Are you looking to buy a house in the Seattle area? As a home buyer, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the timeline as it helps set proper expectations and puts you in control of the process.
The duration of the home buying process will vary from start to finish based on your individual circumstances. In Washington state, the timeline can range from a few weeks to a few months. Let’s take a closer look at each step in the process and see how long you can expect to spend buying your dream home.
Getting Pre-Approved For A Loan
Some people jump straight into searching for a house before they’ve spoken to a mortgage lender. This can result in them spending a lot of time looking at homes that are out of their price range.
This is one of the reasons to get pre-approved for a loan before looking for a home. It helps you save time by narrowing down the market by price point and keeping your budget in mind.
There are additional benefits to getting pre-approved at the outset of the process. Real estate agents will be more willing to work with you and sellers will be more likely to accept your offer compared to a buyer who doesn’t have a lender in place.
The pre-approval process is straightforward and is typically completed in 1 – 3 business days.
Finding A Real Estate Agent
This is one of the most important steps when finding your next home. You’ll be in contact with your agent during the entire home buying process. You’ll spend hours looking at potential houses together and will go to them for advice at the time of making offers and negotiating contracts.
Perform due diligence to find a qualified agent that has experience and expertise in the area you are looking to live.
Searching through Seattle real estate agents and finding the best choice for you can take between 1 – 10 days, depending on your thoroughness and requirements.
Looking For A House
This is the part of the home-buying process that will most influence the overall timeline. The time it takes to find the right house can vary drastically depending on the market and your particular criteria.
Some homebuyers are able to find the right home in a few days. For others, it takes a few weeks to find the right house. Be as prepared as possible with your criteria in order before you start visiting houses and always communicate your needs and expectations with your realtor.
Signing The Contract
Once you have found your new home, the next step in the process is to decide what to offer the seller as a purchase price. You’ll also need to decide if you are going to ask for closing costs to be covered, repair budgets allocated, or any other contingencies.
Your agent will then write up the offer for you and submit it to the seller’s agent. The seller can accept your offer as-is or come back to you with a counteroffer. In this case, you are presented with the same choice and can accept their counter offer or make a counter of your own.
When the back and forth is complete, you will sign the finalized contract and move into the escrow period.
The time to submit, negotiate, and sign the finalized contract can range from 1-2 business days.
The closing process begins after you’ve signed the final contract and have moved into the escrow period (the time between offer acceptance and final closing).
Buyers and sellers agree upon a final closing date in advance when the offer is accepted. The average escrow period in Washington state ranges from 30 to 60 days. There are several important steps that take place during this period and the overall time will depend on what you negotiated in your contract.
Finalize The Loan
The bank/mortgage lender will take a more detailed look at your financial state to ensure that you have not done anything that will impact your ability to pay the home loan since getting pre-approved.
They will also want to know more about the house you’re buying. This part will take longer than looking over your financials but will not require much effort on your end.
Process Title Work
The lender will require that the home has a clear or clean title.
A clear title means that there aren’t any outstanding liens on the property. Examples of liens include unpaid work on the property and unpaid utility bills. The title will also show that any previous sales were done properly and that the current owner has the right to sell the home.
Title work will be completed by your title company or closing attorney. It doesn’t require any work on your part but is part of the waiting process.
Complete Home Inspection
This step is not required by a lender, yet it’s one of the most important steps to take when buying a home. A good inspector will find any and every little detail that might need to be addressed with the house itself.
It’s recommended not to skip this step, even if you believe you’ve checked everything over well enough yourself.
Like the appraisal, it can take a few days to have an inspector come out and inspect the home. You want to do this as early in the closing process as possible.
After finding anything that needs fixing, you can return to the seller and negotiate any repairs that have been discovered.
You will provide them a list and can have them make the repairs themselves or credit you the costs and have you handle them.
This process tends to take a few days, but negotiations can take days to weeks, depending on the nature and extent of the repairs needed.
Get An Appraisal
The appraisal is a critical part in securing a loan on a home. Depending on the type of loan you get, a bank will only lend up to the appraised value.
For example let’s say you sign a contract for a $300,000 home.
If you get the home appraised and the appraiser deems the value of the home to be $300,000, the bank will move forward with the loan approval process.
However, if the appraiser deemed that the value of the home was $270,000, then the bank isn’t going to loan you the $300,000 you requested. In this situation, you have to come up with a larger down payment or begin negotiating again.
Scheduling an appraiser to come out to the home can take 3 – 10 business days, depending on their workload. Lenders will usually wait to order the appraisal until after the inspection hurdle is cleared. They want to be confident that the deal is moving forward before requesting, this is a cost that is incurred by the buyer.
Final Walkthrough And Closing Your House
A final walkthrough isn’t necessary if there weren’t any repairs needed. You can choose to do this anyway to make sure the seller didn’t make any unwanted changes since signing the deal.
Finally comes signing day. Your agent will take you through all the documents and will help you understand what you’re signing.
So, how long does the entire process take? There are several steps happening simultaneously, particularly with finalizing the details of the loans. The totals we have provided are estimates and can vary based on both the buyer’s and seller’s circumstances.
The biggest influencers on the total length of the process will be how long you spend viewing and choosing a home, and the length of the escrow period you and the seller decide on. While the process can be complete in a few weeks, expect to spend 60 – 90 days from start to finish.
Nearly any real estate transaction is about life change. The addition of a new family member, a new job or a new career, or a move out and into a new neighborhood. It’s about a new direction for your life that’s either just happened or right around the corner. Get in touch with Vicinage Group and let’s get you started on the next leg of your journey.