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You’ve decided to buy a house – congratulations. Unfortunately, it’s not a process that will happen overnight, though. From getting a mortgage in principle to completion day could take several months, depending on your situation.  

The timeline we provide below is a ‘general timeline.’ Each person has unique circumstances that affect the process. The closer you work with your lender and real estate agent, the faster the process may go. Check out the timeline below to see how it pertains to you.

Get a Mortgage in Principal

You may want to start with a mortgage in principle, which is a confirmation from a lender that the lender will consider lending you money. It gives you an idea of what you can afford should the lender approve your mortgage. It’s a great starting point before you shop for a home. You know your price range and you have the leg up on the competition as many estate agents or sellers won’t take you seriously without the mortgage in principle.

You can get a mortgage in principal after providing the lender with your qualifying details including your income, assets, and credit score. The lender will evaluate your financial situation and decide if you are a good candidate for a loan. Most lenders provide a mortgage in principle on the same day that you apply. 

Keep in mind that you still have to apply for the official mortgage after you make an offer on a home. 

Shop for Your Dream Home 

It’s finally time for the fun stuff – shopping for a home! It helps if you have narrowed down your options. You should already know your price range based on the mortgage in principle. Next, you should determine your other ‘needs’ such as the size of the home, layout, location, etc. The more specific you are about what you want, the more targeted homes a realtor can show you. Obviously, shopping for a home can go fast or slow, it depends on the market, your tastes, and the flexibility of the sellers. 

Complete the Underwriting Process

Once you find a home, you’ll file your official mortgage application and go through the underwriting process. At this point, the lender will evaluate your income, assets, credit, and the property in depth. This is typically the longest part of the process and can take as long as a few weeks. The exact time it takes depends on how well you and the lender work together. The faster you provide what they need, the faster the process can complete. 

Exchange Contracts

This is probably one of the most important parts of the process. Exchanging contracts means negotiating the terms of the deal and agreeing with one another. The seller can still cancel the sale at this time and the process itself can take as long as a few weeks.

Completion Day

The day has finally come! Completion day is when everything is finalized. The money exchanges hands as do the keys to the property. This step usually occurs within one to four weeks of the contract exchange and is dependent on the terms of the contract. 

Each person takes a different amount of time to buy a house. The circumstances and complexities of your finances, the flexibility of the seller, and the lender’s workload all play a role in how quickly you can find a home, get a mortgage, and complete the process.