How Long Does It Actually Take To Buy A House?

The process of buying a new home is an exciting one. Home buyers are overjoyed at the idea of taking possession and moving into a new property that will facilitate the coming years of their life, and all that comes with that time. A home acts as the backdrop for all of the successes and challenges that you will experience in the coming future. This space will play an essential role in all that you do and so the process of buying a new home is immensely satisfying for most people.

But home buying isn't without its challenges. For one thing, the market has become incredibly hot (although this looks to be changing) and buyers are faced with stiff competition on just about every property. This makes the research and viewing component of home buying far less comprehensive and certainly quite a bit more rushed. Still, even with this change of pace, the process of buying a new home can take quite a long time. Ramsey Solutions reports that a homebuyer should expect to spend four to five months on the project of buying a new home, but just one or two to close on a deal. However, it can take as many as six or seven months to complete the transaction from start to finish under typical circumstances. One factor that's important to keep in mind is whether or not you've already been scouring the real estate marketplace. If you're starting this process cold, it will undoubtedly take longer. 

Searching the market for suitable properties

The first thing that any home buyer will have to do is search the market for properties that fit their needs. calls this passive home buying and suggests that this process should likely start six or more months before you are ready to make an offer on a property that fits your needs. During this time, people gearing up to buy a home start getting serious about their needs in this future property. You might consider browsing through listing sites, and it might make sense to attend an open house or two during this time period. In the passive portion of your home by experience, you'll also want to spend considerable effort on credit improvement, down payment savings, and general financial management projects that will make you a more suitable contender.

You'll also want to think about the things that you would like to have in a home, with the features that are a deal breaker (either positively or negatively), and potential locations for your property. One thing about the real estate market that's different from other commodity arenas is that a home is an immobile structure. Once you purchase a property, the geography of that space is where you will call home until you decide to pack up and move again. Therefore, it's equally important to think about where a home is alongside what the home features.

Preapproval for a mortgage loan

Gaining pre-approval for a mortgage loan is an important step that home buyers should take seriously. The pre-approval letter that you'll receive from your bank is typically valid for 90 days, according to Bank of America, and this step is perhaps your first concrete movement from passive home buyer into the active searcher role. Once you've established your suitability to lenders, the clock starts on your timeline to go from home searcher to homeowner.

While this can be a little stressful, applying for mortgage pre-approval is a critical step in this transition. Some sellers won't engage with buyers who haven't already established themselves as serious through the use of pre-approval applications. Essentially, a mortgage pre-approval letter ensures to a seller and real estate agent that your offer is legitimate. It may not be common for people to offer to buy a home with no intention of going through with the sale, but it is possible for someone to make an offer and then fail to secure funding in the days and weeks to follow. This can be a nightmare scenario for a seller who is looking to move quickly to a new property. In fact, a homeowner's sale may be linked to their own buying needs, and an offer that fails to go through can tank their own deal. As a result, many sellers will only engage with those who have established themselves as legitimate through the use of mortgage pre-approval.

Find a real estate agent to help you in your journey

It's also a good idea to speak with real estate agents that can act as your buyer's agent when finalizing the terms of an agreement to purchase a home. Your real estate agent will work on your behalf to secure favorable terms and a quick timeline for a transfer of ownership and many other aspects of the complex documentation process that must take place in order to sell or buy a property. reports that it should take you roughly a week to find and hire a real estate agent. Real estate agents are marketplace experts and leverage their knowledge of the local area to help secure both the property that's perfect for your needs and the price that matches your budget and desires. Real estate agents are an essential guide for anyone entering the property market, and their skill is particularly valuable to first-time homebuyers who have never experienced the real estate trade before. It's important to speak with multiple real estate agents before hiring one, though, as everyone in this industry will approach the market in their own unique way and this can work for or against you as a unique homebuyer with your own personal needs and motivations. Vetting potential real estate agents will help you gain a better understanding of the marketplace and make a quality selection when it comes to finding an ally to work alongside you during this tumultuous time.

Browsing homes and making an offer

With your real estate agent in tow, during the final phase of your home browsing process, you'll want to visit a few open houses and discuss specifics with homeowners engaged in the market and your realtor alike. During this time, you'll be actively scouring the market to find properties that you seriously want to invest in for your future. Early on in the passive browsing phase, the goal is to understand what types of homes are available on the market at price points that match your rough budgetary requirements and restrictions. During this part of the process, you'll be looking to narrow the field down to only properties that match specifically with your list of requirements. It should be noted that you might need to visit (and make an offer on) multiple homes during this phase: Zillow reports that 42% of buyers offer on multiple homes as a result of stiff competition and a resulting failure to win a bidding war.

However, here you're only going to visit homes that you could actually see yourself moving into. Anything else is a waste of time and will only slow down your efforts. This is where your real estate agent will play a large role in the process. Real estate agents can help guide you to great properties listed on the market and steer you away from potentially problematic homes, like those that have leaking roofs or aging amenities that will likely need additional repair works.

Closing on the property and your move-in date

Finally, when you settle on a home that you love, you'll want to put in an offer. This is an exciting time and signals a change in your status from searcher to de facto buyer. Rocket Mortgage reports that the closing phase of a home-buying process in the United States typically takes 30 to 45 days. In these final weeks, you lock down the financials with your lender and go through any final checks that may be involved in your agreement to purchase the home. Typically, homebuyers will incorporate a contingency that's based on an independent inspection of the property. The inspection is important for buyers, and if you can fit it into your schedule, you should always tag along with your inspector in an effort to learn even more about the property that you'll soon be moving into.

The final phase of the buying process is dominated by paperwork. Many buyers find that there's something to do or someone to check in with on a near-daily basis as they sprint toward the finish line. It's important to keep other aspects of your life in check though. As a buyer, you'll be moving out of a property that you currently live in, and managing this process can be stressful, too. Keeping everything organized is critical during this time and will help you make the most of your move.