How Much Time Does It Take To Buy A House?
Learn more about what to expect and how you can set yourself up for home buying success!
How Much Time Does It Take To Buy A House?
Buying a home following all the conventional steps can take far longer than most first time buyers would imagine. The vast majority of experienced buyers would always advise starting as early as possible. It can take anywhere from 4 - 6 months for most buyers to complete the purchase entirely. Here, we want to try and give you a quick breakdown of the most vital stages in the process along with an idea of the amount of time you should expect each to step to take. Let’s start with:
1. Saving and getting your credit score in order
The first thing you’ll need to prepare is your mortgage. No lender is going to offer you a mortgage unless you have a good credit score and a sizable lump sum to serve as your downpayment. As soon as you decide you want to enter the buying market, you should be paying off any credit card debt to improve your credit report as much as possible as well as saving as much as you can towards your down payment. This part of the home buying process is usually the one that takes the largest amount of time, so the earlier you start the better.
2. Figure out a realistic and affordable target budget
Once you’ve started saving for around 2 months or more and have a good grip on your credit situation, you’ll be able to more accurately calculate the level of mortgage you can afford. You can use online affordability calculators or seek advice from a financial advisor. The most important objective at this point is to get a good understanding of your financial situation and the budget you’ll have to work with. It’s vital to know exactly what you can realistically afford before you start looking at any properties. The last thing you want is to fall in love with a home that is far outside your budget.
3. Start checking out homes for sale within your budget
The time it takes to find the perfect home can vary significantly between different buyers. It’s unlike any other purchase you’re ever likely to make and demands significant investments of time. It’s a good idea to expect the search process to take several months, as you’re bound to sift through countless options before you find the right one for you. Most modern buyers will start their searches online, but it can also be handy to find open houses to visit purely for the experience. You can also check out real estate agents in the areas of your choice to build a good grasp of your market.
4. Select a real estate agent and lender
After scouting your market for at least a month or two, you might feel ready to start making offers on some of the options you’ve found. The best way to approach this is to have a pre-approved mortgage arranged with your lender. This pre-approval comes with a letter from your lender that shows you are in a position to buy and will help sellers take your offers far more seriously. You may want to interview and look up a number of real estate agents and lenders before deciding on the best ones to suit your preferences. Most pre-approval letters last for 2 to 3 months, which gives you a limited time to execute your hunt.
5. The serious search begins
Once you have a pre-approved mortgage in place from your lender, you’ll have 2 - 3 months of serious searching and dishing out real offers ahead of you. At this stage you can finally get your game face on and start devoting a lot more of your time to searching for the perfect property. Make use of online notifications to keep up to date with new postings in your area of choice, visit homes with your agent if you’re using one, and only spend time viewing properties that meet your essential criteria.
6. Final steps when your offer is accepted
Once you make an offer that is accepted, you’ll need to ensure the following essential tasks are finalized. These can take 1 - 2 months to complete depending on your specific circumstances:
Have an expert inspection agent conduct a proper audit of the property to ensure it’s safe and perfectly habitable.
Gain homeowners insurance
Your loan will not be processed unless you have homeowners insurance and have provided the details of your insurance to your lender. Aim to pick your insurer as soon as the property has been inspected.
Ensure you have immediate access to your down payment funds
Some savings accounts have release periods to adhere to. Check yours very soon after your offer is accepted and move the funds if necessary. You have to ensure your down payment is in an account that allows you instant access to it.
Give your landlord notice if you’re currently renting
Notice periods can vary between landlords so be sure to check yours and have it processed in a suitable timeframe that’s in line with your move.
Plan your move
It can take weeks to plan the logistics of a full scale move so start early. You might want professional help or to start organizing your possessions in advance if you intend to manage your move alone.
Complete change of address forms and establish utilities at your new address
You’ll need to fill these forms for your bank accounts, the government and IDs, any subscriptions you have, and arrange your utilities for your new home.
There’s always a lot to sign on closing day so don't make any major plans that will get in the way. Once the paperwork is sorted you should only have a few days left to wait until you get your new keys!