Homes are one of the most expensive things that most people will buy in their lives. Because of this, the home buying process isn’t something you want to rush. If you don’t give yourself enough time, you could end up buying a home that doesn’t meet your needs, or you could pay more than the market value.

So, how long is the home buying process?

How much time someone spends buying a home is going to vary based on each person’s unique situation. The process can be completed in a few short weeks, but it may also take several months.

The following is a breakdown of the steps involved in the home buying process and how long it typically takes to complete each step.

Determine Your Needs

Time to Complete: 1 Day

One of the most important factors in the home buying process is to determine what you need in a home. Many people will already have a good idea of their home needs based on their current and previous living situations.

Examples of things you may need in a home include:

  • Three bedrooms
  • Two full bathrooms
  • Must be close to work
  • Fenced-in yard for the dog
  • Minimum of 1,800 square feet
  • Price is within your budget

Determining your needs is something you can do in an evening. Find a quiet place that is free from distractions and write down everything you can think of that your new home must have. You can then give your written list to your real estate agent to help you find the homes that meet your criteria.

Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Time to Complete: 1 Day

Before you start looking at potential homes, you will need to get pre-approved for a mortgage (unless you are paying with cash). To be pre-approved means that a lender has reviewed your financial information and has determined how much they would be willing to loan you.

Pre-approval is not the same as being approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval starts the mortgage application process. Your application will then be reviewed by several people to make sure you are able to repay the loan. A final decision on your mortgage application may take 30 to 45 days.

Pre-approval, on the other hand, usually does not take long. Your lender will most likely be able to review your financial information the same day you apply.

Hire a Real Estate Agent

Time to Complete: 1-7 Days

Working with a real estate agent can help you avoid many common pitfalls in the home buying process. These professionals show buyers homes that are for sale, assist with negotiations, and coordinate the closing process.

Finding a real estate agent is not difficult, but you don’t necessarily want to go with the first one you meet. It’s important to find an agent that you feel comfortable working with, is experienced and has a strong knowledge of the local housing market.

Asking people for recommendations is a great way to find a good agent. You may be able to get the word out on social media, for example, that you are looking for someone.

It’s also a good idea to research agents online before choosing one. You can check out the websites of the real estate companies they work for, and you may even be able to find some online reviews from previous clients.

Search for the Right Home

Time to Complete: 1-2 Months

Your real estate agent will now show you homes in the community you want to live in that are for sale. You’ll want to take your time with this step. Be sure to view all of the available homes that meet your criteria.

It’s important to not get discouraged if you don’t find a home right away. Additional homes will be listed for sale in the coming weeks that aren’t currently available.

After you have narrowed your search to a few homes that you like, ask your real estate agent to show them to you again. Take all of the time you need when visiting each home. It’s a big decision, and you want to make sure you carefully assess each home and get all of your questions answered. Although many people can find a home within 1-2 months, it may take longer in some cases.

Negotiate the Price

Time to Complete: 1-7 Days

After you have found a home that you want to buy, it’s time to make an offer. Your real estate agent will help you determine a fair market value for the home. The agent will also take care of presenting your offer to the seller and will communicate any counter-offers to you.

The negotiation process may take several days to complete. In addition to negotiating the price, other things may be negotiated in the purchase including:

  • Closing costs
  • Repairs related to inspections
  • Furnishings, appliances, and other household items
  • Cosmetic updates

Close on the Home

Time to Complete: 30-45 Days

The date of closing is usually determined during the negotiation process, although sometimes there are things that may cause delays. Several things happen during the closing process that can contribute to it taking a month or more to complete including:

  • Opening an escrow account
  • Home inspection and repairs
  • Home appraisal
  • Mortgage underwriting
  • Obtaining homeowners’ insurance
  • Final walkthrough
  • Attending the closing

Moving In

Time to Complete 1-7 Days

After the closing is done, it’s time to move into your new home! How long this takes depends on whether you are going to hire a moving company to do the moving for you or if you plan on renting a moving truck and doing it yourself. Another factor to consider is how far you have to move your furnishings and other things.

How Long is the Home Buying Process if You Also Have a House to Sell?

Many people who are interested in buying a home would also like to sell the one in which they are currently living. Having to deal with selling a home could increase the time it takes to buy a new home considerably. You will need to factor this into your planning.

There are two different strategies you could take when you need to both sell and buy a home. You could buy a home first and then sell, or you could sell your home first and then buy a new one. There are some things to consider with each option. Click below to learn more and how Chartway Federal Credit Union can help you navigate the process.

How to Buy a House While Selling Yours