PenFed Mortgage with Confidence

Getting Started, Homebuying 101, First Time Homebuyer

How Long Does It Take to Buy a Home?

What You'll Learn: Buying a Home Has Several Steps, Know What They are and How to be Prepared. From Getting Your Financing in Order to Closing and Getting Your Keys.


How Long Does It Take to Buy a Home?

Every market is different, but on average, it takes 3 to 4 months to find a home and have an offer accepted. From that point – add another 30 to 45 days to get through escrow and close on your home. Of course, this is just an average. Some buyers find a home faster. Others take much longer. Read on to discover the steps of buying a house and how you can be best prepared. 

Financing Comes First

Before you start shopping, you need to get your financing lined up. Getting a solid pre-approval from a trusted lender is vital. Once you have that, you’ll know how much you can afford and what price range you should look in. 

During this time, make sure you don’t do anything that would change your financial situation or jeopardize your financing. That means you shouldn’t run up the balances of your credit cards or open any new credit card accounts. And don’t buy a new vehicle – that extra payment could cost you your loan. 

Once you’re in your new home, you can do whatever you want. It’s also wise to stay in your current job. In other words, don’t make any significant changes that would impact your loan. When in doubt – contact your loan officer and let them know your plans. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s OK or not. 

Learn About the Real Estate Market 

It’s wise to know the market so that you'll recognize it when a good deal comes along. Watch online listing platforms like Zillow,, Redfin, and Trulia for the areas you’re interested in. 

Being well educated on the housing market also helps you from having unrealistic expectations. That’s especially important in a sellers’ market where homes are being sold within days of listing. If it’s a scorching market, it’s good to have a plan in mind as far as being able to see homes as soon as they come on the market. 

If real estate is red hot, you may be stepping into bidding wars. In that case, it’s wise to look at homes that are less expensive in case you have to offer more. You can also check out other areas that you may not have considered at first. They might not be as competitive. 

And when it’s a buyers’ market, being familiar with how long properties are on the market and how much sellers are willing to negotiate makes shopping easier. You may be able to look at homes in a little higher price range and negotiate the price down. 

The Importance of a Good Realtor

Having a realtor that you can trust is vital and can make the difference in getting the home you want. One thing to know is that an experienced realtor may not be as available as a newer agent in a seller's market. But the experienced agent will probably have better-negotiating skills. 

New agents have the time to help you find a home but will have less experience than some of the more seasoned agents. It’s always good to ask an experienced agent how much time they’ll have to spend with you. And ask a newer agent if their broker is available to help if needed in negotiating. 

So, keep these points in mind when selecting your agent. Ask the right questions and choose the best realtor for you. 

Get Ready to Shop

Now comes the fun part. It’s time to look at homes. Keep in mind that properties will probably look better when you view them online than when you see it in person. Images can be enhanced. And depending on the lens and vantage point, rooms can look much bigger. 

It’s not a bad idea to do a drive-by before you have your agent arrange a showing. That in itself will save you time. 

Make a list of things you don’t want to compromise on, like:

  • Location ­– select an excellent neighborhood
  • Good School District – if you have kids
  • Commute Time – for those who go into the office
  • Home Type (single-family, townhome, condo)

If you’re willing to look at almost every type of home and location, you might be surprised to find other options you never considered before. For example – maybe you were only looking at single-story homes, but then you find a two-story that you love. Or, at first, you never looked at gated communities but then discovered one that was a perfect fit. 

Once You’re in Escrow

As soon as your offer is accepted, you’ll most likely have 30 to 45 days to close. Once the contract is signed, the clock starts ticking. Although a home inspection isn’t required in many states, it’s still a smart idea to get one. That way, you’ll know what needs to be addressed right away and what expenses you could have down the road. 

Next is the appraisal. Once you have the home inspection and appraisal, you may want to negotiate with the seller. For example, if the roof won’t last more than two years, the lender may not lend on it. In that case, the buyer’s and seller’s real estate agents may start negotiating to see who pays for roof repairs or a new roof. 

During this time, stay in close communication with your loan officer. Make sure to get them whatever they need quickly. And don’t pack away any important paperwork like W2s or taxes. Keep any documents that might be needed close at hand. 

Here’s a smart tip to lessen your stress. If you’re renting, don’t give notice until your home closes. Although you’ll have an extra month of rent to pay, you can move at your leisure. Plus, if your closing is delayed – you’re not homeless with all of your belongings in a truck. 

Having correct expectations along with a good lender and realtor will make your home buying experience a success. 

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    1Rates are updated daily at 10:15am EST. The advertised rates and points are subject to change. The information provided is based on discount point, which equals percent of the loan amount, and assumes the purpose of the loan is to purchase a property with a 30-year, conforming, fixed-rate loan. Loan amount of $400,000; loan-to-value ratio of 75%; credit score of 760; and DTI of 18% or less. The property is an existing single-family home and will be used as a primary residence. The advertised rates are based on certain assumptions and loan scenarios, and the rate you may receive will depend on your individual circumstances, including your credit history, loan amount, down payment, and our internal credit criteria. Other rates, points, and terms may be available. All loans are subject to credit and property approval.