Small Business Brief

Real Estate

Your Real Estate Agent: How Long Does It Take to Buy a House?

According to the latest home buyer reports, 32 percent of Americans have plans to purchase a home within the next five years.

Are you part of this group? Will this be your first time purchasing a home?

If you’re buying a house for the first time, you probably have a lot of questions. For example, you might be wondering, “how long does it take to buy a house?” 

If you’ve got questions about the home buying process, keep reading.

You’ll learn more about how long it takes and what you can do to make sure things go as simply and quickly as possible.

How Long Does it Take to Buy a House?

The answer to this question isn’t exactly simple. There are a lot of factors that go into buying a house. 

Generally speaking, though, you can expect to spend anywhere from 4.5 to six months searching for and purchasing your home.

Six Months Out

When you’re six months out from buying a house, you’ll need to start requesting copies of your credit reports. This is also a good time to start paying down your debts and figuring out exactly how much you can afford to spend on your home.

4-5 Months Out

Around four or five months before you’d like to be in your new home, you should start looking for houses. Search online for houses in your desired area. Real estate expert Laddi Dhillon also recommends starting to visit open houses to get an idea of what you like. 

2-3 Months Out

At this point, you should start getting pre-approved for a home loan. Your pre-approval letter will likely be good for 60-90 days. This is a good time to start touring homes with your real estate agent, too.

1-2 Months Out

At this point, you’ll be ready to start making offers. Keep in mind that you’ll likely have to make several offers before one is accepted.

After the offer is accepted, you’ll need to schedule an inspection and start planning your move. Choose an insurer, too, and begin the process of purchasing homeowners insurance.

You’ll schedule your closing day around this time as well. If everything goes well, once the closing process is over (remember that it does take several hours), you’ll receive your keys and be able to move in.

Factors That Influence the Buying Process

In a perfect world, the home buying process will line up pretty well with the outline above. We don’t live in a perfect world, though.

There are a lot of factors that can cause the home buying process to take longer or go by more quickly. Some factors that can influence the rate at which you close on the house include:

Expensive Purchases

If you make an expensive purchase (buying a car, expensive pieces of furniture, etc.), you could slow down the mortgage closing process. These kinds of purchases could affect your credit rating and cause the lender to think twice.

Death of the Original Homeowner

If the original owner of the home you want to purchase passes away, the home may need to go through probate. If this happens, closing will have to be delayed.

Issues with the HOA

Sometimes, issues with the Homeowner Association (HOA) can slow things down. For example, if the previous owner has outstanding fines or fees, this could put the sale of the house on hold. Try to negotiate these fees with the seller, or else you may inherit them when the purchase if finally finished.

Verification Problems

There’s a lot of verification required before you can be approved to buy a house. You’ll need verification from the mortgage company and your employer, for example. If there are issues getting these verifications, the whole home buying process will be slowed down.

Downpayment Problems

Sometimes, your lender may require you to put more money down than you initially planned. If this happens and you don’t have the necessary funds, you may have to delay the closure on your home.

Scheduling Issues

Scheduling issues can slow things down, too. Everyone needs to be able to meet on closing day — buyers, sellers, closing agents, title companies, etc. — and it can take some work to find a day that works best for all of these parties.

Contract Disagreements

Finally, you need to make sure everyone agrees on every aspect of the contract. For example, if the seller doesn’t agree with your contract requests, the transaction can be slowed down and your agents may need to sit down and renegotiate things.

Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

There’s a lot that goes into buying a home. If you’re a first-time home buyer, the process can be especially stressful.

These tips can help to simplify things and keep your stress levels as low as possible while you work on buying your first home:

  • Pay off all your debt and establish an emergency fund — this will help you avoid making any big purchases during the closing process
  • Start saving early for a downpayment
  • Compare real estate agents and find one who comes highly recommended and has experience working with first-time buyers
  • Plan ahead for real estate agent’s fees and commissions, as well as closing costs

Be sure to save up enough money for after move-in expenses, too. Buying a house is expensive, but there are lots of other costs that come later, such as the cost of renovations and furniture. 

Learn More About Buying and Selling Today

As you can see, there’s not exactly a clear answer to the question, “How long does it take to buy a house?”

If you keep this information in mind, though, you’ll have an easier time knowing what to expect when you start shopping for your dream home. These tips will also help you speed up the home buying process and make sure things go as smoothly as possible.

Do you want to learn more about buying a home? Do you need help selling your current home?

Whatever information you’re looking for, we’ve got lots of articles that can help. This article on selling your house fast is a great starting point.