How long does it take to buy a house?

posted 7 months ago in Home
Post # 16
Member
3666 posts
Sugar bee

I skimmed through, so forgive if I’m being repetitive, but I would focus less on your downpayment percent and more on what monthly budget you can really afford. Don’t forget to factor in property taxes and insurance with any house you’re looking at. Roughly 1/3 of our house payment every month is taxes and insurance, so this can add up. You also don’t want to move with nothing in your account for improvements. We spent 25K in our first year in our home just fixing crap…it sucked. It’s crazy how many random expenses show up when you move. Rates are also a bit wonky, but have lowered recently, so it may be better for you to look now than later. I would talk to a couple of mortgage brokers or research forecasted rates for the year. This could be much more important than your down payment percentage as you can save hundreds of dollars a month over 30 years if you can lock in a decent rate. 

The actual process to purchase can be quick. Get pre-approved for a mortgage in a day, could write an offer and get it accepted in a day, have your inspection in a day, renegotiate for inspection items, and could close anywhere from weeks to months, and that’s it. It’s pretty simple. It took us a week to negotiate on our house cause the seller was a jackass, we then had 30 days to do the inspection and negotiate, and we closed two weeks after that. 

Also, don’t look unless you have a firm grasp on what you can afford and would be ready to actually make an offer. I flirted with the idea of moving recently, found a house I was in love with, and it was totally sad when it was under contract immediately as I was in no position to write an offer that fast. Budget, pre-approval, then shop.

Post # 17
Member
14940 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

As others have mentioned, the long leg of this process will probably be finding the house you want, and then when the sellers are ready to close will be completely unknown.  We started looking around April and didn’t find anything we wanted until August.  And that was after we looked at every single house in the 4-5 towns we wanted to be in that met our criteria and was waiting for new ones to come on the market, and then deciding to up our budget about 20% over our initial very conservative (maybe unrealistic for our wants) budget.  Then from seeing the house, making an offer the next day, to closing was exactly 4 weeks.

Post # 18
Member
7879 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

keikochan :  that’s a hefty must-have list! If you want all that in a starter home then I would definitely start looking on the earlier side – it will either give you more time to find that perfect home and/or help you narrow the must have lists. For us the location was key and we had to give up the garage to get it. You might be willing to commute a little longer to work and think that’s worth it to have the garage. There is no right answer, but we were able to focus our must-haves after going to a bunch of open houses. 

Post # 20
Member
7879 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

keikochan :  I guess it depends on your area. For my area a “starter home” (meaning the lowest range available) that list wouldn’t be possible at all but we really focused on being in the best school system we could afford within a certain radius of Boston. If proximity to a major metro area isn’t a must-have (and it is so important for me that I forget it isn’t for other people lol) then it might not be that hefty of a list. 

We bought what is likely our forever home first and there is nothing wrong with that! We’re doing lots of renovations but we honestly can’t afford our town now because it has gotten so popular so we either stay put or move way out to the boonies. 

Post # 22
Member
871 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

For us, it took about 7mo from the time we started looking to closing day. But we also made official offers on 6 homes before buying the 7th. Low inventory in our price range turned nearly every home into a bidding war. and we backed out of one home after an inspection revealed more issues than we thought and the seller wasn’t willing to fix them or change the price.

Post # 23
Member
7879 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

keikochan :  hahaha, for us it’s purely practical! For my career (paralegal) I make at least double in the city compared to the suburbs and I hate having a long commute. Plus being further out in the suburbs wouldn’t save us enough on housing to even out the drop in pay to work outside the city. 

Post # 24
Member
864 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2019

I think the other bees have given you good advice.  I think there can be such a wide range in how much time it takes depending on how much inventory meets your needs and how things end up in negotations.  It ended up taking me a couple of years because it turned out the kinds of places I loved weren’t that common (I like vintage buildings with charm but new construction is more common) and one thing that was a non-negotiable for me (big kitchen) was also more rare.  And the first 2 places I made offers on we couldn’t come to an agreement on price.  But literally all my friends found their places much quicker than I did.  For me I had experience selling a place when the market bottomed out so I wanted a place that I felt confident I could live in for a long time.

For me the one thing that was odd was that your partner suddenly sees himself loving his job for years and years to come.  I’d dig more into what made him make that change because that seems like a pretty big shift from not being sure how you feel about it.  If you bought would he be willing to stay at a job he didn’t love or find another job in the area?  If it were me I’d probably want to wait a bit to make sure his perspective was one that stuck.  Things change so I don’t think I’d ever feel confident saying I want to stay at a job for years and years, BUT the stability of homeownership and where we live is important to me so I’m willing to make compromises with my job to stay here.

Post # 25
Hostess
3833 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

keikochan :  We live in a HCOL area as well where houses are sold before they’re even listed and if they are listed, last a day or two.  I would say we were “looking” online to see prices, trends, and decide on neighborhoods for about two years.  Once we had our savings in place we found a house almost right away and closed within 30 days (with financing).  Not sure if that helps you, but I would start looking in January and just keep saving until you find something you love.  I know in HCOL areas, bidding wars are pretty common so you may not end up with the first house you put an offer on, though having a cash offer will definitely help you there. 

Post # 26
Member
272 posts
Helper bee

There is nothing wrong with having a longer must have list!  My husband and I did, and I think it actually helped make our hunt easier.  We began the process simply perusing Zillow- comparing square feet/cost in the various towns we were considering.  We determined how much fixing up we were willing to take one.  We compared different layouts.  We spent months doing this research, as we were in the same mindset as you are-  not looking to immediately purchase, but in the near future. However, a house came on the market that met all of our must have criteria, really checked all our boxes.  We saw the house a few days later, and put an offer in that day.  We literally bought the first house we saw!  Granted, we live in a higher cost of living area where houses aren’t sitting on the market for more than a week, two weeks max.  But by doing our homework, and getting our ducks in a row, we were able to move fast when the perfect opportunity arose.  I think you are in the perfect situation to do the same as well

Post # 27
Member
737 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

I don’t think your must have lists are particularly long, but I do think they are things most people will want – good school areas can get expensive/move quickly, being off from a main road etc. 

It’s taken my husband and I nearly 3 years between deciding we wanted to buy versus when we’ll move in to our house. Our budget went up three times in that time. Partly it was due to job moves, wedding planning etc, but also nothing ticked our very specific lists and we weren’t in a hurry to compromise. The actual paperwork bit has been really quick, it’s the looking that’s taken forever

Post # 28
Member
358 posts
Helper bee

I had a pretty easy experience. Shopped for 2 weeks. I think it took me about 5-6 weeks to buy after putting in offer… I set my budget low since I was single… so I had a ton of houses to pick from with low competition, though. 

Post # 29
Member
1330 posts
Bumble bee

It’s too variable for anyone to be able to give you a realistic guide. If your list is realistic for your budget then it shouldn’t take you more than a few months unless you’re extremely picky or it’s a sellers market and houses are selling within days of going on the market.

We were casually looking for houses for a few months so we had a good idea of what we could afford and what we wanted, when it came to seriously viewing houses I would say it took us a few weeks. Arranging viewings was hard as I finish work at 5 and the latest most estate agents would book them for was 4.30-5, so we would really make sure the house and area was something we were seriously interested in before actually arranging to view it as I had to finish work early. We officially viewed three houses, but we looked at around 10-15 (when I say looked I mean we drove to the house and looked at the surrounding neighbourhood, but never went inside) and we are buying the third house we viewed. We had our offer accepted the end of January and we still haven’t got a move in date yet due to having to change mortgage lenders at the last minute.

We have been lucky in that we live in a relatively low cost area and it’s a buyers market at the moment due to Brexit and low interest rates. We didn’t have too many requirements either tbh, we wanted a three bed 1930’s semi or Victorian terrace, a drive way, garden, the ability to add value and location wise we just wanted it in a decent enough area in the leafy suburbs with good public transport links to the hospital I work, so our search area was quite large. We don’t care about schools as we don’t have kids and would probably move again before having them as this is just a starter home. Obviously the smaller your search area and the longer or more rare your requirements the longer it will take. 

Post # 30
Member
1116 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2019 - USA

keikochan :  Once you have decided what your house criteria, budget, and location are, you can decide what your pace is with your real estate agent and start scheduling viewings as soon as you’d like. We started seriously looking and put our first offer in about a month into house hunting, we had seen about three houses before we made our first offer.

As for closing, the time period really depends on how long it takes you to get financing and then how long it takes to go under contract when you submit your offer. Typically you’d secure your financing before you submit an offer. There is no “normal” when it comes to house hunting, though, it just happens when it happens. Sometimes your offer will be rejected or undercut by someone who is willing to pay more. That happened with our first offer before we found our home but it only set us back a week or so. We went under contract for our home in August and didn’t close on the house until November because it was a short sale. But my parents went under contract for their house and closed in two weeks. It could take as little as a few weeks or it could take months. 

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