What’s a good home-buying timeline?
When you’re buying a home, there is a timeline of events that will happen. So, what’s a good home-buying timeline? On rare occasions, you may get the itch to buy a home, and start and close in 30 days. That is not the norm. From the time you have a need to buy a home until you close, you’re most likely looking at 45 days or more. What’s the time-line?
What’s a good home-buying timeline?
- Financial – Pre-approval
- Realtor Search
- Home Search
- Home Inspection
- Contact Insurance Provider
- Financing Approval
- Title Search and Document Preparation
- Closing Date Set
- Closing Document Review
- Contact Utilities
- Confirm That Funds Are Wired to the Closer
What’s a good home-buying timeline? – Finance & Realtor Search
Get your pre-qualification or pre-approval letter first. It is always better to have a pre-approval letter, but a pre-qualification letter is better than nothing. This is the first step on your timeline. Getting your financial abilities clearly spelled out will let everyone involved know what to look for when you’re buying a home. Do this about 45-60 days before you hope to close on a home.
Call a Realtor. Actually, call a few Realtors. Interview agents until you find one that works well with your personality and goals. Don’t be shocked if they ask you to sign a buyer broker agreement. A BBA is the equal to a listing agreement when selling a home. In the state of Virginia (7.1.2012), it is required for all buyer-agent relationships. The length of the agreement is negotiable. If you are uncomfortable signing one, ask that the length of the agreement be short (30 day, 60 days, etc.). Find an agent who has your best interest at heart, sign your BBA and get ready to get started.
What’s a good home-buying timeline? – Home Search & Contract
Once you’ve been pre-approved and you’ve located a good Realtor, it’s time to settle on your home criteria and hit the streets. Eliminate as many possibilities in the Realtor’s office before setting appointments. Volume of showings is not the quickest path to the perfect home. Matching criteria with available properties is where you should start your search.
Once you’ve found your perfect home, negotiate an acceptable deal and write a contract. This is where you Realtor will be a priceless addition to your home search. Your Realtor can show you what has sold in your chosen neighborhood.
If you’re planning on offering 50% less than the list price, your Realtor can help you see if there is any possibility of your contract being accepted. The information in the multiple listing service will tell you if homes are selling at list, 1% below list or 50% below list. If they are selling at list or 1% below list, you’re 50% below will not have a chance and you’ve just wasted your time and your Realtor’s time.
This is especially critical in a competitive market. If inventory is low, you can’t afford to make useless offers if you really want the property. Make your best offer and let the seller negotiate if there are needed changes.
What’s a good home-buying timeline? – Home Inspection & Appraisal
Once you have a ratified (accepted) offer, you need to schedule a home inspection (10-14 days, $300-$450 paid out-of-pocket up front). Home inspections look at a home to see if the systems (plumbing, electrical and heating & cooling), roof, appliances and construction are in good working order. If they aren’t, you can walk away, negotiate repairs or accept the property as is. Home inspectors and home inspections are perfect, but they do give a glimpse into the home’s health.
Around the same time, your lender will call for an appraisal (14-21 days on average, and around $450-$650, often paid up front, and out-of-pocket). It’s good to have the home inspection and any negotiations done before the appraisal just in the event the deal falls apart at that point. There’s no sense in paying for an appraisal on a home you will not be buying.
What’s a good home-buying timeline? – Insurance & Financing Approval
Now that the home inspection repairs are agreed to, and possibly complete, you will want to contact your insurance provider to make them aware that you are buying a home and you will need insurance (14-21 days). You may want to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Prices can vary radically.
Around 21-28 days, you should have a loan approval from your lender. It may take longer, but that is something that should be inserted into the contract. Most lenders can give a loan approval in this amount of time or less, unless there are circumstances that need to be reconciled before that phase can be complete.
What’s a good home-buying timeline? – Title Search & Closing Date Set
Your closing attorney, or closing agent, will be searching your title during this time (14-28 days). The attorney, or agent will be looking for any anomalies in your title’s history. Most will searches will go back at least 60 years to see if the property has had a clear chain of title as it has passed from seller to buyer.
Once the closer has confirmed that the title is clean and can be transferred, a closing date is set. This date should coincide with a date set in the contract. Most contract language says, “On or before” a certain date. That means you may close early if everything is complete and everyone can close early. On occasion, you may close late because something wasn’t completed in time. In that case, you’ll need to have an agreed upon addendum signed by all parties extending the closing date. Those are not as common, and they are normally just a few days or weeks long.
What’s a good home-buying timeline? – Review Closing Docs & Contact Utility Companies to Have Services Set Up.
The closing docs, or CD (for a loan funded sale) needs to be in your hands 3 days before closing. All parties (including lenders) will need to agree to the CD and sign off on the numbers. If there are mistakes on the CD, it will need to be corrected and the 3 day period restarts.
This is a good time to have your utilities set up with your new water, electric, gas, oil, Internet and cable providers. Make sure they are set to start the day of closing. This should be done a week or two before closing. That gives you plenty of time to run around making deposits and filling out applications. This is not something you want to put off to the day of closing. A lot of sellers will have their utilities set to expire on the day of closing. Make sure to put it on your calendar.
What’s a good home-buying timeline? – Confirm That the Funds From Your Lender Are Wired to Your Closing Agent on or Before the Day of Closing & Close.
Make sure the wiring instructions for sending money is handled by you and your closing attorney or agent. Do not send money based on an email received at the last-minute without talking directly to your funding lender. Do not click on a link in a last-minute email offering wiring instructions. A recent real estate scam has been for a thief to send an email with wiring instructions that go to a scam account. It can be devastating. Make sure you and your closing company are monitoring this phase closely, and always talk directly to the people you’ve been working with. This not a time for new names to be added to the contact list.
The last timeline issue is to close. You will meet your closer and sign a one inch pile of papers that are redundant and confusing, but hopefully you’ve picked a closer who will explain everything clearly and with a bit of humor. It can be really boring at this point, and the humor goes a long way. This is an area where having a great Realtor can be a huge plus. Your Realtor can give good recommendations of highly skilled home inspectors, lenders, closing companies and other services.
There is one final conclusion to your process. You get the keys. Congratulations on your home purchase. When you’re ready to start your own timeline, give Mike Cooper, or any of the agents at Cornerstone Business Group, Inc. a call. We are your local real estate sales pros, and we’ll get you across the finish line (hopefully, with a smile).