How long does it take to buy a house?

posted 6 months ago in Home
Post # 2
64 posts
Worker bee

Just because you start looking in the winter doesn’t mean you actually need to buy in the winter, so I wouldn’t worry about lower inventory.

We bought a condo a few years ago in the Boston area. Extremely low inventory in our price range. Each week there were only a handful of places in the price range. With low inventory almost everything got multiple offers/a bidding war.  We put down 3 offers before we finally got a place, and have friends who had to do more.

In my area stuff sells more slowly in winter, so you can also get a better price and also be less stressed.  When we were buying houses were going up for sale wednWedne and iffers would be due Monday. Not a lot of time. And super stressful.

For you I would start looking casually now. Not to buy, but to figure out what you guys like/need, and also if your expectations for the price/area are reasonable. If there is low inventory you will have to decide fast when the time comes. Doing some ground work now will make it easier to make those quick decisions. Is this first place really awesome or not? Hard to do research when you have like 3 days. Best thing we did with house shopping was go to open houses sporadically for a couple years prior. Gave me reasonable expectations. And steered me away from some stuff.

Any reason you don’t want to start looking at 20% down payment? That would be this summer if you guys are saving at the same clip?

Basically, start going to open houses now to get a feel. And start looking seriously as soon as you get the cash.   And get a good agent before you’re ready for serious house shopping. They’ll get everything lined up for you to be ready, and be able to help you figure out your market. Hell call one now with this question.

And it took 5 months of seriously looking to find a place. Close sing takes 1-2 months. We have friends who looked much longer.

Good luck!

Post # 4
64 posts
Worker bee

Ok so that def makes sense why you want to wait past 20%. I would still tart looking around after you come down for the wedding to start getting an idea of what is out there. Glad you guys are factoring in moving and closing costs, those were fun.  Cash offer is likely to make your house hunting easier (if I am inderstunders correctly, your family member lends you money to pay cash, you pay family member back?) Sellers are more likely to take an all cash offer than a financed one. But yeah, talk to family member in of advance of when you plan to start looking, and get a realtor for when you start browsing.

Do you love in an area with old houses or are these starter homes pretty new? I saw something the other day that said you should expect to spent 1% of the purchase price of your house on house maintenance a year. Definitely true of my 100 year old condo, might be more.  AndAnd everyth is more expensive to renovate as well.

Post # 5
264 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

We have been kind of looking for a new house for the better part of 2 years.  We’ve looked at numerous new housing developments as well as been to numerous open houses.  We currently own, but our house is really tiny.  We’ve been hesitant to make the move due to going through IVF which we are paying out of pocket for.  We have a really good friend who is a realtor, and she set us up with an MLS listing  email of houses in our price range several months ago.  

Last week we saw a few listings that caught our eye, so we decided to check out some open houses this past Saturday. Long story short, we found a house we absolutely loved, in our top neighborhood, and below our budget!  We immediately called our friend, and we had an appointment to go back to look at the house again the next day with her, and we put an offer in that night, they countered and we accepted yesterday morning.  We got pre approved on Sunday morning because we hadn’t even done that yet.  Bottom line, things can move very quickly if you’ve done your homework and know where you want to live.  It’s also helpful to find a realtor before hand, so that if you happen to find the perfect home, you have someone already lined up.  We were just expecting to casually look at homes, and we ended up putting an offer in.  Now we are scrambling to get our house listed in the next 7 days!

Post # 7
182 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

I would say definitely go look at houses in person as soon as possible. They don’t have to be any you’re super interested in buying, but going to open houses was way different from browsing online for me and helped me get a better idea of what I wanted.

It’s really hard to say how long it will take to buy a house because it’s so different depending on the market and the people. My market is similar to yours (very low inventory but slightly lower cost of living) and competition for those “starter homes” is FIERCE. We looked very, very seriously and prioritized house hunting above almost everything, we had very few “must-have” requirements, and it still took us over 6 months. I think it could have easily taken much longer if we hadn’t gotten very lucky or if we were more picky about the areas/features of houses.

If you are able to present your offer as a cash offer, that is a big advantage. If you are not, that may be a turn-off for some sellers as it is an unusual financing situation and they may be worried about it falling through.


Post # 8
1067 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2017 - A vineyard

For it took less than a month. But we are under the impression the owner wanted the condo out of her hair really badly  because of how fast the whole thing went. 

Post # 9
7651 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

keikochan :  the biggest unknown is how long it will take you to find a house you like and have an offer accepted. Some people it’s a few weeks and others it can take years – it depends on your budget, market, and house requirements. Once you have the accepted offer though it’s usually 4-6 weeks to finalize financing, get the home inspection, and scheduling the closing. 

allston :  we’re also in the Boston area and I have friends that put in 30 offers before finally getting a house a couple years ago. Even going over asking price they still kept getting outbid! One of our good friends bought a condo in Allston and only got it because the seller wanted a person, not a developer, otherwise there was no way he could outbid them. 

Post # 11
3210 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

keikochan :  depends. My area is extremely competitive. I know people who have been looking for over a year and losing homes, a friend recently offered 35k over asking and just got beat out. 

That said we started looking in January and we’ve lived in our house for a month and a half now. We got preapproved on a Tuesday, looked at the first house Thursday, put in an offer (1 of 7) on Friday morning and it got accepted Friday afternoon. We closed 30 days later and moved in that day. 

Post # 12
184 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

It really depends on your area and how willing to compromise you are. Do you have a long list of non-negotiables and are there a lot of houses on the market that meet your requirements? If so, you will probably be ok to wait until June. But if it’s a tight market, start looking ASAP. You don’t need to physically view every house on Zillow- just the ones that meet your criteria. Find a good agent who can work around your schedule and do showing in the evenings or weekends.

For reference, we’ve been approved and looking for about 3 months. It’s a competitive area and we’re pretty picky about what we want. In the neighborhood we’re looking, you basically need to wait for someone to die, and then compete with 40 other young couples for the house. The houses are also older and many have hidden issues. We were under contract for one house but walked away after the inspection, and got outbid on 3 others. Initially, we were going to a lot of showings to figure out what we wanted, but we have a better idea now, so it’s just waiting for something good to hit the market.

Post # 14
6799 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2016

keikochan :  I’ll just let you know the timeline when we bought a house last summer (Chicago suburb). We had to sell our place too so while we were looking online casually while our house was on the market, we didn’t want to actually start legitimately looking until we had a real offer on our house and a closing date on the horizon. We specifically requested a closing date a little farther out than the norm (30 days) so we’d have time to find our new house. Then we hit the ground running! We also had a mortgage pre-approval so that helped. 

June 16: Went on our first house-hunting round. Didn’t see anything we liked but it helped us figure out what we DIDN’T want in a house. Very helpful!

June 19: Saw a few more houses. One we liked quite a bit but needed lots of work. 

June 23: Saw more houses. FELL IN LOVE with one and made an offer that night. 

June 24: They accepted our offer!

Within the next 10 days: Inspection, earnest money…

August 23: Closing! The seller wanted a longer closing time, otherwise it would’ve been the beginning of August. 

August 24: Moved in! 🙂



Post # 15
2463 posts
Buzzing bee

I personally would start in January. It took us five months of house hunting for our first home. You will have the funds if you find something you love and you can continue to save up while you look. 


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