How Long Does It Take to Close on a House?
While the house hunting stage can often take several weeks and visits, real estate closing times can also take longer than you may anticipate. Even if the entire process goes off without a hitch, you should count on a minimum of at least a couple of weeks to reach the finish line, as closing on a house involves several steps. Following are some common steps in the home buying process:
Purchase contract signing: Buyers and sellers agree on a purchase price at this stage.
Cash deposit: The buyer submits an earnest deposit in an escrow account.
Due diligence: A due diligence period is a length of time in which a homebuyer has the ability to terminate their contract and receive a refund of their earnest money. During the due diligence period, the buyer will complete tasks, such as a home inspection, as well as evaluate the area. It typically lasts up to ten days.
Home insurance: The homebuyer is required to purchase homeowners insurance prior to applying for a mortgage. The insurance protects homeowners from specific damages to the home, depending on the policy you buy.
Appraisal: Lenders hire an independent home appraiser to judge if the price of a home is fair based on the price of the other homes in the area of comparable size and value. The fee is typically paid by the buyer as part of the closing costs.
Financing: You must produce the proper documentation to verify the information you provided on the loan application about you, your income, assets, credit and other real estate you may own.
Contingencies: This is the time when buyers must settle contingencies on their end. For example, some contracts require that the homebuyers complete the sale of their former home before acquiring a new one.
Title search: A title search is an examination of public records to determine and confirm a property’s legal ownership as well as find out whether any claims or liens exist on the property. A clean title is required for any real estate transaction to be completed.
Walk-through: Though optional, homebuyers are advised to schedule a final walk-through of the home to confirm the condition of the home is the same (or better) as it was on the day that the offer to purchase was signed. The final walk-through should always be scheduled after the seller has moved out and prior to closing on the home.
Fund transfer: The closing attorney receives the lender’s funds, the earnest deposit from the escrow account, and the down payment.
Closing: Generally, the closing will happen at a title office. Your real estate agent, the seller’s agent and the title agent may be there to witness the transfer of the property rights to your name.
According to Realtor.com, closing times average out at 50 days. Homebuyers normally utilize this period to do due diligence and tie up any loose ends. With that said, the timeline to finalize the closing process can be several weeks shorter or longer, depending on whether there are title issues, the number and extent of repairs the parties agreed upon, contingencies, and your ability to turn in closing documents in an expedited manner.
While you shouldn’t feel pressured to rush through things without fully reviewing and understanding them, there are some ways you can speed up a closing. For instance, you can start gathering the necessary documents during the house-hunting period.