How Long Do These Key Home Buying Steps Take?
If you are looking to buy a home, time is precious. Fitting in the time to shop for a home, negotiate on price, complete the financial paperwork, schedule home inspections, pack for the move, and attend the closing require knowledge of what to expect and some time management.
If it has been years since you bought or sold a home, or if this is your first time, you may not know how much time each of these activities take. Fear not - here are some rough estimates of the time each step will require of you.
Home shopping can take the most time of all the steps involved in the buying process, but the truth is you can’t really put an expected timeframe on this. You could get lucky and find the perfect home the first time you head out with your real estate agent, or finding the right home could take several weeks or even months. Planning on anything from one day to six months is probably a safe range. If you are extra specific in what features a home must have (are you super picky?), or want a specific location, or both, it may mean it takes you a year to buy.
Negotiating on a price is a back and forth thing between buyer and seller, and how long it takes depends on several factors, including how close the offer is to being fair market value. Sometimes a seller wants way more than the home is worth and this can make negotiations difficult and last longer. Sometimes the buyer thinks that lowball offers are going to get them an amazing deal. Expect it to last anywhere from a few minutes (the offer is acceptable to both parties instantly) to several days, or in extreme cases (usually if one party takes several days to issue a counter offer) a couple of weeks.
- Financial paperwork takes a buyer more effort than time. You need to find all of the required documents to take with before you sit down with the mortgage broker. Plan on an hour to discuss loan options and fill out paperwork. With a verified credit report, income, assets, and W-2, it then takes minutes to get approval. The next step to finalize everything would only be subject to final underwriting approval, which typically takes place during the first couple of weeks after a contract is signed to purchase a property and a set amount is requested by you to borrow.
Home inspections take about 2 hours. It can be a few days before you get the written report, but you should be able to get a verbal synopsis right after or during the inspection.
- Packing for a move can take several weeks – so if you are moving yourself start early! General timeframes many moving companies give for packing and unloading are as follows: two to three hours (with two or more movers) for studios and one-bedroom apartments; three to six hours (with two or more movers) for two-bedroom apartments/houses; seven to eight hours (with two or more movers) for three to four-bedroom houses; and eight to ten hours (with usually at least four movers) for houses with five bedrooms or more.
- The closing typically is scheduled for about 30 days after the contract is accepted, but it can take longer. This event is where documents are signed and ownership officially changes hands. There are numerous documents for the buyer to sign, and several for the seller to also sign, but both parties are usually there for the duration. Expect the closing itself to take approximately 90 minutes to two hours.
The best way to make certain you have time allotted for all the requirements of buying a home is to understand the process. Ask your real estate agent any questions you may have – they are there to supply those important answers.
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