House-hunting can be a daunting task for many regular would-be homeowners. On top of having the right checklist for house-hunting, some buyers may be pressed for time and are looking to buy a new house as soon as possible.
Just how long does it take to buy a house? Well, it depends on many factors, but if you’re looking at no problems, all the paperwork in line, loans are approved, and the house is ready to be moved into, it could take up to one month to get the house in your name.
But take note that this may not always be the case, and some house hunters may spend half a year in the real estate market before they find a house to settle for. So, here’s a complete timeline on buying a house to help you estimate how long it may take you to buy a house.
Timing May Be Crucial
For many buyers, they may have a limited time to move into a home of their own. But whether it’s the end of their lease or the end of their stay at a friend or family’s place, they need to find a place, ASAP.
Real estate websites estimate that the earliest an average person can find a house takes around four weeks. It is possible to find something quicker, but it really depends on factors like the real estate market and giving a solid offer so the homeowner won’t wait for higher offers. So if speed is your main concern, you might have to lower your house hunting standards a bit, especially in a competitive market.
Zillow found that around half of house buyers found their home in less than three months, but around 13 percent stayed in the housing market from seven months up to one year. So, if you want to play it safe, start looking for a house at least one year before your current lease ends.
Buying a House: Timeline
Here’s an average timeline on how long it may take you to purchase and move into a house.
Finding a Real Estate Agent
Ideally, this could be done in as quickly as a couple of hours if you have friends or family working as a real estate agent. If you are looking for a home with a specific feature (houses catered to those with physical conditions, houses with pools, luxury houses, houses within a certain school district), there’s a chance your close connection may have a listing for it.
You could also choose to go without a real estate agent and search for your own properties online and in listings, but it has many consequences. Those who opt to skip having an agent can save around five or six percent from realtor fees, but you will have to do all the necessary paperwork to purchase the house. If time is of the essence, it’s much better to let your real estate agent handle these affairs.
But if no one in your network is a real estate agent and you want to have one, you might have to find one online. And this can take up to two weeks, depending on what kind of house you’re looking to buy.
Pre-Approval for Mortgage or Loans
Unless you have the cash and savings on-hand to buy a home, you may need to get pre-approved for a mortgage or a house loan. And shopping for mortgages, applying for them, and getting approved may take up to two weeks or much longer, depending on your current financial status.
Searching the Market
This is what can make or break your house-hunting timeline. In an ideal market, it can take you up to a week to find the right home that meets all your needs, is in an ideal location, and is within your price range. However, this may not always be available in the area’s market, so some opt to wait for months to find the right property.
Once you’ve found the property, your real estate agent can help you put together an offer. Ideally, it can take less than a week to come to an agreement. If they accept (usually, homeowners in a rush to sell their properties accept offers much faster), you can move on to the next step. If they decline, you can send another offer or go back to the real estate market. And if they send you a counteroffer, you can start negotiating on a price.
Once you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage, you can start getting your loan approved. On average, housing loans can take around 50 days but expect approval and appraisal between six to eight weeks.
Expect to take up to two weeks to get a home inspection, especially if the house isn’t new. Depending on the quality of the house when you bought it, it can take up to 10 days to have a complete assessment and then 24 hours to send a complete inspection report.
This is the part of the deal where you and the previous homeowner sign the paperwork necessary to transfer home ownership to you. If you have a real estate agent, this can take less than a day and requires minimal effort on your part. After this, however, you will need to pay several fees, including your real estate agent, and most of the costs associated with buying a home.
Renovations and Repairs
Now that the house is yours, technically, you are allowed to move in at any time. If the home assessment found nothing wrong with the house, you are free to move in as soon as possible.
But if there’s a need for repairs or replacements, or you want to do minor or major renovations to get the house the way you want it, it could take much longer. Minor repairs should take less than a week, but more major improvements can take months, depending on your contractor’s timeline.
Once everything has been repaired and modified to your liking, you can finally move into your new house. If you’re using a personal car or a small moving truck like a U-Haul or if you don’t have that many belongings to bring, it can take one weekend day to get all your stuff into your new home. For bigger families, it may take the entire weekend to fully move in. This doesn’t include arranging the furniture and unpacking – that could take a couple of extra days, especially if you’re doing it in bits on top of your regular schedule.
Now that you have a timeline of what is going to happen when buying a house, you can estimate how long it will take to buy a house. Of course, not everyone’s buying experience is the same, so it may be shorter or longer in your case.
If you really want to shorten the timeline, it’s best if you use your network and see what’s available. Someone in your network may be a real estate agent who knows a listing you might like or someone you personally know maybe rushing to sell their house for a good price.
If time is of the essence and you don’t have either, it’s best not to be picky and buy what’s available in the market. Otherwise, consider renting a home while you wait for the right listing to show up.