A home purchase is the single most significant financial decision for most people. It’s a massive deal, so much so that the excitement is the same whether it’s your first or third time buying a house.
Part of the uniqueness of buying a home is how complex things can get. You might not know the proper steps to take at specific points or where to begin the process correctly.
We’ve highlighted crucial steps that make up a typical home buying process timeline. It’s in the hopes that they can assist you in preparing correctly for the twists and turns you may encounter.
First Phase in Home Buying Timeline
The first phase in the home buying timeline is the preliminary stage. It often lasts for six months, allowing you to move toward owning your own home. Some of the essential steps in the first phase include:
You must assess your financial situation as the foremost step in the buying a house timeline. It’s best to do it even before you begin house hunting across various property markets. The goal is to determine how much you can afford to pay for the property.
However, real estate agents are quick to tell you that your decision making should go beyond the amount you’ve saved up for a down payment. You must also consider the purchase closing costs, insurance fees, and accompanying taxes. Generally, the prospective buyer should prepare for all the other unforeseen bills throughout the purchase process.
Furthermore, it’s best to prioritise personal finance and get your credit report in order. Fill out your taxes, pay down your credit cards, and have a healthy paper trail of your recent big purchases.
Six months before the purchase closing date is an excellent time to seek pre-approval on the house you intend to buy. The recommendation is to secure one even before you begin house hunting, as it allows you to better weigh your options against the down payment you have to make.
Also, a pre-approval gives property sellers the impression that you’re qualified and ready to close the purchase on the house as quickly as possible.
However, you might need to take precautions when seeking a mortgage pre-approval. While your bank may be a viable option to help you buy a house, they may not have the best mortgage terms for your needs. You can do better by looking around for the best mortgage lender.
Also, pre-approvals expire. Check your pre-approval document for its expiration date. If you’ve passed the date, you will need to reapply.
The second phase begins after you’ve secured a mortgage pre-approval. Typically, it’s about three months from finalizing the purchase. The second phase includes:
Finding a Buyer’s Agent
The buyer’s agent is a professional real estate agent who can represent you throughout the home purchase process. It’s essential to get a competent buyer’s agent, as they have ample knowledge of the area, and they can get you some of the best leasing deals.
Also, getting a competent real estate agent means you have someone with much better negotiation skills who can make sure the terms of the sale are in your favor.
Begin House Search in Earnest
Now is when you can search for the house you would like to purchase. It helps to use parameters to make the search easier. Do you prefer homes in Texas or Florida? How many bedrooms do you need? These questions can streamline your results more effectively.
Also, decide if you prefer the house in a school district or a suburban neighborhood. If you have a large family, consider owning a condo or a single-family home.
Visit Open Houses and Take Property Tours
You can also go and see houses. Open houses and homes tours allow you to adjust your expectations more realistically. However, some of the features may be confusing, especially when you’ve checked out multiple homes.
It could help if you make notes as you tour each property. Also, you can try to discuss with your real estate agent to see what they think about the houses you visited.
The third phase in the home buying process timeline is the critical decision point. Some of the steps to take during the third phase include:
Pre-Approval Application Submission
The third home-buying phase is when you submit your pre-approval application to the seller. Bear in mind that each application has its expiration date, which could be between 60 and 90 days. However, you can reapply for a new pre-approval if you miss the date while searching for a home.
Official Offer Submission
At this point, you have probably found the dream home that checks all your boxes. It’s time to make an offer to the seller. It’s essential to make a purchase offer as soon as possible, especially in a highly competitive housing market that has limited property listings.
You could consult your buyer’s agent, who should share better insights on the deal and how you can get a better deal. Overall, you will be working closely with your real estate agent to draft an offer letter to send to the seller’s agent.
Start the Negotiation
Send an offer to the seller and expect a counter-offer, indicating that the deal is open to negotiations. Typically, the seller may suggest changes to the down payment you’re offering.
In some other cases, they may want a different closing date or contract terms. Expect the negotiation to go back and forth before both parties agree on a particular period.
Close the Process
Generally, the buyer starts the closing process once they and the seller agree on the purchase terms. The closing process lasts between 30 to 45 days, during which time you should keep in touch with your real estate agent and mortgage lender.
The fourth phase usually kicks in about one month before the final closing date. It includes the following steps:
Earnest Money Deposit
You pay earnest money once a seller has accepted your purchase offer. The money shows that you’re committed to seeing the process through to the closing date.
You deposit the earnest money in an escrow account or give it to a listing agent. Once you complete the home purchase, the earnest money gets put towards your closing costs.
The escrow company between the buyer and the seller must give a preliminary title report to the buyer. You’d generally receive the notification within seven days from when you accept the offer. When you finally close the purchase, the escrow company or a representing attorney will give you a final title policy.
Inspection is a crucial step during this phase of your home purchase. That’s because it allows you to identify any material damage or repair needs around the house before paying for it.
You must pay attention to the things you find during a home inspection. In most jurisdictions the buyer is responsible for investigating and detecting material defects during an inspection.
If you found issues, you can rnegotiate with the seller on certain repair costs. You may also ask for concessions or pull out from the sale entirely.
Signing the Purchase Agreement
When you feel it’s time to finalize the home purchase with the seller, put pen to paper and sign a purchase agreement. The signature shows that both parties are happy with the negotiation.
The next step is to visit your equal housing lender to finalize the mortgage application started by your pre-approval. The lending party will request an appraisal before releasing the home loan, so consider scheduling one immediately.
One or two weeks to the closing day heralds the final phase in the homebuying process timeline. The following are steps you need to know about the last stage:
A professional appraiser from your lender will come around to determine the home’s market value. They arrive at a price by comparing property sales in the neighborhood.
Typically, you get the mortgage loan approval after the appraisal is complete and the lender receives all the necessary documents. This process should last about two weeks.
Final Property Walkthrough
While it’s not a thorough inspection, a final walk-through is necessary on the home, as it enables you to confirm that the property’s state hasn’t changed and the projected repairs and updates are in place. The property walkthrough is the last step towards the scheduled closing day, often only 24 hours apart.
On the closing day, all you have to do is present a government-issued ID and other related documents. Pay the closing costs and prepare to sign the necessary paperwork with the escrow company and the seller. When that’s complete, you’ll receive the keys to your dream home.
A home purchase has a series of intricate steps a buyer must understand. While they may seem like there are a lot, most of the above points are straightforward, with one seamlessly leading to the next. So the next time you might want to buy a house or if this is your first property purchase, knowing how the timeline works will help you be prepared. Good luck!
You may get stuck with any of the homebuying steps along the way, but that shouldn’t discourage you. Homes by Ardor provides clear property purchase solutions, thanks to our seasoned real estate agents.
We offer reliable real estate services, whether you’re trying to buy or sell a house. If you’re looking to complete the purchase on your dream home, Homes by Ardor can handle all negotiations and documentation with the seller on your behalf. Reach out today and get help getting your dream home sooner.
Kris Reid is the CEO of Ardor SEO, a company that helps real estate professionals get more leads and customers to predictably grow their business.
Over the years, Kris acquired extensive knowledge of SEO and its practical applications in various industries, with the main focus on real estate.
In 2021 Ardor launched the Icons of Real Estate Podcast to share proven strategies from the top producing icon agents with the real estate community.
After obtaining the real estate license in 2022, Kris joined eXp Realty and launched Homes by Ardor, the platform that was built to be the fastest way to buy or sell a house. Homes by Ardor also provides leads for its partner companies and realtors.
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