How Long Does It Take to Buy a House: Path to Homeownership

Mortgage Dove

How Long Does It Take to Buy a House: Path to Homeownership

Embarking on the journey to homeownership is an exciting venture. It is essential to understand the timeline to ensure a smooth process. "How long does it take to buy a house?" is a common query and the answer varies based on numerous factors. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the critical steps involved, offering insights and tips to help you navigate the path to your new home.

Main Steps to Complete Before Calling a House Your Home

To shorten the time it takes to own your next home, make sure you take the time to prepare for house hunting. If you are looking for a mortgage, check your finances before attending an open house. It may take a few days or so to complete this step, depending on how well you manage your finances. To get started, follow these steps:


  • View your credit report and find out your credit score.
  • Make sure you save money for your down payment and closing costs.
  • Try out various mortgage calculators to figure out how much house you can afford.
  • Make sure you refrain from acquiring any new debt that will increase your debt-to-income ratio (DTI).
  • Make sure your paperwork is organized. To get preapproved, you'll need your W-2 forms, tax returns, bank statements, and pay stubs.
  • Decide where you want to live. It would help you decide where to live while sorting out your financial history. Take into account your lifestyle and do your research. If you're sure you're ready, examine the neighborhoods and school systems in the area you're considering.


Familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of buying a house. Consult your friends and family to learn what they like and dislike about where they live. If you know where you want to live, the house-hunting process will be shortened. There are five main steps once you choose where you want to live and how much you can afford. Now, let's examine them.


Step 1: Obtain a mortgage preapproval (in a day or two)

To finance the purchase of a home, you will need to get approved for a mortgage unless you can make an all-cash offer.


A preapproval application is the first step toward getting a mortgage. Getting a preapproval before you begin seriously shopping around for a home is essential. When determining how much home you can afford, lenders verify your income, credit history, and current debt. Consequently, you must submit tax returns, pay stubs, and bank statements to get a mortgage preapproval.


Prequalification is not the same as preapproval. It would help if you had preapproval when you're shopping for a new home. Still, prequalification is useful when you're in the early stages of buying a home.


An official estimate of how much your lender will lend you is then sent in a letter.


A Preapproval Letter is a crucial document in the home-buying process, indicating that a mortgage lender has thoroughly assessed your financial information and is willing to offer you a loan for a specified amount. This letter is obtained after applying for preapproval, which involves a detailed examination of your income, credit history, and current debt.


Step 2: Find A Home (6 Months To A Year)

Searching for the right home is often the most challenging buying process. Finding a home in a hot real estate market can take months or even a year.


It would help if you worked with a real estate agent to speed up the home shopping process. Real estate agents can help you begin home-buying with your preapproval letter.


A real estate agent acts as your eyes and ears when you are house hunting. Thus, choosing an agent you can trust and understanding what they do is critical to your success. Making one of the most important decisions of your life requires trust in your agent's ethics, expertise, and judgment.


Step 3: Put In An Offer

When you find the right home and are ready to buy, your real estate agent can help you make an offer. It is your agent's responsibility to write the offer letter, which outlines the terms of the sale.


A letter of proof of funds should accompany an all-cash offer to demonstrate to the seller that you have the cash necessary to close the deal. To show your creditworthiness and that you've been preapproved by a lender for the amount you're offering, you'll attach your preapproval letter to your offer.


Offers may be accepted, rejected, or countered by sellers. You will be guided through these ups and downs by your real estate agent.


Step 4: Finish the mortgage application process (About 1 Month)

The mortgage application process can begin once your offer has been accepted and a purchase agreement has been signed. Your house closing is just around the corner!


If your financial situation hasn't changed much, it's the house you've chosen that should be vetted. During this time, you should order a home inspection.


To ensure that your home meets the minimum requirements of your loan, lenders usually require 30 - 45 days to finalize the details of your loan. When your lender schedules your appraisal and underwrites your loan, you can expect to see your loan approved.


Let's take a closer look at each of these steps.




There is a difference between a home inspection and an appraisal. Home appraisals provide an opinion of a home's value. You can find out what needs to be repaired or replaced after an inspection.


It is still your right to have a home inspection, even if you waived the home inspection contingency to make your offer more attractive. You can still walk away from the sale if the house needs repairs that you cannot afford. The sales transaction may end up costing you your earnest money, but you cannot be forced to complete it.


Lenders rarely require home inspections for loans, but they may require one if the appraiser identifies problems. Certain parts of the country require VA loans to be inspected for pests.




Appraisals determine how much your home is worth based on professional opinions. Property inspection waivers (PIWs) are available through some mortgage programs, which waive the need for an appraisal.


However, appraisals are common practice because they ensure you aren't paying more for your home than it is worth. Unlike a broad home inspection, these examinations are usually more focused. Your lender may require a licensed foundation inspection if the appraiser observes a potential problem with the foundation. Licensed independent third parties will always visit the home to ensure a fair market assessment is performed.


It depends on what type of mortgage and property you have that affects how an appraisal is done and what is required. It is possible to approve a home with a desktop appraisal, which does not require a physical inspection.




Lenders verify your income, assets, and debt during the underwriting process to determine whether you qualify. After your lender has finished underwriting your loan, the underwriter can either approve or deny the loan.


Your lender will examine your credit report, asset statements, appraisal, and income documentation during the underwriting process. Your involvement in this process may depend on your situation. During this process, it is important to keep track of the status of your loan and provide documentation promptly when requested.


Step 5: Get Your Loan Closed (About 1 Week)

Upon clearing your appraisal and completing your lender's underwriting, it's time to close. A Closing Disclosure is the first document you will receive from your lender. The closing costs and APR of your loan are included in this document.


Ensure that you've read the Closing Disclosure with your lender and acknowledge that you've done so. Before the closing meeting, your lender must give you at least three days to read the Closing Disclosure.


A closing meeting will be scheduled after the 3-day window has passed. Your loan papers will be signed, your down payment and closing costs will be paid, and you'll take possession of your new home. If you have any last-minute questions about your loan agreement, you are welcome to ask them.

As soon as you finish your closing meeting, you become a homeowner.


Frequently Asked Questions


  • How long does it take to get a mortgage pre-approval?


Acquiring a mortgage pre-approval typically takes a day or two, involving a meticulous evaluation of your financial details, encompassing credit history, income, and debt.


  • Can I expedite the home-buying process?


While certain steps have predefined timelines, proactivity can expedite the overall process. Being prepared with all necessary documentation, maintaining financial stability, and promptly responding to lender requests can accelerate the timeline.


  • What factors influence the time spent searching for a home?


The duration of the home search is influenced by factors such as housing market conditions, the availability of homes, and individual preferences. Collaborating with a real estate agent can streamline and hasten this process.


  • How long does the closing process take?


The closing process typically spans about a week. However, variables like the type of loan and potential negotiations can impact the overall timeline.


Bottom Line

Comprehending the timeline of buying a house empowers prospective homeowners to navigate the process seamlessly. From meticulous financial preparations to the final closing, each step contributes to the realization of your dream of homeownership. Stay informed, collaborate with trusted professionals, and relish the journey as you step into the exciting world of owning your own home.

"Mortgage Dove makes home financing convenient for every American. You can count on us to provide a home buying experience tailored to your personal needs and financial situation. We strive to give you the peace of mind that your home financing goals can be achieved.”


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