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Buying a house can seem like a daunting task, especially for new home buyers. The steps to buying a house can seem complicated, beginning with research mortgage options and ending with closing where keys are finally exchanged. What are those steps? How long does it take to buy a house? Knowing what to expect during the home buying process and knowing how long those steps may take makes the adventure of home buying a bit easier.
What many new homebuyers do not realize is that there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into completing a home purchase. When asking how long does it take to buy a house, consider that there are many legal and financial matters that have to be tended to. The process involves several people, including the buyer, the seller, the real estate agent, and the mortgage broker who must successfully interface. It isn’t as simple as going to the store.
What Is The Process Of Buying A New Home?
Understanding the process of buying a new house will help the homebuyer to know how long does it take to buy a house. There are many steps involved that we will try to put forth in understandable terms.
Step One - Mortgage Shopping And Preapproval
Most people will not pay cash for a house, they will take a loan called a mortgage. Mortgages are offered based on creditworthiness and income, so shopping for a mortgage before shopping for a house can save time down the line. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage gives you the information about how much house you can afford and lets reassures the seller that you are ready to buy and that the process will not get hung up due to credit.
The bank where you already hold checking or savings accounts is a good place to start shopping for a mortgage, but don’t stop there. Look around for the best rates and incentives available. There are lots of home buying grants and specialized loans available for first-time home buyers and low-income home buyers.
When considering how long does it take to buy a house, think about hiring an experienced mortgage broker to help you get the best rates, incentives, and programs quickly and efficiently.
Step Two - Hire A Real Estate Agent
As a buyer, it just makes sense to hire a real estate agent. Buyers do not pay for the agent’s commission; sellers typically cover it. An experienced real estate agent will help move the how long does it take to buy a house question along much quicker. Their experience provides information on the home buying process, on available houses and neighborhoods, on prices and mortgage percentage rates in the current market, and they are experts at negotiation.
You can find an experienced and quality real estate agent by asking family and friend who has purchased a home in your area. Referrals are key here. If you cannot get a personal referral, check online reviews and interview individual agents until you find one who will meet your needs. Many real estate agents specialize, so ask if they have any experience that is a good fit for your specific situation.
Step Three - Understand What You Want
Make two detailed lists that will help you and your real estate agent decrease the how long does it take to buy a house timeline. The first list should include all the absolute necessities, the things you will not sacrifice on. The second list is a nice but unnecessary list. These lists will save you from having to scan through a lot of houses that will be automatic nos for you.
When considering your home purchase, keep in mind you will likely stay in the same house for a few years. How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? How much space is needed inside and outside the house? What locations do you want to consider? Is proximity to work or a certain school important? Do you want to be close to the city or more rural?
Step Four - Start The Home Search
This is the step many people know about how long does it take to buy a house. You will probably search online listing and reviewing listing your agent provides for you. Once you have a list of houses that look interesting, schedule a time with your real estate agent to see the homes you are into. See at least a few that fit your absolute necessities list and hopefully you will find the one that you love. Do not be afraid to take your time at this stage. You will learn more with every home you see.
Step Five - Make An Offer
Unlike buying something at the store that has a fixed price, home buying often involves some haggling. Your real estate agent will help you make an offer that is based on many factors including the asking price, the market and your desire for the house. If the seller likes your offer, you will move forward to the final stages, so haggle more on houses that aren’t perfect and less on ones you just love.
Step Six - Return To The Bank
Now you have found your house, and the seller has accepted your offer, it is time to return to the bank to complete your pre-approved mortgage. The lender will begin the process of inspections, appraisals, and underwriting. If you have not been pre-approved, this is where you will start the loan application process.
Step Seven - Hire Your Own Inspector
Hire an inspector to identify key issues with the house. Problems that come up can be minor enough to overlook or severe enough that you decide not to buy the house. The inspector’s report will guide you on whether to request the seller make repairs before buying.
Step Eight - Wait For Appraisal
The lender will request an appraisal to ensure that the house they are financing is worth the mortgage they have offered you. If the appraisal comes in at or above the agreed upon offer you are set to move forward. If it comes in lower than your offer, choose whether to cover the difference in cash or return to the market to look for a new house.
Step Nine - Closing
This is the final step in just how long does it take to buy a house. If the offer is approved, the inspections are done, and repairs dealt with, and the appraisal matches you, and the lender will close the loan. You will pay closing costs that include attorney fees, appraisal fees, a down payment, insurance and taxes for the first year. Once fees are paid, and all documentation signed, you will get the keys to your new home.
Is There An Easy Way To Buy A New Home?
Sure. If you are privileged enough to have cash on hand, and enough of it to buy the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood you can simply go shopping. Unfortunately, that is not the reality for most home buyers who will need to get a mortgage and stay within a budget. Taking care to complete all steps thoroughly will reduce the home buying headache.
Just How Long Does It Take To Buy A House?
It will take most home buyers six months to two-and-a-half years to buy a house. There are some things that will speed up or slow down the process, but a few months is a fair estimate for anyone buying a house. The fastest one can expect to buy a house is within one month if every step works seamlessly.
Preapproval takes a few days and can be faster if all tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and credit reports for the past two years are available. You may have to resubmit these documents upon closing if much time has lapsed or if there have been major changes in your financial situation.
Hiring a real estate agent and shopping will take most people one to three months. If you stay within your price range and specific needs, you will save a lot of time while looking at potential houses. Shop for what you need on a basic structural, land and location level, knowing that cosmetics can be altered.
Making an offer and negotiating can take a few days depending on whether the seller approves, rejects or counters your initial offer. Inspections and appraisals can take a couple weeks but must be done before closing. If major issues arise with either, the process will be slowed down.
Closing the mortgage will take about 30 days if pre-approval has occurred and about 50 days if starting the loan application from scratch. If the buyer has had any significant changes to income, assets or credit since preapproval, this process may be delayed.
How long does it take to buy a house can be best answered with "it depends." However, doing your research, taking proactive steps toward mortgage pre-approval, knowing what you want, and hiring professionals to help can speed the process along.