Do you ever wish that they taught a class in high school called, “Things You’ll Actually Need to Know In Life?” You’d learn how to prepare your taxes, what investing is, and how to buy a home.
Unfortunately, all of these important life lessons tend to be self-taught; you pick them up along the way and learn from your mistakes.
However, it needn’t be that way. Our goal today is to give you an accurate idea of what to expect when you’re buying your first home. We’ll go over a typically home buying timeline and discuss how long each step can take. This will give you a better idea of how long it will take to close on your first home.
Step 1: Build credit and save for a down payment
Estimated time: 2+ years
The first step of buying a home is to make sure you’re financially secure enough to do so. While there are ways to purchase a home with low or no down payments (See FHA, USDA, and VA loans), generally it’s wiser to wait until you have a sizable down payment saved. This will save you money in interest and mortgage insurance in the long run.
Next, you’ll need to start working on your credit. If your credit score took some hits due to late payments when you were younger, now is the time to start fixing those mistakes by making on-time payments and paying off outstanding balances.
Step 2: Have a plan for the next phase of your life
Estimated time 6+ months
One of the most important, and least talked about, parts of buying a home is understanding what it means to own a home. If you have a spouse, partner, or family, you’ll need to be in agreement that you’re prepared to stay in one place for the next 5 or more years.
Buying a home is expensive and you won’t want to go through the process of closing on a home if you aren’t sure you’ll stay. This means making sure your career won’t bring you elsewhere in the near future.
Step 3: Get prequalified and preapproved
Estimated time 1-3 days (depending on how much initiative you take)
Getting prequalified for a mortgage takes minutes. You simply fill out an online form and the lender will give you an idea of the type and size loan you could qualify for. Be forewarned: they’ll also use this information to call and bother you about getting a mortgage from them.
Once you’re prequalified, it’s just a matter of working with the lender to provide the correct documentation for pre-approval.
Getting preapproved takes a bit longer (1-3 days), since it requires a credit check and some work on your part--namely, gathering and sending income verification.
Once you’re preapproved, you can safely start shopping for homes without worrying that you’re wasting time looking at homes that are overbudget.
Step 4: House Hunting
Estimated time: 30+ days
It’s a seller’s market. So, if you’re buying a home right now there is competition out there. You’ll need to dedicate a substantial amount of time to researching homes online, contacting sellers’ agents, and following up on calls. Like before, the amount of effort you put into this process determines how quickly and smoothly you’ll get through it.
Step 5: Making an offer and closing
Estimated time: ~50 days
Average closing times for buying a home has grown to 50 days according to a recent study. However, by securing financing ahead of time and acting quickly, you can drastically cut down the time of these process to as little as two weeks.
Looking to buy a house in the near future? If your answer is "Yes," you may want to start reviewing housing market data. That way, you can gain the insights that you need to make data-driven decisions throughout the homebuying journey.
Ultimately, there are many housing market data that you'll want to assess as you prepare to buy a house, such as:
1. Mortgage Interest Rates
Mortgage interest rates fluctuate constantly. As such, if mortgage interest rates are low, you may want to move quickly to capitalize on them.
Meeting with banks and credit unions generally is a great idea if you plan to buy a house. These financial institutions can keep you up to date about mortgage interest rates and help you get pre-approved for a mortgage. Then, once you have a mortgage in hand, you'll be ready to pursue your dream house.
2. Average Amount of Time That a House Stays on the Real Estate Market
Differentiating between a buyer's market and a seller's market often can be difficult. Fortunately, if you examine the average amount of time that houses are listed in your city or town, you may be able to determine whether you're preparing to enter a buyer's or seller's market.
In a buyer's market, houses may be listed for many weeks or months before they sell. Also, these houses may be sold below their initial asking prices.
Comparatively, in a seller's market, homes may be available for only days before they sell. Homes that are available in a seller's market may be sold at or above their initial asking prices as well.
3. Prices of Houses in Various Cities and Towns
If you're open to living in a variety of cities or towns, you'll want to evaluate the prices of houses in many areas. That way, you can narrow your house search accordingly.
Oftentimes, homes in big cities are more expensive than those in small towns. On the other hand, big cities may provide quick, easy access to a broad range of attractions and landmarks that you simply won't find in small towns.
If you are ready to check out housing market data and begin a home search, it pays to hire a real estate agent too. In fact, with a real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble enjoying a quick, seamless homebuying experience.
A real estate agent is happy to provide you with a wealth of housing market data. Plus, a real estate agent will teach you the ins and outs of buying a house. He or she also will keep you up to date about new houses as they become available and negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf to ensure you can acquire a terrific house at a fair price.
When it comes to buying a house, it helps to be informed. If you assess the aforementioned data, you can obtain comprehensive real estate market insights to help you throughout the homebuying journey.
A home inspection may prove to be exceedingly valuable, particularly for a homebuyer who is on the fence about whether to purchase a particular house. In fact, a house inspection may raise a number of questions that a buyer will need to consider to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with a home purchase.
Some of the key questions that a homebuyer needs to consider after a house inspection include:
1. What do the inspection results reveal about the overall condition of a house?
A home inspection represents a learning opportunity for a buyer. After the evaluation is finished, a buyer will receive a report that outlines a home inspector's findings. This report usually is available within 24 to 48 hours of an inspection and can make a world of difference to any buyer, at any time.
As a homebuyer, it is essential to review the results of a home inspection closely. That way, you can learn about any underlying issues with a home and map out the best course of action.
If you find that a home has a variety of problems, you may want to ask a seller to complete myriad house repairs before you finalize your home purchase. Or, if you are satisfied with a home after an inspection, you may want to continue with your house purchase.
Keep in mind that you can always walk away from a home sale after an inspection too. In this scenario, you can simply reenter the housing market and continue your search for your dream residence.
2. After reviewing the home inspection results, am I comfortable with a house?
Oftentimes, it helps to consider the prices of possible home repairs after you complete an inspection. If you analyze these potential costs and find they exceed your budget, you should plan accordingly.
Home repairs sometimes can be expensive and time-consuming. As such, if you are uncomfortable completing a broad assortment of home repairs on your own, you'll want to account for these repairs as you decide how to proceed with a house following an inspection.
3. Is a house a viable long-term investment?
The decision to purchase a home is a life-changing choice. Therefore, you should consider the results of a home inspection to ensure you can maximize the value of this potential long-term investment.
Remember, a home inspection gives you an opportunity to assess any structural issues with a house prior to finalizing a house purchase. If you have any concerns about a possible home purchase following an inspection, you should address these concerns before you complete your transaction.
When it comes to conducting a home inspection and reviewing the assessment results, it generally is a good idea to work with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you find an expert home inspector to analyze a residence both inside and out. Plus, a real estate agent will offer tips about what to do following an inspection and ensure you can achieve the best-possible results throughout the homebuying journey.
As a homebuyer, it is easy to envision finding the perfect house, submitting an offer on it and acquiring it right away. However, it is important for buyers to consider the worst-case scenarios as well.
A buyer who understands the worst-case scenarios that he or she may encounter during the homebuying journey can plan accordingly. That way, this buyer will be better equipped than others to avoid various homebuying worst-case scenarios altogether.
Now, let's take a look at three common homebuying worst-case scenarios, as well as how buyers can avoid these situations.
1. You find your dream home, but it falls outside your price range.
If you enter the housing market without a mortgage in hand, you may need to act quickly to acquire the necessary financing to purchase your dream house. But once you kick off a search for a mortgage, you may find that the cost to acquire your dream home falls outside your budget.
When it comes to getting home financing, it often helps to be proactive. Fortunately, if you meet with banks and credit unions before you launch a home search, you can determine exactly how much money you can spend on a residence.
Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage professionals. With these mortgage experts at your side, you should have no trouble getting pre-approved for a mortgage at your convenience.
2. You discover a wide range of problems during a home inspection.
A home inspection likely will be completed in the days after a seller accepts your offer on a residence. And in some instances, an inspection may force you to reconsider whether you want to purchase a house.
If you encounter problems during a home inspection, you still have lots of options. You can ask a seller to perform assorted home repairs or reduce your offer. Or, you can walk away from a home sale and restart your home search.
For homebuyers who are worried about any problems that they encounter during a home inspection, it is paramount to look closely at all of the aforementioned options. By doing so, you can make an informed decision about whether to proceed with a home purchase or reenter the housing market.
3. You employ a real estate agent who fails to help you achieve your homebuying goals.
Many real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide. But if you fail to conduct an extensive search for the right real estate agent, you may struggle to accomplish your homebuying goals.
When choosing a real estate agent, you should learn about this housing market professional's industry experience. It also helps to meet face-to-face with a real estate agent and discuss your homebuying goals with him or her. This will enable you to determine whether you're comfortable working with a particular real estate agent.
Enjoy a quick, stress-free homebuying experience – consider the aforementioned worst-case homebuying scenarios, and you can minimize the risk of potential pitfalls throughout the homebuying journey.
Buying a house is a life-changing decision. As such, you should perform extensive home evaluations before you make your final purchase decision.
There are many questions to consider as you review houses, and these questions include:
1. Does a home match my expectations?
Entering the housing market with homebuying criteria usually is a good idea. If you know what you want to find in your dream house, you can tailor your home search accordingly. As a result, you can speed up the homebuying journey.
When it comes to establishing homebuying criteria, it helps to consider your short- and long-term goals. For example, if you want a house that is close to your current office in the city, you can search for residences in towns and cities near your workplace. Or, if you are willing to upgrade a house on your own, you may want to focus on "fixer-upper" properties.
2. Can I afford a house?
Home prices vary based on many factors. Fortunately, if you create a homebuying budget, you can narrow your house search and review properties that fall within your price range.
Oftentimes, it helps to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Banks and credit unions are happy to provide you with a wide assortment of mortgage options. Once you assess the different types of mortgages, you can choose one that will ensure you can acquire your dream home in no time at all.
3. Will a home require in-depth repairs in the near future?
How a home looks today may not match how this residence looks in the years to come. As you evaluate residences, it may be beneficial to consider potential repairs.
For instance, if a house likely will require a new roof in the next few years, you may need to budget for this expense. Conversely, if a home is brand new or recently has been upgraded, you may be able to avoid costly, time-consuming repairs in the foreseeable future.
If you want to streamline your home search, you can hire a real estate agent too. In fact, if you employ a real estate agent, you can receive comprehensive support throughout the homebuying journey.
A real estate agent has a simple goal: to help you find a great house at a budget-friendly price. To accomplish this goal, a real estate agent will learn about you and your homebuying criteria and craft a personalized homebuying strategy. Plus, a real estate agent will set up home showings, offer expert homebuying recommendations and help you submit an offer to purchase your dream residence. And if you have homebuying concerns or questions, a real estate agent is available to respond to them at your convenience.
Lastly, be careful as you evaluate available homes in your preferred cities and towns. Keep in mind that no house is perfect, and any residence you buy may increase or decrease in value over time. And if you find a home that you want to buy, prepare a competitive offer, and you can boost the likelihood of receiving an instant "Yes" from a property seller.