It can take anywhere from several weeks to several months — or even longer — to complete the buying process. There are many variables along the path a home purchase. Every buying scenario is different, because every buyer is different. With that being said, there is an average time for the various steps you will encounter along the way. So let’s talk about those steps.
Getting Pre-Approved for a loan: Mortgage pre-approval is when you go to a lender before you have started shopping for a house, in order to find out how much of a loan you can get. This process usually takes a few days to a week.
Choosing an Agent: It might take you anywhere from one day to one week to find an experienced agent. Get references from people you trust. And when screening agents, ask them how long it typically takes for their clients to buy a home. If you’re on a short time line, ask what they can do to help expedite the purchase.
Shopping for a Home: House hunting is often the longest stage of the home buying process. During this step, you will use the Internet, your agent, and good old-fashioned driving around to find homes that potentially meet your needs. On average, the house hunting stage can take three to six weeks.
Negotiating with the Seller: Real estate purchase offers typically have a 24-48 hour window. The sellers use this time to evaluate the offer and decide if they want to accept it. The negotiating stage of the home buying process typically takes less than a week, but it can stretch longer if there’s a lot of back-and-forth negotiating.
Mortgage Underwriting and Approval, Escrow and Closing : Once you have signed a contract to buy a house, your loan application file will move to the underwriter. The underwriter will carefully examine your files to make sure it meets all of the lender’s requirements, as well as any secondary requirements such as FHA or Freddie Mac. How long it takes can vary based on how smoothly it goes. Some borrowers sail through the underwriting process, while others have to resolve the conditions set forth by the underwriter. the process can take anywhere from one week to three weeks, partly depending on the borrower’s qualifications. The period of time between offer acceptance and closing is referred to as escrow. The escrow process is generally 30 to 45 days, on average. But it can be longer than that. It’s up to the buyer and seller to negotiate on the settlement/closing date. At the end of the escrow, the buyer and seller will attend the closing process and sign all of the necessary paperwork. The closing process itself typically only takes one day, unless there are paperwork snacks to be resolved.
As you can see, there are many variables that determine how long it takes to buy a home. If you are a proactive home buyer, and everything goes smoothly for you, you could find and purchase a house in two months or less. On the other hand, if you have trouble qualifying for a home loan, or you have trouble finding a suitable house to purchase, the process could stretch on for six months or more. No matter which kind of buyer you are, it is never too early nor too late to start the process!
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