Buying a house is undoubtedly one of the most exciting experiences a person can have. However, it is also one of the most expensive decisions you will make, so it isn’t surprising that this process takes time.
Whether you are a first-time buyer or you are already on your second house hunt, the homebuying journey can feel particularly long and daunting. There is always the possibility of dealing with lots of delays and complications, all of which can slow down the whole process.
So, the main question is—how long does it take to find the right house and what can you do to make things go smoothly?
To get an idea of the average homebuying timeline, read on to learn what to expect when looking for a new house.
Planning a budget
The homebuying process starts with preparing your budget. If you are lucky enough to already have a down payment, which is typically at least 10-20% of your home price, then you can easily move on to the next step.
However, if you don’t have enough financial assets, then this may be the longest task in the entire process you have to complete. Saving up for a down payment can take up to a few years and requires planning your budget carefully ahead of time.
Finding a real estate agent
Because the homebuying process is long and overwhelming, it is best that you rely on the expertise of a real estate agent to guide you along. Although this task usually takes a few days to complete, it is advised that you invest your time in interviewing multiple agents before settling on the one you believe best fits your situation.
When you are conducting your interviews, make sure you ask the real estate agents about their years of expertise, how many homes they have closed so far, and what qualifications or certifications they have.
Searching for a home
Probably the most exciting part of the homebuying process is searching for your home. This task typically takes around two to three months, which is understandable because shopping for a house is a huge commitment. To make things easier, you can make a list of things your new home should have.
For instance, think about the number of rooms you need, where the location of the property is, what the school district is like, and the type of transportation that fits your lifestyle.
Making an offer
Once you have found the right house for you, your next step is to make a formal offer through your real estate agent as soon as possible. This offer is an agreement between you and the seller, which they may accept, reject or counter. If they accept your offer, then it will take a few days until the deal is official.
However, if the seller makes a counteroffer, then you will probably find yourself in a juggling act, going back and forth to negotiate the best deal that suits both parties. If this happens, the process could take longer.
Exchanging contracts is the legal part of the homebuying process where you mainly sit in the background and allow your solicitor to take the reins to close the deal faster. This task can take up to four weeks because of the several legalities that need to be completed.
Besides this, there are other things that happen during this stage such as making inquiries about the status of the property, if there are any planning permissions, and paying off the deposit. When these tasks are completed, both you and the vendor will sign a legally binding document that makes you the official owner of the property.
Completing the sale
Although you have signed all important contracts, you still won’t be able to move into your home just yet. There are other things that you have to do first, such as ordering a home inspection, getting home insurance, and doing some final checks to make sure everything is in order.
Also, this is the stage where you pay off the rest of the money for the property and get the title deeds and proof that the vendor’s mortgage has been cleared.
3 Main Financial Things To Check Before You Buy A New House
Buying a new house is a long-term financial commitment. Whether you’re buying a house for the first time, whether you’re shifting from one house to another or whether you’re just purchasing a new house as an investment, it is always a daunting process. While you can always hire estate agents to make the job easier, these could be estate agents in Bicester or agents in Bristol, the process of buying a house is still tedious. You need to have all your finances in order, you need to be sure of this long-term investment and you need to do a lot of research before you take the next step. If you’re thinking about buying a new house this year, make sure to keep these 3 financial factors in mind.
1. Can I afford to buy this house: Account for the cost of everything
Stick to a simple rule of thumb – the value of the new house should not be more than three times the value of your annual income. Let’s say your annual income is $150,000, then you should not even consider buying a property that costs more than $450,000. By sticking to this simple rule of thumb, you will be able to pay your mortgage, the initial deposit (which can be anywhere between 5 per cent to 15 per cent) and all the other costs that are part and parcel of the buying process. Do not forget to factor in costs like stamp duty, legal fees, real estate agent fees, surveyor fees, the cost of maintenance and repairs, the cost of moving, home insurance, initial cleaning costs and so on. Once you have bought the house, you need to consider monthly expenses like utility bills, wifi bills, council tax, parking fees and so on. Be sure to do thorough research so that these additional costs do not burn a deep hole in your pockets.
2. What is my current credit score: The higher the score, the higher the chances of pre-approval
You need to start working on your credit score at least 8 to 10 months in advance. That means, paying all your bills on time, clearing your credit card payments, clearing off any pending debts and make sure you don’t miss making any payments. Usually, a credit score that is higher than 740 is considered very good. If you have a good credit score record, it will be much easier for you to apply for a mortgage and possibly even get pre-approval. Also, a good credit score often means that you will get attractive mortgage offers in terms of a lower rate of interest or even some special rates. If a lender sees that you are capable of paying back the mortgage within a given time period, they will be more willing to loan you that amount without hesitation, at a lower rate of interest. If your credit score is low, there is a high possibility that your mortgage application could even be rejected.
3. How much can I afford to borrow: How much can you afford to pay back every month
Mortgage lenders base the loan amount on a simple loan to income ratio. You can borrow three to five times your income, but usually lenders cap this amount at four and a half times your income. So, let’s assume you make $150,000 – that means, you will most likely get a loan that will be between $450,000 to $750,000. To decide the final amount, lenders will analyze your yearly income, what your monthly personal expenses are, your credit score and your ability to pay back the loan. While the lenders are doing their job, you need to assess how much you can afford to borrow. If you are going to borrow $500,000, how long will it take you to pay back the principal amount coupled with the monthly interest? Will you be able to pay this amount monthly, without burning a hole in your pocket? Does this mortgage allow you to live comfortably, pay your other expenses and still save? Would you rather pay this amount over 5 years or 15 years? You need to consider all these factors before you accept the terms and conditions of the mortgage. Without proper research and understanding, you might be stuck paying off your loans without having enough money for your daily expenses.
You should also get a property valuation and a property survey before you sign any final contracts. A property valuation will basically tell you the approximate price of that property in the market – if the seller is asking for more, this property valuation will give you an upper hand when it comes to negotiating. You should also hire a property surveyor to survey the property – this will ensure due diligence from your end. After all, you don’t want to build your property on someone else’s land and end up paying a costly price for that.
All in all, the homebuying process can last up to six months or more, depending on how fast and smoothly things are going. To ensure everything stays in order, hire a real estate agent to guide you along and help you close on a deal soon. For more information, use our post as a reference to get an idea of what the basic timeline is when buying a house.