From Dream To Keys: How Long Can It Take To Buy A House


When it comes to the question of how long can it take to buy a house, the answer varies, but it’s a significant decision that represents stability and the canvas for cherished memories. Whether it’s your first home or an upgrade, patience is vital. While the journey may seem daunting, buying a house can be shorter than you think. If you’re ready to transform your homeownership dreams into reality, let’s uncover the path to your future home.

how long can it take to buy a house

Obtaining Pre-Approval (8-10 days)

When contemplating how long can it take to buy a house in the USA, one of the initial and crucial steps is obtaining mortgage pre-approval. This essential process usually lasts 8 to 10 days, deciding mortgage eligibility and revealing borrowing capacity and interest rates.

To achieve mortgage pre-approval, you’ll need to gather essential documentation, including tax returns, pay stubs, credit reports, and bank statements. If buying a home with a partner, remember they must also provide these documents. Moreover, seeking pre-approval from multiple lenders and comparing their offers can help you secure the most favorable terms.

Remember, credit bureaus often count inquiries within a 14-day window as one, minimizing the impact on your credit score. Mortgage pre-approval details the type of mortgage, loan amount, and terms you qualify for. These pre-approvals generally remain valid for 90 days, although some may have shorter durations of 60 or 30 days.

Appoint A Real Estate Agent (7-14 days)

In your quest to determine how long does it take to buy a home, finding the right real estate agent is a pivotal step. Securing the ideal real estate agent can vary in timeline. It can take anywhere from several days to a few weeks. This timeline depends on the number of interviews conducted and the agent’s availability. Here are some tips for determining if you need an agent:

  • Seek Referrals: Begin by seeking recommendations from friends, family, and coworkers.
  • Research Online: Peruse online reviews to identify agents with solid track records in your area.
  • Interview Multiple Agents: Engage with at least three agents to assess their experience and communication skills.
  • Verify Credentials: Ensure you collaborate with a licensed agent in good standing within the real estate industry.
  • Assess Expertise: Look for an agent specializing in your desired home type and your intended local area.
  • Evaluate Communication: A reliable agent should be responsive, attentive, and skilled.
  • Decide on the Need: While having a real estate agent is often advantageous, consider your unique circumstances. If the seller is a relative, you’re familiar with the area, or you’re buying directly from a builder, you may not require an agent’s services.

Search for Your Dream Home (30-180 days)

When considering how long does it take to purchase a home, the house-hunting phase is a crucial factor, spanning from one to six months, with an average duration of around two to three months. Although it’s an exciting process, house hunting can be challenging. To streamline your search, thorough research and a clear understanding of your preferences are essential.

The timeline for finding your ideal home varies. Factors like market availability, time of year, budget, and your search method influence it. Typically, buyers spend ten weeks and visit five homes during their search. Open houses and agent-arranged appointments aid in market understanding and preference refinement. Credit inquiries in a 14-day window count as one, minimizing credit score impact. To optimize your search, adhere to these tips:

  • Focus on homes within your preapproved price range.
  • Define your preferred and non-negotiable areas.
  • Identify your essential criteria.

Submitting an Offer (3-30 days)

When figuring out how long it takes to buy a house, making an offer is a pivotal step. Once you’ve identified the home you want, it’s time to put in an offer. It includes sending an offer letter. The letter outlines sale terms, like price, closing costs, and needed repairs before closing. Typically, real estate agents handle the technical aspects of drafting the offer.

The offer letter lets the seller accept, reject, or counter your offer. Title search problems like liens can cause delays. So, when pondering how long can it take to buy a house, keep in mind that this step can vary in duration.

Your agent guides you, negotiating price and closing costs with the seller. Consider a personalized letter expressing your love for the home. Depending on cash or mortgage, attach proof of funds or a pre-approval letter to strengthen your offer. Be prepared for the seller’s response, whether it’s acceptance, rejection, or a counteroffer, and trust your agent all while you gauge how long can it take to buy a house.

Commence the Mortgage Process (30-60 days)

As you ponder how long does it take to buy a home, the next crucial phase is initiating the mortgage process, which typically spans 30 to 60 days. After successfully securing your dream home and accepting your offer, it’s time to delve into the intricate mortgage application process.

This phase involves obtaining an appraisal to assess the property’s value for your loan. It also includes navigating the detailed underwriting process. You’ll also provide earnest money during this stage, signifying a good-faith deposit towards the property.

With your offer accepted, the mortgage process unfolds. This phase involves obtaining an appraisal to assess the property’s value for your loan. It also includes navigating the detailed underwriting process. The lender will coordinate the appraisal and inspection while offering an estimate of your closing costs.

This step may take several weeks. Your lender may reach out via email or phone requesting documents. You’ll manage inspection and appraisal reports, dealing with any problems. Remember to inform the post office of your address change and handle new home utilities before closing.

The appraisal of the property is ordered to ascertain its value compared to the amount you’re borrowing. The appraisal takes a few hours, but the full report may take up to two weeks. A low appraisal may lead to negotiations, prolonging this step.

Underwriting follows the appraisal, scrutinizing your financial information for lender criteria compliance. This phase can range from a few days to several weeks, depending on the complexity of your financial situation. It encompasses a review of your debt-to-income ratio, employment history, and credit history to confirm your loan eligibility.

Stability is vital between pre-approval and underwriting. Changes can impact your application’s status. The lender may request additional documentation during underwriting, such as bank statements or tax returns. Staying responsive to these requests is essential to keep the process on track.

After approval, the lender sends a loan estimate. It details mortgage costs like interest, closing fees, and other charges. This marks a significant milestone as you progress in the how long does it take to buy a home timeline.

Arrange for a Home Inspection (7-14 days)

Home inspection is essential in the buying process. It usually takes 7-14 days after the seller accepts your offer. Unlike an appraisal, which assesses a home’s value, an inspection delves into the property’s condition, identifying areas needing repair or replacement. While it’s not mandatory, we highly recommend opting for an inspection to avoid potential pitfalls.

During inspection, a professional can assess the home within a day. However, allocating about a week or two for scheduling is prudent, ensuring the inspector’s availability flexibility. Although the inspection can be relatively quick, receiving the comprehensive report may take up to 10 days. Negotiating with the seller on repair requests can further extend this timeline.

While most mortgage lenders do not mandate home inspections, they may require them if the appraiser identifies areas of concern. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans in specific regions necessitate pest inspections as part of the process. Overall, the home inspection process plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth and informed homebuying journey, contributing to understanding how long does it take to buy a house in your particular case.

Closing The Deal (7 days)

As you near the culmination of your homebuying journey, the final stage involves closing on your new home, typically within a week. This crucial phase encompasses several essential steps and is a key determinant of how long will it take to buy a house:

  • Review the Closing Disclosure: Once your loan has undergone underwriting, you’ll receive a document known as the Closing Disclosure. This comprehensive report outlines the final terms of your loan, including the APR and closing costs. Take the time to thoroughly review this document and confirm your understanding with your lender. Legal regulations mandate that you have at least three business days to peruse the Closing Disclosure before the closing meeting.
  • Attend the Closing Meeting: You will attend the closing meeting at the designated time. During this session, you will sign the necessary loan documents, make your down payment, and cover the closing costs. After completing these formalities, you will receive the keys to your new home, marking your official transition to homeowner status.
  • Final Walk-Through: On the day of closing or the day before, conducting a final walk-through of the property is advisable. This step ensures that we have completed any agreed-upon repairs and that no new damages have occurred.
  • Distribution of Funds: After the closing, the entity responsible for managing the funds (typically a settlement agent, escrow firm, or title company) will disburse all relevant payments. This includes transferring the mortgage funds to the appropriate parties, with deductions for any lender fees and third-party expenses.

The closing process is generally swift and efficient, lasting up to a week. However, certain complications may potentially extend the timeline, including:

  • Low Appraisal: If the property’s appraised value falls below the offer amount.
  • Challenging Inspection Findings: When inspection reports reveal complex issues that require extensive negotiation between the buyer and seller.
  • Title Search Problems: Issues such as liens, outstanding taxes, or debts are identified during the title search.
  • Financial Changes: Changes in the borrower’s financial circumstances after pre-approval affect the loan offer.
  • Agreement Breakdown: If any party involved in the transaction decides to withdraw from the agreement.

The closing process is the final gateway to homeownership, ensuring a smooth transition from buyer to homeowner.

how long can it take to buy a house

Preparing for Your Move (7-60 days)

As you near the end of the homebuying journey, begin preparing for your move. This step can last from one week to two months. It includes scheduling movers, notifying the post office of your change of address, and arranging utilities for your new home. Proper preparation ensures a smoother transition. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Schedule Your Move: Reach out to a local moving company to arrange the logistics of your move. This ensures a smooth transition to your new home.
  • Update Your Address: Notify the post office of your upcoming address change to ensure your mail is forwarded to your new residence.
  • Set Up Utilities: Research and organize the setup of utilities in your new home, including electricity, water, and gas.
  • Notify Your Landlord: Review your lease agreement if you are renting to understand the notice period needed for moving out. Typically, you must provide at least 30 days’ notice to your landlord.

While these steps are crucial for a seamless transition, it’s essential to be aware of potential delays in the homebuying process, which can impact how long does it take to purchase a home. Some common reasons for delays include:

  • Financing Issues: These can encompass challenges related to your credit score, down payment, or delays in obtaining pre-approval for a mortgage.
  • Home Inspection Findings: If the home inspection uncovers issues, it may take time to negotiate repairs or decide on the next steps in the purchase.
  • Appraisal Concerns: In cases where the home doesn’t appraise for the agreed-upon price, negotiations may be necessary to revise the terms of the sale.
  • Title Problems: This category includes issues identified during the title search, such as liens, judgments, or legal complications.

To minimize these potential delays and understand how long does it take to buy a home, consider these proactive steps:

  • Prepare Essential Documents: Ensure all required paperwork, including bank statements, proof of income, and tax records, are readily available.
  • Communication: Keep your lender informed of any changes in your financial situation to prevent unforeseen issues.
  • Work with Trusted Professionals: Partner with a dependable real estate agent and lender to receive guidance. Effective communication between you, your agent, and your lender is vital.

Use Google Calendar alerts to keep track of important dates for a smoother home buying process. These reminders can cover inspection deadlines, underwriting milestones, and appraisal-related events. 


In the ever-evolving landscape of real estate, predicting how long can it take to buy a house is akin to chasing a shooting star. It could take six months to a year, contingent on market dynamics and your unique criteria. Ultimately, it’s not just about the destination; it’s about the adventure, the learning, and the anticipation that make this journey to homeownership uniquely yours.