How long does it take to buy a house? A lot depends on how much time you spend shopping for one. But once you have a contract, it takes an average of 50 days to close on a house.
There are a lot of steps to buying a house, and any of them could drag out the timeline, especially if you’re not prepared. Here’s the home-buying timeline, broken down step-by-step, so you can be in control:
1. Do Your Homework
Time: 1-14 days
Dreaming about owning your own home is one thing; making it happen is another. To get beyond the dream stage, you need to do some critical research
to help you figure out what you do and don’t want — along with how much can you afford.
It’s mighty disappointing to fall in love with a house only to find out you can’t afford it. A quick chat with your bank can help you avoid that heartbreak — it’s called pre-qualifying. But it’s no guarantee you’ll get a mortgage (that comes later), only an indication of how much you can afford.
2. Find An Agent
Time: 1-7 days
Finding an agent who suits you is key to the home buying process. They should be your most trusted adviser. Look for one with intimate knowledge of your desired community. If they know the inside scoop, they’ll know a great deal (or a bum one) when they see it.
3. Get Pre-Approved for a Loan
Time: 5-8 business days
Getting pre-approved for a loan signals you’re a serious buyer. Most agents recommend you have a pre-approval in hand before you make an offer, and they can offer recommendations for lenders. But pre-approval goes deeper than pre-qualification. It needs a ton of documents from you. A couple of tips to help make this a speedier process:
- Get all your documents for mortgage pre-approval organized and ready to go.
- Compare rates from lenders within a 14-day window: Credit bureaus will count all their checks as just one. (That’s good news for your credit score.)
Time: A few days to a few months
Here’s where things really vary. There are so many variables. If you’re set on a particular neighborhood where the inventory is low, it could take longer… or you could discover “the one” on day one. It all depends on what you’re seeking and what’s available. But the typical buyer actively searches for 10 to 12 weeks and looks at a median of 10 homes.
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