The biggest variable in terms of the home buying timeline is how long you search in order to identify the home you want to buy. According the National Association of Realtors Home Buyer Survey in 2010, the average buyer actively searched for 16 weeks prior to identifying a property to buy, and viewed an average of 12 homes total over that period (and that’s usually after a while of searching for homes online). There is a lot of variability in that, of course. For example, we worked with a couple relocating to Boston, who were visiting for a few days and needed to locate a home that would be ready to move into when they came back for their job start date. After a whirlwind tour of 25 homes over a long weekend, they had an offer drafted minutes before they boarded their flight at the airport! The bottom line is that there is no rush if you want to take it slow but we can also move the process along as fast as possible if you’re under the gun for some reason (like relocation).
Generally speaking, after the search phase, from the point when you identify a property you would like to buy, it is about a 6 week process to buy. During that time there are 4 main steps:
1. The Negotiation
Typically taking 1-3 days (although these days given conditions in the Boston real estate market, extended negotiations seem to be the norm!), you submit your offer to purchase and negotiate with the sellers all the nitty gritty contract details. (In case you’re wondering about negotiating tactics, start with these 5 questions).
2. Due Diligence
Once negotiations are complete, things kick into overdrive for a period of about 10 to 14 days. During this time, you’ll have your home inspection, review the financial and legal records of the association (if you’re buying a condo), communicate with your lawyer about the full purchase contract (P&S agreement) details, and start the next step….
3. Obtaining the Mortgage
By this point you would have already been preapproved for a mortgage, but now you’ll be completing the full loan application, providing your mortgage rep with all necessary verification documents (tax returns, etc), and officially deciding which loan program to go with. The bank will review your documents, have an appraisal on the property completed, and finally approve your loan (hopefully!) in about 2-3 weeks.
4. The Closing
The closing is scheduled at the convenience of both parties – the buyer and the seller – and is part of the negotiation process at the beginning to decide on an acceptable date. Generally 4-5 weeks after the purchase contract is signed, which gives give the bank enough time to approve and fund your home loan, and gives the closing attorney enough time to verify clear title for the property.
That brings you to about 6 weeks from the initial offer, plus the search time prior to that, in total to purchase your new home or condo. We typically recommend buyers begin the home search process about 6-8 months ahead of the time you need to be in a new home to give yourself plenty of time to learn the market, obtain a mortgage, and secure the right home for you.
Buying a home can be a long and complex process with a lot of steps along the way – but it doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful! Hopefully you understand the basics of the process and have a ballpark time frame to purchase. Part of our job as buyer’s agents is to fully educate clients on the home buying process in Boston and on the Boston real estate market conditions to protect them from potential pitfalls and delays along the way. If you are thinking of buying a home or condo in Boston, contact us and we’re happy to answer as many questions as you have. No risk and no obligation, of course!