Whether you’re considering buying your first home, your next home, looking to downsize for retirement, or anywhere in between, you are probably wondering how long it takes to actually buy a home.
The truth is that home purchasing will depend on several factors that can speed up or delay the process. By being well prepared, and with a little bit of luck, you can complete the home purchasing process in as little as 1-2 months.
Let’s look at each of the main parts involved in the home purchasing timeline and how long each one usually takes.
Mortgage Pre-Approval: A Few Hours To Several Days
Before you begin your home search or start exploring neighborhoods, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your finances. Mortgage pre-approval not only saves you time but it can also help you make a successful offer on your dream home. This is where a licensed mortgage lender and mortgage pre-approval can be a great advantage.
Mortgage pre-approval, which is how much you can borrow from your lender, lets you definitively clarify the price range you can comfortably afford.
When you reach out to a local licensed lender, like the mortgage specialists at River City Mortgage, we’ll go over your finances with you. We’ll look at your current income as well as any outstanding, ongoing, or recurring debts to calculate the amount of mortgage you can qualify for.
Generally speaking, the mortgage pre-approval process can range from a few hours — with steady employment, proof of good or excellent credit, and few or no debts — to several days for a more complex financial situation.
But mortgage pre-approval comes with another important benefit.
In today’s hyper-competitive real-estate marketplace, you might have to move fast when you find the perfect home for you and your family. With mortgage pre-approval, you can often submit your purchase offer within hours of seeing the property for the first time.
If you don’t have mortgage pre-approval, you can still make an offer, but you run an unnecessary risk of your offer not being accepted. Many sellers won’t accept a purchase offer from interested buyers who aren’t pre-approved for a mortgage. And if you wait until after you find a house to apply for mortgage pre-approval, another buyer could come in and scoop up your home while you’re dealing with paperwork.
Finding The Perfect Home: A Few Days To A Few Months (Or Longer)
Sometimes finding the perfect home is like Cinderella slipping on that glass slipper: a perfect fit the first time. But other times, it can leave you wondering if you’ll ever find the right place for your family to laugh, love, and grow. While the extremes on either side always seem to exist, most homebuyers find their ideal home within several weeks to a few months.
If you already know the general geographic area you’re interested in, you’re ahead of most others just beginning the home purchasing process. Deciding on the right neighborhood can take up a lot of time, especially when there are multiple considerations, like schools, shopping, places of worship, dining, fitness, medical facilities, and more.
But once you have a neighborhood in mind, you can begin to look at specific houses. This is when the real fun happens. As you walk through properties, whether virtually or in person, you can begin to imagine your family living there.
It’s important to consider if the properties require repair or upgrades before you make your decision to put in an offer and whether you’ll need to attend to them before you move in or after.
By defining what you do want, whether a yard, a duplex, a back split or bungalow, separate dining room or eat-in kitchen, etc., your real estate agent will be able to refine your property tours to those most likely to fit the bill.
Making a Purchase Offer: 1-2 Days
Once you’ve decided on a home you want, it’s time to make the offer. Your real estate agent will draft a purchase offer for you to sign and submit to the seller.
Drafting a purchase offer usually takes a few hours, and in many cases, you can submit your purchase offer the same day you see the home.
Once the seller receives your offer, they’ll need some time to make a decision. Some sellers indicate they will only consider offers after a specific date. For example, in competitive markets, they may only begin considering offers on a Friday, collecting multiple offers during the week.
If a seller accepts your offer, you may need to put a cash deposit down on the house.
If the seller comes back with a counteroffer, you can decide to accept the new terms or counter with new terms of your own. Once both parties agree on the terms, the offer is considered to be “accepted.”
This stage of the home purchasing process can generally take between 1-2 days.
Home and Pest Inspections: 5-7 Days
Once the seller accepts your purchase offer, it’s time to schedule a home and pest inspection. Home inspections help your lender determine the property’s true value by helping them calculate the loan-to-value ratio (LTV).
Home and pest inspections allow you to purchase your home without regrets. Home and pest inspections will highlight any areas of concern or in need of repairs, such as the roof, windows, or electrics.
Armed with a clear understanding of the home’s condition, you can decide to move forward, walk away from the deal, and start with a different home.
Closing: 3-5 Weeks
With a home and pest inspection completed and everyone in agreement to move forward, it’s time for your lender to process your mortgage. A home appraisal may be required, and they may ask for additional supporting documentation to finalize your mortgage.
When complete, your lender will provide you with a loan estimate breaking down the expenses you can expect to pay on closing day. If you have opted to roll your closing costs into the total amount of your mortgage, you won’t have to pay any out-of-pocket cash expenses at closing. With mortgage pre-approval, this process is shortened, allowing you to start packing sooner.
How long does it really take to purchase a house? The answer is: it depends. But with mortgage pre-approval, you can potentially shorten the process to between 1 and 2 months. If home purchasing is in your future or you’re interested in knowing how much you can afford to spend on a home, get in touch with the licensed mortgage specialists at River City Mortgage for a free, no-obligation consultation.