How Long Does It Take To Buy A House?

Certified Mortgage Advisor
NMLS 1701021
Published 
January 19, 2020

How long does it take to buy a house?

Maybe right now you are renting or you are in a home right now, and you're really wanting to get out of it. Maybe your landlord's not fixing things or you're tired of paying rent, some circumstances happening, and do you want to purchase.

For a lot of people that means they're moving to a different city or moving to a new job. And you want to know what the timeline looks like so you can organize your life around it. Now, we're going to talk about how long it takes to buy a home along with all of the ins and outs of some of the steps in the process. So stick around to the end. I'm going to show you all three steps for buying a home and how long it takes. So let's go ahead and dive into this.

Three main stages to buy a home

So there are three main stages to buying a home. So number one, we have a pre-approval. Number two is you're searching for your home. And number three is you're under contract and closing.

1. Pre-approval

So let's go to number one. Pre-approval. The pre-approval phase is where you're getting ready to purchase a home. This is where you're doing all those conversations about what your budget looks like, at the timeline that you're thinking of with your job. What it's going to look like if you are applying for new jobs or new positions, if you're changing cities, everything that entails preparing is in this step.

The down payment is one of the first things that you have to consider in your timeline.

Pre-approval turnaround time

Before I jump into all these details, I'm going to give you the answer here really quickly, though. Pre-approval in an ideal world, this should maybe take probably three to five days max.

Searching for a home

On average, this is going to take you 15 to 20, 15 to 30 days.

Being under contract

This is going to take you an average of 30 to 45 days. This is the average of what I see for a pretty streamlined move. Maybe if you're renting to purchasing in the same city if you don't have a lot of credit issues or any issues with your mortgage, then this is going to be pretty streamlined. Now let's go ahead and dive into some of these details.

Down Payment

Why is a down payment a big factor and how long it's going to take you to buy a house? Because on average, the National Association of Realtors says most people save for their down payment for six months. That means it might be a lot longer for you, or it might be a lot shorter for you. Maybe you have that down payment ready. Maybe you don't if you don't and if you don't that's okay, but having your down payment is going to be a big factor in how quickly you can purchase a home because you might not be able to purchase one right now if you don't have a down payment.

Videos about down payment

I have some videos on down payments you can also check out: What's The Typical Down Payment On A House?, How To Find A Realtor (For First Time Home Buyers), Fully Prepare To Buy A House (Step By Step Guide), 9 Home Inspection Tips For Buyers, and 9 Reasons You Should Buy A House so if you do want to have a down payment, I would highly suggest avoiding all these down payment assistance programs. You're going to pay a lot of money at an increased rate compared to how much savings you're going to get from not putting a down payment down.

Explore your budget

Also, this is where you're going to want to explore your budget. You might have some things that you need to work on right now with your budget. So the down payment might take six months. That's the average, your budget might take you a month to three months.  In preparation for buying a home. So what you need to do when you're purchasing a home is you need to start a budget.

You Need a Budget

If you don't have it yet, you need to know every single dollar that comes in your bank account and out of your bank account, I use a tool it's called you need a budget. You can also go to YNAB or You Need a Budget. This is I think the best budgeting software. You need to have your budget in check.

So you can make sure that when you're buying a home, all of the fixed costs, like your mortgage, your taxes, and your insurance, but you're also prepared for costs that are irregular. So things like utilities, you need a budget for maintenance. You didn't make sure that you can actually afford this house because you don't want to just go with what you can afford. Because what you can afford is going to be much higher than what you are comfortable paying. Banks will lend a lot more money than you actually should probably be paying monthly on a home.

Make sure you have your documents

In your preapproval, you're also submitting our collecting and submitting documents. So if you're unorganized, this might take you maybe a week. If you're very organized and you have all your financial documents in check and ready to go, this will take you one day, maybe tops.

Google Drive

So what I do with all my financial documents is I put them in a Google Drive. Google Drive is free. So anytime I'm going to pay. Take a picture, and upload it in. We get a W2, or 1040, just take a picture and upload it that way. When you ever want to do something that involves finances in the future, you're ready to go.

Changing jobs and changing cities

These are the two biggest ones, changing jobs and changing cities. This is where you're going to have to look at your timeline here because this is different, if you're renting right now and then just purchasing in the same city, then the only thing you really have to consider is when your lease expires. But if you're changing jobs and then you're going to have to look at when your current job ends and also your job search for another one, when does your new job start? There are a lot more things that you have to consider that change your timeline.

But in the easiest scenario, it really should only take you about three to five days to get pre-approved, and this is where you're talking to a mortgage lender, preferably, a mortgage broker who's going to help you find the best loans and options. And then going through the prequalification process of submitting an application, sending in your documents, and looking at loan options should only take you about three to five days.

Your time, your phase

If you have a longer timeframe because they're working on your down payment or your budget, or you're working out your timeline for moving jobs or cities, then that's okay. Just know that your preapproval phase is going to be stretched out a little bit longer. Buy on your timeframe just because other people seem to like things are happening in their life. And there, getting new jobs and promotions and new cities and new cars and new houses should not mean anything to you. You were on your own timeframe, you're on your own budget. You're living your life. Not somebody else's Dave Ramsey always talks about.

Don't try to keep up with the Joneses because the Joneses are broke. Cause I got a comment the other day where someone was saying a lot of these. Being factored in and banks are approving us for way more than we should be able to actually pay. And that is true. Banks will give you a lot more money.

And the thing is, people are really comfortable with debt. If you're not comfortable with debt, if you're really tight on your budget, then that's a great thing. It's easy to feel like other people are ahead of us because we get to see that on social. Just don't believe that.

Don't give in to that lie that other people are ahead of you, you have your own timeline to worry about your own happiness story, and let the things that make you happy come into your life. Instead of just trying to keep up with other people. Cause keeping up with other people will not make you happy.

Searching

Now we move on to step two. So step one was a pre-approval process. This is that process we're getting everything ready. You're having the conversations about what we can afford. What the numbers look like getting pre-approved. Do we have everything ready to go?

Pre-qualification letter

The next step is, you will get your pre-qualification letter. Pre-qualification letter, after you get a pre-qualification letter, you're ready to start searching for a home. So this is most likely where you've already downloaded some apps to search for real estate. You might be working with a real estate agent or not, but you're starting to look at other homes and see if they are ones that you want to write an offer on. That's the whole goal of the searching phase.

Finding a realtor

So step number one is you have got to find a realtor, and when I say find a realtor, it might be better to position it as hiring a realtor. You need to hire somebody on your team to represent your best interests in the deal. You can have all the websites and apps that you want to search for a house, the reason you need a realtor is somebody who's going to represent you and walk you through the process because real estate can be confusing and complex and overwhelming.

And it's very easy to make a mistake in setting up your contractor to not be able to spot problems with real estate. So first hire a realtor. Hiring a realtor should not take too long, but you do want to spend a little bit of time. Don't just pick up the phone call the first number and say, this is my realtor. Spend a little bit of time trying to find a realtor that you are going to mesh well with. So this should only take maybe three to five days. If you're going.

Needs list

After you find a realtor, work with them to come up with a needs list and your needs list is the things that you're going to write down ahead of time that you need in a home. If you don't do this, you're going to make emotional decisions that you will regret in the future. So a needs list needs to include the purchase price that you're going to pay, what's the max, and what's the minimum. What's the monthly budget that you're trying to stick with because different properties have different taxes. This is where your mortgage is going to be able to help you figure out what your monthly payment is going to look like. And what's a comfortable range.

You also need to have a needs list for aspects of the property, which are completely non-negotiable things for you and your family. For instance, if you're expecting a child, you need an extra bedroom, most likely in the future.

It's easier to trim down your choices

So if you have a list of items that you need, it's going to make it a lot easier to search for homes. Because instead of going and seeing 50 different prices, And not having any results, you'll be able to cut out the properties that you don't need ahead of time. So you don't waste your time and you don't have to stress over trying to look at all of these homes because it can be an emotional roller coaster.

If you're looking at all these homes without an idea of what you want, then you're going to see homes go pending and sold and pending and sold and pending and sold. And you're going to become emotionally attached to houses that you don't even want in the first place. So you have to have that needs list first before you begin doing your searching.

Showing

After you have your realtor and you have your needs list, then you can start looking at showings. This is the most fun part of buying a house. This is where you've narrowed down some homes with your realtor. You've found them maybe online of some houses you want to go see, and then you can go to the property and you're going to take a walk through the property and see what it's like. So this is where you get to have a little bit more hands-on experience with the home that you might potentially purchase.

Be patient while you are searching

So some people see two houses and they write an offer. Some people see 50, some people see a hundred. I would suggest you don't go into those numbers. Anywhere beyond five homes, then you probably haven't dialed in your needs list completely. Or you're in maybe a rough market that doesn't have a lot of inventory.

And if so, just be patient, but you shouldn't have to go see a ton of houses. It really can just be a waste of time. And it's an emotional rollercoaster. You don't want to be on. Have a goal to maybe see five houses max, because, with the way the internet is, you'll get to see so much information and pictures about a property before you have to go there. So this is where having that needs list is going to empower you to have those showings.

Writing an offer

Then finally you are going to write an. And when you write an offer, you and your realtor are we're going to sit down and talk about the terms that you want to negotiate. So you could say, I want this purchase price. I want this amount in seller credits. I want taxes to look like this. I want you to get to set up everything in that contract and present it to the seller for them to accept or counter offer.

3. Under Contract

So in this stage, once the seller accepts, you then go under contract. So the searching phase, again, should maybe take you 15 to 30 days on average. This is the time it takes to find a realtor to work on your needs list and go see some properties. It could be shorter. You might get pre-approved and then the next day finds the house that you love.

You might get pre-approved and then you have to wait six months to find the house that you love. Really? Your timeline is flexible. So if it's going slower than you anticipated that's okay. The whole point of understanding all this is just to be prepared in advance.

Timeline

So once you are under contract, this is going to take on average 30 to 45 days. This third phase is the phase in the process where there isn't a ton of change. These first two phases could last six-plus months, depending on your timeframe. This last phase really should only stick around the 30-day on the average mark, if you're purchasing with cash, it's going to go a lot quicker, probably two weeks.

If you have a pretty traditional conventional loan, that's pretty easy. You have a high credit score. If you have a down payment, then you're probably looking at about 20 to 30. If you have maybe a lower credit score, you're going with a government loan or a portfolio loan, something that's just a little bit more difficult. Maybe you're getting a gift from a family member. Then it's probably going to take maybe 30 to 45 days to get your mortgage.

Inspection

So when you're under contract, one of the first things you're doing is inspections. Inspections are where you hire an independent inspector. They're going to go out to the property and show you anything wrong with the property or things that need to be fixed.

And this process is normally gonna take 10 to 15 days. So 10 to 15 days, you're going to get an inspection report back. And then what you do is you get to negotiate a post-inspection with your realtor and a post-inspection looks like this, you get an inspection report back and it says, we need A, B, and C. Those are critical items that need to be fixed on this home.

Negotiate with your seller

So you go to your realtor and that realtor then presents items that you want to be fixed by the seller to the seller's realtor. And that's where you get to renegotiate and figure out who's fixing what and who's paying for it. What, and this is one of the pinnacle moments in the contract where things could fall apart. If there are too many problems with the home that you can't get resolved with the seller.

Post inspections

So inspections and post-inspection should take you 10 to 15 days to work out from the moment the is accepted. After that, you're going to do an appraisal. An appraisal takes anywhere from one to two weeks to get back. And with an appraisal what's happening is an appraiser goes out to the property. They're going to help the lender understand the value of the home to make sure that they can lend you all of that money. Because they don't want to give you $200,000 for a home that's only worth $150,000.

Cash based transaction don't need appraisal

If you are buying in cash, you probably won't have to go through an appraisal. And that's why cash deals tend to be a lot quicker. You don't have to worry about an appraiser getting out to the property. It really depends on your market, but a week to two weeks is pretty average for an appraiser to schedule, to go out to the property, inspect it, and then write a fully detailed report on the value of the home, and your purchase.

Underwriting process

Then finally you're going through the underwriting process. The underwriting process is where you're submitting all the documents needed to make sure that your loan is going to go through and it's going to be approved. So at the closing table, you'll have the funds to purchase a home.

So in the underwriting process, this is going to take anywhere from 15 to 20 days on average. And this is happening concurrently with inspections, post inspections, and the appraisal as well. So that's all happening at the same time.

It all depends on you

So all in all, how long does it take to buy a house? The speed really depends on you and how prepared you are. You're going to start with getting, pre-approved getting everything in line, and everything ready. On average it should take you three to five. Then you're going to go onto the searching process. On average, this will take you 15 to 30 days, and then you'll go ahead and be under contract for 30 to 45 days until you finally get to close on your home.

So I hope this gives you a good idea of how long it takes to buy a house. It really depends on how prepared you are. That's going to give you the highest chance of success and the highest chance of having the least amount of stress possible, but some of the ups and downs that can come with real estate.

Talk with a loan officer
Copyright © 2021 Win The House You Love LLC. All rights reserved.
Only for educational usage. All calculations should be verified independently. Win The House You Love LLC is not a lender, does not issue loan qualifications, and does not extend credit of any kind. This is not an offer to lend and should not be used to make decisions on home offers, purchasing decisions, nor loan selections. Not guaranteed to provide accurate results, imply lending terms, qualification amounts, nor real estate advice. Seek counsel from a licensed real estate agent, loan originator, financial planner, accountant, and/or attorney for real estate and/or financial advice. Read the full disclaimer here.