How Long Does it Take to Buy a House?

Start to finish on average, it takes 5 ½ months to become a homeowner. That seems like a long time, but many people that ask how long does it take to buy a house don’t realize the variables that go into it.

Finding the right home is half the battle – some people find their dream home in a week or two and others need 3 to 4 months, thus the variance. Once you find a home, you must negotiate, finalize your financing, and close on the deal, which usually takes 30 – 45 days.

Finding a Home and Making an Offer

Finding a home is fun for some and torture for others. Have a list of your must-haves and wants handy. This makes shopping for a home easier. You’ll know which homes suit you and which aren’t worth your time.

If when you think about the question ‘how long does it take to buy a house’ you hope it’s as short as possible, do the legwork first. Knowing what you want helps narrow down your choices and lets your real estate agent target the right houses.

Once you find a home, it’s time to negotiate, but you’ll discuss more than the sales price. Contingencies, closing dates, and items you want included with the sale are all important topics. This process can go back and forth for a while.

Does Getting Pre-Approved Help Speed up the Home Loan Approval Process?

Before you look at homes, we highly suggest getting pre-approved first. Lenders pull your credit, look at your income, assets, and liabilities, and determine if you qualify for a loan program.

Sellers want pre-approved buyers as it tells them the buyers are serious and qualified. Many sellers won’t accept bids from borrowers without a pre-approval. Once you sign the contract, then underwriters can finalize financing. This cuts down the time it takes to buy a house because lenders have already underwritten your loan.

How Long Does it Take to Buy a House after Signing a Contract?

After signing the contract, lenders take 30 – 45 days to complete financing. The minute you sign the contract, the clock starts ticking. The more prepared you are for underwriting, the faster it will go. 

Improve your chances of quick underwriting with the following tips:

  • Save for a down payment – You can get by with less than 20% down, but you’ll pay mortgage insurance. The more money you invest, the better terms and rates lenders provide, plus it opens up more doors for other loan programs. There are many strategies to increase savings.
  • Get your assets in order – Any assets you’ll use for the down payment should be in one account (a liquid account, like checking or savings). Lenders prefer funds that are in your bank account for at least 2 months when you apply. If they aren’t, they’ll need proof of the funds’ origination to ensure they aren’t proceeds of a loan.
  • Stabilize your employment – Lenders like a 2-year employment history. If you changed jobs within the last 2 years, be ready to prove why and how you’re succeeding. If you stayed in the same industry, you won’t have much trouble. If you changed industries, though, have proof of your education, training, or other qualifications that enable you to succeed in the new industry. 

Once the underwriter has the sales contract, they’ll order a home appraisal and title work. This determines the home’s value and that the seller is legally able to sell the house. You’ll satisfy all other conditions during this time too. Any conditions you didn’t settle during pre-approval should be settled now.

Are you Ready to Buy a House?

Go over the checklist to determine if you’re ready to buy a house. You know the answer to ‘how long does it take to buy a house, ‘now it’s time to put the steps in place. Get your financing in order and make sure your other qualifying factors ensure that you’re a good candidate.

How long it takes you depends on how fast you find a home. Don’t rush the process so you find the home that’s right for you. If you have your financing in order, once you sign the contract, the rest of the process moves along seamlessly.