How to Buy a House: The Process and What to Expect

Young home buyer accompanies home inspector during inspection
It’s a good idea to accompany the home inspector during the inspection. (DepositPhotos)

Under Contract

Once the seller accepts your offer, you’re officially under contract. You can submit your loan application, order an inspection, and set up homeowner’s insurance.

You’ll also finish gathering your funds to close.

During this stage, some potential homebuyers look for down payment assistance. A standard down payment is 20% of the home’s price, although you can find help from the state, banks and private agencies if you don’t have that kind of money. And if you meet income requirements, a loan from the U.S. Federal Housing Administration requires just a 3.5% down payment.

You may also need the first installments for homeowners’ insurance, not to mention funds for moving expenses and home furnishings.

New homeowner receiving house keys
Non-conforming loans are high-risk and aren’t backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Closing Day

It usually takes about 30 to 60 days to move from “under contract” to “homeowner” status. Most people make it to the closing table in 45 days or less, while others, especially those paying cash, may complete the transaction much sooner.

Work with your lender and real estate agent to avoid missing the closing deadline. Remember: there could be a monetary penalty if the deal doesn’t close by the agreed-upon date.

For instance, the buyer could be contractually obligated to pay a flat fee, or some of the seller’s mortgage payment, if the deal doesn’t close by deadline.

Now You Know!

See? Buying a home is a process with predictable steps, deadlines and (hopefully!) no surprises. Most people can enjoy their new place within a month or so.

Still wondering how long it will take to buy a house?

For a more thorough discussion about your unique situation, talk things over with your real estate agent and lender.

And share your home buying experiences in the comments!

Further Reading


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