No pain, no gain. To turn a house you love into your very own home, you’re going to have to put in some serious time and effort to get it.
It’s usually a faster process for first-time home buyers because they don’t have to sell a house while they’re trying to buy their next one. But, still, the home buying process is going to take some time and that time is going to be a little different for everyone.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to buy a house?
Feel the Need for Speed: Timing For Buying a House
Wouldn’t it be great to see a house you love online and move in the next day? Maybe someday. Even though you can’t use Amazon Prime to buy a house, you can still speed up the process by being on top of your game.
|Task 🏠||Timing ⏱||Speed. It. Up! 🏎️|
|Get preapproved for a mortgage||About 1 – 7 days||Applying online can get you preapproved in a day or less.|
Know your credit score and make sure you gather the required documents before contacting the mortgage lender.
|Find a real estate agent||About 1 – 2 weeks||Find an agent who gets you. An agent who sends you a bunch of house listings that aren’t even close to what you’re looking for is eating away at precious time.|
Find an agent with a “need for speed” and an eye for accuracy.
|Shopping for a house||About 3 months (on average)||The hotter the market you’re in (🔥🔥🔥), the more prepared you need to be to compete with other buyers.|
Make sure you get preapproved, find a good agent and keep your expectations realistic.
|Make an offer and negotiate||Typically 1 – 2 days (may take up to a week)||There are rare exceptions, but you’ll probably get a decision fairly soon. Make a fair offer and react quickly to counter offers.|
Stay in the Game: Shopping for a House and Negotiating
Buying a home is a unique process. It can sometimes feel like you’ve gotten trapped inside a supernatural board game, swinging from vine to vine in desperate search of your dream home.
Meanwhile, you’re dealing with all the obstacles – qualification requirements, other buyers, slow sellers – ready to pull you into quicksand and sink your chances of getting the keys to a home.
But you’ve got this.
Remember, it’s important to:
Keep your phone on and nearby at all times. Obsessively check for missed messages. No shame. If you found a real estate agent who works fast, make sure you’re just as quick with your replies.
If the seller or their agent is being unreasonably slow, you have the right to ask your agent to speak to them about it.
Ahead of a potential bidding war for a house you’re in love with, decide ahead of time what your absolute final offer would be in that scenario. That way, you can act fast.
Either your bid gets accepted or you gracefully bow out and move on to the next house.
Move Ahead: Getting Your Offer Accepted
You’ve been focused and responsive during negotiations and your offer was accepted.
YES. Now what?
High-five, chest bump, wave your hat around in celebration. But don’t take your foot off the gas. We’ve only just begun. 😈
First you and the seller both need to sign a purchase contract typed up by your agent. The purchase contract details your offer and can include any contingencies (promises you or the seller need to keep for the deal to go through).
How long it takes
Expect your agent to get it to you within a day – especially if they email it to be E-signed.
How to speed it up
Stay on top of your inbox and let your agent know right away if you spot anything that’s incorrect in the purchase agreement. Even legendary agents make mistakes every now and then.
If it looks good, sign it, and your agent will send it off to the seller to sign. If they don’t sign it within a day or two, ask your agent what’s up.
Eyes on the Prize: Prepare to Close on the Mortgage
Next, you’ll pay an earnest money deposit to show just how serious you are about buying the house. The deposit amount and its due date will all be in the purchase contract.
After that, you’ll enter the “due diligence” phase.
During this time, you’ll get the house inspected and appraised (more on that below). Make sure the purchase contract states that you can get your earnest money back if you discover anything problematic during the inspection or appraisal.
How long it takes
It’s pretty standard for due diligence to be up to 14 days. The exact number of days can be different, depending on where you live or any other unique circumstances.
- Getting the house inspected: The inspection is an optional professional service that pretty much every first-time home buyer should get done.
Time: Around 10 days for scheduling and the report being written (the actual inspection averages a couple of hours for a typical single-family home)
- Getting the appraisal done: A house appraisal is a professional estimate of a house’s true value. Your lender will need this to keep your mortgage application alive.
Time: Around 10 days for scheduling and under an hour for most appraisals
How to speed it up
This length of your due diligence period can be negotiated ahead of time.
If you don’t think you need 2 weeks, ask for a shorter amount of time to be put in the purchase contract. The seller might be willing to move as quickly you want to.
Also, ask your agent to recommend a home inspector that works fast. You don’t want them to cut corners during the inspection, but you do want them to return calls and email you the inspection report ASAP after the inspection.
The Final Countdown: Getting Through the Closing Process
While you’re getting the inspection and appraisal done, your mortgage application will also enter the underwriting process.
Your lender’s underwriter (the person who writes the specific terms of your loans) has the power to approve or deny your mortgage application.
Think of them as the final boss level.
You’ll need to provide documents proving your income, savings and other spending, as well as home insurance that you’ve purchased for your new home.
Underwriting is the final stage of your mortgage application. It’s like the last couple of minutes of the NCAA championship game, full of excitement, nail-biting – all the feels.
How long the closing process takes
Plan for it to take anywhere from 3 – 6 weeks.
Why the broad range? Some loan types may require more underwriting than others if they have stricter requirements, and some home buyers’ financial situations may take more time to review than others.
How to speed it up
Before you even seek preapproval on a house, organize the documents you’ll need to provide the lender. If anything about your money situation changes between then and when you get a purchase offer accepted, update your files.
For max speed, download (or scan) a digital copy of everything and keep it in a digital folder – ready to email to your lender.
You may get random calls from your lender during this phase, asking for additional info to help clarify or prove something. Happens all the time. So maybe give them their own ringtone.
Closing Time, Open All the Doors: The House Is Yours
Like the Avengers franchise and skinny jeans, everything, including the underwriting process, must come to an end.
Congrats, your mortgage has been APPROVED and you got your Closing Disclosure ahead of closing day. The disclosure tells you what you’ll be paying in cash when you close, as well as what your mortgage payments will be.
All that’s left is to head to the title agency or attorney’s office to sign all the paperwork and make the house YOURS.