some lenders may not want to loan money for a particular property. The lender will send their inspectors and appraisers to the property to ensure that it is a sound investment and that the property is worth the price that the seller is asking. You will also need to provide more documentation to secure your loan. The next few steps will take place simultaneously as opposed to one after the other, so keep that in mind for your timeline.
Complete The House Inspection
Time to complete: 2 – 6 days
After the seller accepts your offer and the mortgage company approves your loan, the house will undergo some inspections. That usually takes a few days to get scheduled, but the actual review only takes a couple of hours. Once the assessment has been completed, the inspector will send the report to your lender and a copy to you (if requested). Depending on how busy the inspector is around the time of your inspection, it may take a few days. If issues have been noted, either the parties will renegotiate to take the needed repairs into account, or in the case of FHA loans, it may be delayed longer.
Complete the House Appraisal
Time to complete: 3 – 9 days
The appraisal is what will make or break a mortgage loan. If the house is appraised for less than the selling price, the buyer will need to put more money down. Alternatively, the contract can be renegotiated to match the appraisal price instead. It is best to have an appraiser on hand as soon as you place an offer. Scheduling usually takes 4-5 days, with an equal amount of time needed to generate the report. That will also go directly to the lender. However, you can request a copy as well.
Secure Title Insurance
Time to complete: 2 weeks
No house can go to closing without a title check. This step ensures that when you buy the house, you won’t be inheriting liens or debts attached to the house. This process takes about two days. The insurance certificate takes two weeks to be prepared, which is generally plenty of time to closing quickly.
Secure Homeowners Insurance
Time to complete: 3 – 14 days
Homeowners’ insurance is just like car insurance. Different companies will offer different rates. Make sure you get the best quality for your house to save money over time. Every state insurance department publishes a list of premiums in the state so you can compare easily. Sometimes the insurance company will send their agent to check the location for potential risk. Also, some lenders may require additional protections, such as flood or fire insurance, depending on your area.
Prepare Your Funds For Closing
Time to complete: 1 – 3 days
Ask your real estate agent what type of payment method to use for the closing. Usually, it will be a certified check, bank wire, or a cashier’s check. Gather your funds in one place so that you can complete this step when required. If the payment information was sent to you via email, confirm the details with your real estate agent over the phone or in person.
Complete Final Walk-Through
Time to complete: 1 day
That is your last chance to double-check the house to make sure any repairs requested were completed. It is also your chance to double-check that everything is in order as you last saw it.
Close on Your House
Time to complete: 1-2 months
Signing the paperwork and walking away with the keys to your castle only takes about an hour. The actual process from submitting an offer to the closing will take, on average, 40-50 days. There are plenty of instances where this process is completed much quicker, but knowing the average will allow you to plan your house purchase.
How long does it take to buy a house: Final words
I hope now you know every step of house buying and how much time each step takes. When you finally will close a deal, please share your story here in the comments or as an anonymous person on the website of our partner.