Once you’ve committed to purchasing your first home — or selling your current one — it may feel like the closing date can’t come fast enough. Fortunately for all parties involved, the seemingly lengthy home-buying process timeline — which spans several months in a typical market, not necessarily the hot market we continue to experience in Texas — can give both buyers and sellers time to consider all impulses and decisions. This is, after all, one of the most important purchases most of us will make in our lifetime. Here’s how long it typically takes to buy a home in Texas, and how you can help keep the wheels running smoothly. Step one? Talk to a professional agent who comes highly recommended — or who you know and trust already.
Get preapproved for a mortgage
You’ll know you’ve reached the home-buying stage in life when you can’t drive through a neighborhood without slowing down at any For Sale signs. But the timer doesn’t really start ticking until you’ve obtained mortgage prequalification and preapproval. In the eyes of many sellers, you’re not a serious potential buyer until your preapproval is in place. Prequalification is the informal part, with the aim of setting the rough borrowing parameters for your search. Preapproval is when you formally verify your income, employment, credit score, debt burden and so on with a lender, who will then issue you a letter confirming how much you can borrow.
TIMELINE: The application itself can be done in a matter of hours, and your real estate agent can help you with this. Once you’ve submitted your details, the confirmation letter should come fairly quickly, if not almost instantly.
Armed with your mortgage preapproval, you’re ready to step things up: working with your agent; searching online; touring houses; and driving through neighborhoods you like with a sense of purpose. Absolutely share your wish list with your real estate agent and let their local knowledge and network take the lead. In particular, a professional real estate agent can make use of industry tools to dive deep into local listings that best fit your needs.
TIMELINE: Given that many of us have to fit house-hunting around daily obligations such as work or childcare, it’s not just a case of scouring a neighborhood for a few days. In fact, it will typically take around three months to find your dream home, but that can vary based on inventory and the current market.
Make an offer and negotiate the price
Once you’ve discovered your perfect match, there’s no time to lose in making a formal offer, at which point the seller will either accept it or reject it outright, or make a counteroffer. In competitive sellers’ markets — such as Texas right now, where the average days on market fell to a record 34 days in May 2021 — there is a strong chance you can find yourself in a bidding war. The home could well be someone else’s perfect match, too, so you have to allow for any back-and-forth between buyer and seller. This is one of the phases in the home-buying timeline where you’ll be even more glad to have the support of a skilled real estate agent to negotiate the purchase.
TIMELINE: Allow one to two months, depending on the responsiveness of the seller and demand for the property.
Apply for the mortgage
Even with preapproval, you still have to make a formal mortgage application once you’ve settled on a property. Although much of the process goes on behind the scenes, with little opportunity for you to speed things up, you can certainly slow it down by not having all your paperwork in order. In many cases, the buyer approval for a mortgage by a certain date may be stipulated in the contract, so it’s important that you or your agent maintain regular contact with the lender to check that everything is on track.
TIMELINE: Allow 30 to 45 days before closing for your mortgage lender to schedule an appraisal of the home value and underwrite the loan by verifying your income and debt. As a benchmark, the average time to close a home loan was 53 days in 2021. Your lender can confirm a timeline that it will be able to deliver within.
Arrange for the inspections and appraisals
Shortly after you and the seller execute a contract, you should arrange to have the property inspected to discover any potential issues or problems, such as structural, electrical or environmental. There isn’t much you can do during this phase where the professionals take over, but you’ll be glad for their diligence and thoroughness later. No one wants to find that the beautiful home with charming curb appeal has a termite-infested roof or a sinking foundation. After the inspection, you will have the opportunity to negotiate about anything discovered to be in need of repair. Once it appears that you are moving forward with the home purchase, your mortgage lender will organize an appraisal to confirm the current value of the home. Assuming the home is signed off after inspection and appraisal, and once your underwriter has finished processing your documents, you’ll be “cleared to close.”
Go to the closing
The last mile isn’t always the hardest mile. Once you’ve received your closing disclosure from the lender — three days, by law, before the closing date — you’ll need to study the documents before attending the Closing Meeting. Then it’s time to sign on the dotted line and take receipt of the deeds, at which point the home is yours — and the next step is moving in!
TIMELINE: Closing itself takes just a matter of hours.
Something important to remember: In today’s landscape of one-click buying and next-day delivery, something that may take six months might seem like an eternity. That’s why it’s important to have a trusted professional agent on your side through the highs and lows. Get in touch today to learn how one of our highly skilled agents can help you buy your next home. It’s what they do, every day, for the great people of North Texas — and beyond.
NOTE: While we strive for accuracy in every communication, the rules, regulations, requirements and laws related to every process of buying or selling properties could and do change. Always check with your lender, attorney, city, county, state and other official sources when it comes to all rules, regulations, requirements and laws related to your transactions.