Mortgage 101: How Long Does It Really Take to Buy a House?

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/29/17 9:00 AM

Topics: Loan Commitment First Time Home Buyer Preapproval Closing on your Home Appraisals home buying

Buying a home takes several steps, especially if you’re like the majority of homebuyers who finance their homes. While you’re eager to get into your new house, you’ll need to practice patience in a few of the steps throughout the homebuying process. Here are some typical timeframes of the steps to buying a home.

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Get a Pre-Approval Letter or Get a Loan Commitment

Typical time frame – 1 to 2 days

Meeting with a mortgage banker should always be your first step when you decide to buy a home. Most real estate agents won’t even start showing homes until a buyer has a pre-approval letter in hand.

To get pre-approved, your lender will run your credit score and compile a loan application with the information you provide regarding income, employment, assets, etc. Your lender then analyzes that info and issues a decision on whether or not you are eligible for a loan. If you’re qualified, your lender will issue a pre-approval that states your eligibility pending verification of the information you gave them.

A loan commitment takes the pre-approval process a few steps further by verifying your financial information with supporting documents like tax returns, pay stubs, W-2’s and bank statements. In a fast-moving market, a loan commitment is a great choice because it essentially means you’re approved for a loan (pending a home appraisal) even prior to finding a home to purchase.

Related: Pre-Approval vs. Loan Commitment: What’s the Difference & Which One Do I Need as a Homebuyer?

Complete Showings

Typical time frame– 30 minutes to 1 hour per home

This part of the timeframe is mostly up to you as a buyer. Remember to take your time looking at all of the features of a home, even if you walk in and instantly fall in love.

Ask questions. Ask for input. If you’ve narrowed down your options, ask for a second showing if need be. You’ve made the right decision to enlist a real estate agent, so put them to use!

Get a Response to Your Purchase Offer

Typical time frame – within 3 days

When you put in an offer on a home, there is usually a deadline attached for the seller to respond, whether they’re accepting, countering or rejecting.

Get the Home Inspected

Typical time frame – 2 to 3 hours on site, full report within a few days

One of the major contingencies to a home purchase agreement is a home inspection. After all, your home is likely the biggest purchase you’ll make in your lifetime. Professional home inspectors look for defects or malfunctions in a home’s structures, systems, and physical components. This is not to be confused with a home appraisal.

It’s suggested that homebuyers be on site when the inspection takes place, so the home inspector can walk them through their findings and ask questions. You can expect to see a full report within a few days of the inspection and then work with your real estate agent and sellers on anything that needs to be addressed before closing.

Related: Mortgage 101 – What Does a Home Inspector Look For?

Have a Home Appraisal Performed

Typical time frame – 1 hour on site, full report within 2 weeks

An appraiser is the one who attaches value to a home. They spend at least an hour examining the condition, home functionality, home improvements, amenities, etc. and taking measurements and photographs to determine value.

Then they take their findings and compile an extensive, detailed report that is typically ready within 2 weeks of their walk-through.

Related: Mortgage 101 – Why Is My Home Appraisal Taking Longer Than Expected?

Close On Your Home

Typical time frame – around 45 days

From pre-approval to closing, the amount of time that it takes to finance a home can vary (some of which depends on the completion of the steps listed above). As a borrower, one way to keep the ball rolling on your mortgage is to get necessary documents to your lender as soon as possible.

To learn more about the home financing process and buying a home, in general, download our free Mortgage 101 Handbook, a great resource for first-time homebuyers.

Download: Mortgage 101 Handbook

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