When you desire to buy a house, especially if you are going from renting to buying, it is important build in plenty of time for the process. We have run into buyers that have to rush to find a house and are up against a deadline with the end of their lease. By not allowing enough time for the closing process, specifically, they are stuck with either not buying, trying to stay in their lease a little longer, or finding temporary housing until they can close on their house.
Here are some general timeline principles to use if you want to buying a house. This is especially helpful for first time home buyers, but apply to anyone wanting to buy a house.
At least 90 Days Prior to Move
- Find a good mortgage broker and start working on getting pre-approved. If you think your credit score will be on the lower side, start this process about six months prior. Your mortgage broker may be able to give you tips to improve your credit score with the extra time.
- Start to ask friends, coworkers, and neighbors for recommendations on a real estate agent to use. We will take later in another post about what to look for in a real estate agent. It is best to work with one agent so they can help you hone in on your specific needs. And, in case you didn't know, it doesn't cost you anything to work with that agent. The commissions of a sale are paid by the seller, so USE AN AGENT. A good agent will fight for your best interests.
- Come up with a list of what your new home must have, would like to have, and cannot have.
- During this time you can also get to know the neighborhoods you are thinking of moving to. Visit them at different times of day to see what the neighbors are like. Go walking in the neighborhood on a Saturday morning and talk to the neighbors that are outside.
60 Days Prior to Move
- Now it is time to get serious about house shopping. By now you should have pre-approval completed. You should also have found an agent. Share with your agent what you need, want, and don't want in a home.
- If your agent doesn't offer, ask to be sent any properties that are on the market and meet your needs.
- Identify with your agent about five properties that based on pictures and listing descriptions meet your needs and tour those properties. If these don't meet your needs, work with your agent to find some more.
45 Days Prior to Move
- By now you should have found a property that you want to buy. Write an offer with the goal to have that offer accepted. A house closing takes 30-45 days, especially when the property is being financed, so you have to have an accepted offer very soon. Doing the homework 90+ days before your move helps this part to not be so stressful.
After a Contract is Accepted there will be a lot that happens, and this takes time. Allow yourself enough time so that you don't have to settle on a home, but you can find one that fits your needs.