There are many steps in buying a house and each step takes time. The biggest determining factor is how long you spend looking at properties. Once you have a contract in place, it takes an average of 50 days to close on a house.
Do Your Homework (1-14 Days)
It is one thing to dream about owning your own home, but making it happen is another. Moving beyond the dream stage means doing some research to figure out what you require, what you want, what you do not want, and how much you can afford.
It is disheartening to fall in love with a house that you cannot afford. You can talk with a local mortgage lender to help avoid the heartbreak by getting pre-qualified. Pre-qualification is not a loan, only an estimate of what you can afford.
Find a REALTOR® (1-7 Days)
A REALTOR® will act as your most trusted advisor in the home buying process, so finding a REALTOR® that suits you is a key element.
Get Pre-Approved for a Loan (5-8 Days)
Getting pre-approved lets everyone involved know you are a serious buyer. Most REALTORS® recommend having a pre-approval in hand before making an offer. Your REALTOR® can recommend lenders if you need one.
Shop (Days to Months)
The most variable component is shopping for a house. You could find "your new house" on day one, but if inventory is low, it could take longer.
Make an Offer, Negotiate, and Sign a Contract (1-7 Days)
Your REALTOR® will help you negotiate price, contingencies, and other terms of the contract. This step can be easier by allowing your REALTOR® to provide the seller a copy of your pre-approval letter and putting down earnest money. If you are provided any counteroffers, respond with urgency.
Get Final Mortgage Approval (Up to 3 Weeks)
A pre-approval is not a loan, nor is it a loan guarantee. The lender will have other requirements once you have chosen a property to purchase. They will also want to see financial documents, so have those at the ready.
Get a Home Inspection (3-7 Days)
Once the contract is accepted, contact a home inspector and schedule a home inspection. The inspection only takes a few hours, but since they are often booked up, you will want to get on their schedule as soon as possible. Also, the home inspection can discover faults that need repairing and renegotiation. Do not worry; your REALTOR® can guide you through the process.
Get a Home Appraisal (Up to 5 Days)
The appraisal is one of the most important steps for mortgage approval. If the property does not appraise for the mortgage amount, you may be required to put more money down or renegotiate the contract. The appraisal will be sent to the lender, not the buyer or seller.
Get Title Insurance (1-3 Business Days)
The title company will research the property to ensure there are no prior liens or claims to the property, allowing a clean transfer.
Get Homeowners Insurance (Up to 2 Weeks)
Your insurance company will send someone to the property take photos and assess the property for any potential risks. Your mortgage lender can require specific coverage, such as flood insurance if you are buying in a flood zone.
Conduct a Final Walk-Through (About 1 Hour within 1 Day of Closing)
This is your opportunity to make sure all repairs brought up by the inspection have been performed and that the property is in the same condition as when you saw it last.
Close on the House (Average of 50 Days; 1-2 Hours to Sign Paperwork)
After you have the contract, each step is part of closing on the property. The process, including loan approval, inspection, appraisal, title trace, insurance, etc., takes about six weeks.
On closing day, be sure to bring your photo ID and flex your hand muscles; you will be signing a lot of paperwork. The best part of the entire process is at the end: you will be presented with the keys to your new house.