Whether you’re a first-time buyer or not, it’s good to review the major steps in the home buying journey to ensure you’re prepared for the process and can accurately plan for the move into your new home.
Let’s jump into what to expect and how long it will take to buy your next house.
Get Pre-Qualified with a Mortgage Lender
Before you narrow down your top selections of homes, it’s a smart idea to get pre-qualified for your home financing. Getting pre-qualified will help you set an initial budget. You’ll be able to move forward with the confidence that you can secure a mortgage for the home you end up choosing. It depends on the lender, but you can usually get pre-qualified in as little as a few days to a week.In addition to the assurance it will give you, getting pre-qualified also shows sellers that you’re a serious contender and that they can expect a smooth sale.
Begin Your Home Search
For most buyers, the home search period is the most time-consuming part of the buying process. It could take a few days to a few months. It can vary based on your location, preferences, budget, and the overall trends affecting the housing market.
Starting your search early will give you an idea of what to expect from housing inventory in your area. It will also set you up for success in finding a place you love while maintaining realistic expectations about the time it will take to be under contract.
Now that you’ve started your home search, you’re working with a real estate agent, and you’ve begun the process of getting pre-qualified with a lender, next you’ll narrow down the selection of homes that meet the criteria you’re looking for.
This is typically a part of the home buying journey when things move fast, and it can feel like you’re in a whirlwind. It could take a few days to find the perfect home, put in an offer, and get it accepted, or it could be a few months before you get there. It depends on your area, the types of home you’re looking to buy, and the market.
But don’t get discouraged if it’s taking longer than expected. The timing will work out, and you’ll soon cross the finish line with the keys to the new home that you love. Your preparedness and your allies in the process – your loan officer and real estate agent – will help you realize your homeownership goals.
Negotiate and Make an Offer
Negotiations are your real estate agent’s time to shine! This is when they put all their skills to work. They will utilize their local market expertise to secure the best price and convince the seller that your offer is the one they should accept.
This is another step in the process where the timeline can vary, but making an offer and getting it accepted usually takes a few days to a couple of weeks. If the seller doesn’t end up accepting your offer and instead sells to another buyer, it may extend your journey, as you’ll have to search for another property.
Get an Appraisal and Home Inspection
Once you’ve gone under contract, you’ll need to schedule an appraisal to ensure the price you’ve agreed to is a fair and accurate market valuation. You’ll also want to have a home inspection completed to make sure there are no major structural issues or repairs required.
Appraisals and inspections can usually be scheduled in a week or two and take a few hours to complete. This can vary based on your location and how many appraisers and inspectors are available to handle the volume of home sales in your area. In a market with lots of activity, it may take longer to coordinate availability with schedules.
Paperwork and Closing
This is the final phase of your buying journey. You’re almost to the finish line! This is when you’ll be working closely with your lender to go through the loan process. Your lender’s team will send your loan through processing and underwriting, verifying your ability to make your monthly payments and examining your credit history and finances.
The loan process usually takes a few weeks to a month, and some of that work can happen at the same time your appraisal and inspection are occurring. Different loan programs have different requirements for both the lender and the buyer, so your loan officer is the best resource for a more firm timeline that will reflect your specific situation.