How Long Does It Take To Buy A House? A Step By Step Guide

By: ROS Team

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The length of time it takes to buy a house depends on the unique circumstances around you. If you are looking for an exact timeframe, well, there isn’t one. It may take weeks or months to find a home and then an additional month or two to close the deal.

To be honest, the amount of time it takes to buy a house requires that you learn each step involved in the process. Once you’re familiar with the process you can then predict how long it will take for you to buy a house based on the buyer and the seller.

Here is a Step By Step Guide:

1- Pre-Approval for the Loan (5-8 Business Days)

Pre-approval is the first step you should take in the buying process. Pre-approval is a process when the bank determines how much money you can afford to borrow from the bank.

It may take five to eight business days to complete the pre-approval process. Getting pre-approval requires that you provide your financial information for the bank’s review. Upon reviewing the information, the bank will let you know how much loan you can afford. It helps set your financial priorities, mainly your budget. Additionally, sellers always consider buyers who have been pre-approved more seriously.

Pre-approval for the loan
However, there is more to pre-approval than merely setting aside of week to get it done:

  • Six months before getting pre-approval, you should start saving money that you can apply towards a down payment. This helps convince the lender that you are ready to buy a home.
  • At least two months before getting pre-approved, avoid taking out any other loans because your debt-to-income ratio matters.
  • A month before applying for pre-approval, prepare the financial documents you plan to submit to the bank for review. These documents include recent pay stubs, federal tax returns, and your bank statements.

Note: You should consult with various lenders to get pre-approval.

2- House Hunting (A few days to a few months)

This is where the time frame varies between weeks to months. Searching for a home is the most stressful and time-consuming job. You’ll be able to control some parts of the process, but other aspects of the process will mean you have to take a backseat and let things happen when they happen.

How soon you find a home depends on how many homes are available in the real estate market. It is likely to take less time if you have multiple home options to choose from.

Usually, people see an average of five to six homes before deciding on one; those who are a bit more indecisive on what they like tend to look at 15 or more houses.

House Hunting

Staying flexible is very important. If you did not have any feedback during the house building process, it’s unlikely that you’ll find the home that completely captures the home of your dreams. You need to prioritize what you’re willing to compromise on and what you cannot. For example, if the house you like is in a great location but lacks sufficient square footage, you may find yourself weighing which is more valuable to you.

The real estate agent has a big role to play in this step. Getting an experienced agent is key because the experience you have with the help of an agent is inversely proportional to the time you are likely to need services for search a new home. Invest in a good agent and reap the benefits.

3- Make An Offer And Negotiate (1-7 Days)

This is the time when a potential buyer makes an offer to the seller. Consult with your agent before making an offer and have one or two additional homes as backups in case your first choice is under contract or the deal falls through. You will need to attach your pre-approval document along with the application.

In case the seller does not agree to the terms of your deal and makes a counteroffer, you’ll need to respond quickly to avoid losing out to another potential buyer.

Usually, sellers reply to offers within a couple of days but, given the additional agreement clauses, the negotiation over the terms may take as long as a week.

4- Home Inspection (1 to 7 Days)

Once your offer is accepted you should plan a home inspection. Don’t compromise on this step because it helps ensure you are getting what you are paying for a sound, solid home free of any major structural defects. A home inspection is usually planned within a week of accepting the offer, but it depends on the seller’s availability.

Home Inspection

Once satisfied with the condition of the home, you are ready to close the deal.

5- Close the Deal (45 to 50 Days)

Just because your offer is accepted doesn’t mean you’re ready to sign all the transfer documents. There are still plenty of things left to do like finalizing the loan, getting the home appraised, and receiving the title and home insurance.

It takes almost a month to get the loan finalized after you are pre-approved. This step also involves the appraising of the property you intend to buy. The bank will review the appraisal and determine the market value of the property.

Homeowners Insurance

Title insurance means that you will own the home free and clear of any liens. It also means there are no other claims on the property and there is nothing illegal about the property.

Once title insurance is secured, you are supposed to get homeowner’s insurance. This step normally takes up to two weeks. The best strategy for getting home insurance is to get multiple premium quotes from different companies and then compare them.

If the sellers agreed to pay for any repairs or maintenance work, it is time for the property walkthrough for the final time. This is the time to verify that all work that should have been completed has, in fact, been completed.

6- Ready for the Big Day

The house is almost officially yours. Decide on a day to meet with the seller and reach out to the attorney who will complete the legal review of the paperwork. Don’t forget to bring your photo ID. You will be signing the documents now. Congratulations!

Conclusion:

Hopefully, you now have a general idea of how long it takes to buy a house. The timelines listed here are based on the average time each stage takes in the house buying process. As long as you’re prepared during each stage you may land on the minimum end of the time range.

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