How Long Does It Take To Buy A House In 2022?

Katie Ziraldo7-minute read
January 12, 2022

When you’re eager to get into your first home, it’s natural to question how long the home buying process will take. This can be a tricky question to answer, as it varies based on several factors. While you can often go from the contract signing to the closing table in a little over a month, actually finding and putting offers in on homes can lengthen the process significantly.

How long will it take to buy a house this year? Knowing what to expect will help you better prepare and avoid unnecessary stress, so in this article, we’ll break down key factors that impact the length of a home purchase process.

How Long Is The Process Of Buying A House?

According to Ellie Mae, a data firm that processes mortgage applications, the average time to close on a home loan was 51 days in June 2021. This is a slight increase from recent years, with the closing process previously lasting anywhere from 30 – 45 days.

But remember, the closing process is only one piece of the home buying pie. The larger piece to consider is the actual process of finding a house, and in the pandemic housing market, this may take longer than you’d think. Low home inventory and high demand for housing means that finding your dream home and making an offer can take significantly longer than it did pre-pandemic.

How Can I Beat The Average And Speed Up The Home Buying Process?

If you’re trying to get into a house as soon as possible, there are steps you can take to speed up the home buying process. Being financially prepared to apply for a mortgage is one of the best ways to achieve this goal, so take a look at your credit history, know your credit score, avoid taking on new debt and gather the necessary paperwork ahead of time to ensure a smooth mortgage process.

Get approved to buy a home.

Rocket Mortgage® lets you get to house hunting sooner.

NMLS #3030

Rocket Mortgage Logo

The Home Buying Process: 7 Key Steps And How Long They Take

There are seven main steps to buying a house. The exact amount of time the process will take depends on how prepared the buyer is to apply for a mortgage.

In the pandemic housing market, some of these steps can take much longer than they did pre-pandemic, due to the unprecedented demand for housing and the current low inventory of homes for sale.

Save For Your Down Payment And Closing Costs: Months To Years

Saving for down payment and closing costs should be the first step in your home buying journey. Depending on the loan type, you may be able to get a mortgage with a down payment as little as 3% of the purchase price.

You’ll also need to be prepared to pay closing costs, which go toward all the fees associated with processing and securing your loan. The exact amount you need will depend on the loan amount and tax requirements in your area, but typically you can expect closing costs to be about 3% – 6% of the purchase price.

No-Down-Payment Options

If you’re worried about saving for a down payment, note that some government-backed loans – like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans or Veterans Administration (VA) loans – offer no-down-payment loan options to those who qualify. Rocket Mortgage® does not offer USDA loans at this time.

USDA loans help low- to moderate-income families purchase homes in eligible rural areas, while VA loans are offered to veterans, active service members and eligible spouses by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

If you qualify for either of these loan types, they may be a great option to help you get into a home faster, as they typically have lower overall qualification requirements in addition to the waving of a down payment.

Help For First-Time And Low-Income Home Buyers

There are also first-time home buyer and down payment assistance programs you should consider. From government grants to deferred-payment loans and low-interest loans, these programs are in place to make homeownership more attainable for lower income home buyers, and they may cut the time you need to save in half.

PMI

Although purchasing a home with a low down payment can be appealing, it’s important to understand the implications of such a decision. For example, those who choose a low down payment will be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) until they reach a home equity level of 20%.

With a low down payment, PMI will be required on all loan types except for FHA, USDA and VA loans, which have their own requirements. With FHA and USDA loans,  you’ll have to pay a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) which is a recurring, annual charge to secure your loan. With VA loans, there will be a one-time VA funding fee at closing.

Get Preapproved: 1 – 5 Days

When you begin looking at homes, you need to have a good understanding of what you can afford – so the importance of getting preapproved when house hunting cannot be understated.

But what is the difference between prequalification and preapproval? These terms are sometimes used by lenders to mean different things, but our friends at Rocket Mortgage® have a tiered process that eliminates confusion.

  • Prequalified Approval: In a Prequalified Approval, your credit is checked. For the purposes of mortgage qualification, the lender considers your median FICO® If two or more people are on the loan, the lowest median score is what matters. You’re also asked to provide verbal or written statements as to your income and assets, which helps with your debt-to-income ratio calculation to estimate how much you can afford. The downside here is that it’s only an estimate, because both your income and assets aren’t verified.
  • Verified Approval: In a Verified Approval, Rocket Mortgage® checks your credit but also asks for copies of documentation to verify your income and assets, such as W-2s, tax returns and bank statements. This approval will come with a Verified Approval Letter, which will mean more in the eyes of real estate agents and sellers because it guarantees exactly how much you can afford based on empirical evidence.

Understand What You Need In A Neighborhood And A House: 1 – 7 Days

Knowing what you need in a house – and where it should be located – can make house hunting easier and more efficient. Considering the largest chunk of time in the home buying process is devoted to simply finding the right house, setting these parameters for yourself ahead of time can be one of the best ways to speed up the process.

Saving time at this stage depends in large part on not wasting time looking at unsuitable homes. After all, while it might be fun to walk through the dream house that is significantly over your budget, it’s not going to help you get into a house any faster.

Find An Agent To Work With: 1 – 7 Days

One thing that can help at this point, and through the rest of the home buying process, is to hire a real estate agent. Having an expert on your side will simplify the process and eliminate unnecessary stress.

Through our agent network, you can find the right buyer’s agent who will help align your goals with what you’re looking for in a home. Real estate agents are very familiar with your local market because they buy and sell houses every day, and they will also be able to help you with offer negotiation when the time comes.

Look At Houses For Sale: 2 Months To 1 Year

With an experienced real estate agent in your corner, it’s time to begin looking at houses. In the current seller’s market for real estate, this step of the process can take months or even a year or more, depending on where you’re looking to buy your next home.

With a low inventory of houses available, working with a reliable agent is more important than ever, as it will also mean hearing about listings as soon as they’re available.

Make An Offer And Negotiate A Contract: 2 Days, With The Possibility Of Having To Start Over

Let’s say you found a house and you’re ready to make an offer. In the seller’s market we’re currently experiencing, the process of making an offer can be nerve-wracking and ultimately disappointing if your offer is declined in a bidding war.

Overheated real estate markets may mean going through this process multiple times, making bids over ask, or even potentially waiving contingencies before getting an offer accepted in a seller’s market.

Close On The Home: 4 – 6 Weeks

During the preapproval process, lenders decide whether they can give you a loan. But once an offer is accepted, lenders must determine whether the house’s value will be enough to cover their losses should you default on the loan at a later date. Keep in mind that even if you’ve waived contingencies, like a home inspection or appraisal contingency, the lender will still require a appraisal and title search before approving the loan.

And don’t make the mistake of taking on new credit or debt while you’re waiting for your closing date. While underwriting your loan they’ll continue to ensure your credit and DTI ratio haven’t worsened since the time of preapproval.

You know your dream home.

We’ll help you find it.

Katie Ziraldo

Katie Ziraldo is a financial writer and data journalist focused on creating accurate, accessible and educational content for future generations of home buyers. Her portfolio of work also includes The Detroit Free Press and The Huffington Post.