If buying a home is on this year’s To-Do List you may be wondering exactly how long it will take. There is no magic number of days that I can give you, because there are a lot of variables that go in to purchasing a home. On the average it takes about 60 days from offer to closing, but that too can vary depending on your specific situation.
To give you an idea of the process involved I will try to summarize the steps you need to go through and the timeline that you should follow. The first step is critical to the success of the process and should be your first stop. Get pre-approved with a local lender. Everyone gets excited at the prospect of finding a new home and your first instinct is to run out and start looking at properties. Resist the urge and visit your lender first! This is the only way you will know how much of a house you can afford and what kind of mortgage you qualify for. Both of these things are crucial to the process. Looking in the wrong price range can set you up for disappointment, wastes valuable time and isn’t fair to the sellers that think you are a potential buyer if you can’t afford the home. There are also specific things that the property must have to qualify for certain types of financing. For example, if you are pre- approved for a USDA rural development loan, that foreclosure property that you have your heart set on probably won’t qualify for this type of loan. Knowing the price of home you can qualify for and the type of loan you will be needing can focus your search on homes that fit these requirements from the very beginning.
The next step is to find a Realtor that knows your local market and will represent your best interests in your home search. All real estate is local so make sure your Realtor is familiar with the area you are searching in and has your best interests at heart. They will be your best ally throughout the entire process. Now you can work together on identifying properties that meet your needs and begin your home search. Looking at homes online is a great way to see what options are available but remember there is no substitute for viewing the properties in person. You can’t see the neighborhood or smell stale smoke or pet odors online.
You also can’t get a true picture of the size of the rooms until you visit the property. Sometimes the online photos are so enhanced it doesn’t even resemble the home when you actually are in it! This part of the process can take the longest depending on what kind of home you are looking for. The average buyer actively searches for about 12 weeks and tours approximately 15 homes before they make a buying decision.
The next step, once you have found a property, is to make your offer, negotiate and sign the contract. This is where your pre-approval letter from your lender will become very important. It will let the seller know that you are qualified to purchase their home and will make you look like a serious, prepared buyer. Your Realtor will guide you through the offer and negotiation process to an accepted offer. You will also want to retain an attorney to review the paperwork and attend the closing to represent you.
Once you have an accepted offer you move in to the inspection, mortgage application and appraisal stage. You will have a time period per the contract to have any inspections you have asked for, get your mortgage finalized and have the property appraised. Your Realtor and lender will help you through all of these processes and make sure you are meeting all of the contractual deadlines. If any inspection issues arise, your Realtor will help you negotiate a resolution. This process has the potential to delay your closing if deadlines can’t be met or problems arise so be prepared to be flexible if necessary.
After all the contingencies have been satisfied, the final conditions are cleared. Title insurance is ordered from the Title Company, your homeowners insurance is secured and the paperwork is prepared for the closing. A day or so before the closing takes place, your Realtor will arrange a final walk through of the property so you can make sure it is in the same condition is was when you made the offer and that everything is in working order. This is a very important step because once you sign the closing documents, you own that property in whatever condition it is in.
The last step is to attend the closing and sign the loan papers and the closing documents which will transfer ownership to you. You will be given the keys after the papers are all signed and then the fun begins! You become a new homeowner and can move in and start making that house your place called home!