August 3, 2017
Buyers ask me this question all the time. But because no two home buying experiences are alike, there isn’t a definitive length of time the process will actually take. There are many factors that go into the purchasing process that will determine whether a specific experience will be longer or shorter. For some buyers, things can come together quite quickly and for others it may take months to settle into a new home. Let’s take a look into the stages of home buying and some different things that could affect the length of the entire process.
According to a study done by the Daily Mail the average time spent searching for a house is about 16 weeks. The most important factor in how long your experience will take is how motivated you are to find a home. If you are a first time buyer and you have the time to spend house hunting, that will be a much different experience than that of someone who is also selling a house. Then there are the external factors. Generally, housing inventory dips during the colder months and rises again in the spring and summer. So when there isn’t a lot of inventory to choose from, it will obviously take you longer to find the house that suits you perfectly. If there are any unique features you are looking for in your new home such as a pool or an in-law suite, you will be adding on some time for that. At the end of the day, your search simply comes down to your priorities and sometimes even a little luck.
Once you’ve chosen a home and a contract has been approved there will be a period of time that’s called contract-to-close. A contract that is contingent upon receiving financing could take as little as 30 days and as long as a couple of months. Also, some types of loans (generally government backed loans like FHA or VA loans) can require some additional underwriting and might possibly need up to 60 days to process. This part of the process can be overwhelming – especially for a first time buyer. Your mortgage lender should work with you to keep you up to date on the documentation they need from you and on the next steps. Obtaining approval on your mortgage is often the longest part of the process, so make sure to factor that into your timeline estimate. Other pieces of the puzzle include scheduling an appraisal and an inspection of the home, which must be completed prior to the closing. Your lender can guide you through this process.
No Two Experiences Are Alike
After all is said and done, a new homebuyer can estimate a few months to find their perfect new home,
30-60 days for the contract-to-close period and about a month before you have to write that check for your first mortgage payment. I tell my buyers that the most important thing is to ask questions, stay informed about the process and make your decisions carefully. That’s the best way to have a smooth home buying experience within the timeframe that makes sense for you.