Home Buying Timeline: How Long Will It Take To Close On A Home?

Do you ever wish that they taught a class in high school called, “Things You’ll Actually Need to Know In Life?” You’d learn how to prepare your taxes, what investing is, and how to buy a home.

Unfortunately, all of these important life lessons tend to be self-taught; you pick them up along the way and learn from your mistakes.

However, it needn’t be that way. Our goal today is to give you an accurate idea of what to expect when you’re buying your first home. We’ll go over a typically home buying timeline and discuss how long each step can take. This will give you a better idea of how long it will take to close on your first home.

Step 1: Build credit and save for a down payment

Estimated time: 2+ years

The first step of buying a home is to make sure you’re financially secure enough to do so. While there are ways to purchase a home with low or no down payments (See FHA, USDA, and VA loans), generally it’s wiser to wait until you have a sizable down payment saved. This will save you money in interest and mortgage insurance in the long run.

Next, you’ll need to start working on your credit. If your credit score took some hits due to late payments when you were younger, now is the time to start fixing those mistakes by making on-time payments and paying off outstanding balances.

Step 2: Have a plan for the next phase of your life

Estimated time 6+ months

One of the most important, and least talked about, parts of buying a home is understanding what it means to own a home. If you have a spouse, partner, or family, you’ll need to be in agreement that you’re prepared to stay in one place for the next 5 or more years.

Buying a home is expensive and you won’t want to go through the process of closing on a home if you aren’t sure you’ll stay. This means making sure your career won’t bring you elsewhere in the near future.

Step 3: Get prequalified and preapproved

Estimated time 1-3 days (depending on how much initiative you take)

Getting prequalified for a mortgage takes minutes. You simply fill out an online form and the lender will give you an idea of the type and size loan you could qualify for. Be forewarned: they’ll also use this information to call and bother you about getting a mortgage from them.

Once you’re prequalified, it’s just a matter of working with the lender to provide the correct documentation for pre-approval.

Getting preapproved takes a bit longer (1-3 days), since it requires a credit check and some work on your part–namely, gathering and sending income verification.

Once you’re preapproved, you can safely start shopping for homes without worrying that you’re wasting time looking at homes that are overbudget.

Step 4: House Hunting

Estimated time: 30+ days

It’s a seller’s market. So, if you’re buying a home right now there is competition out there. You’ll need to dedicate a substantial amount of time to researching homes online, contacting sellers’ agents, and following up on calls. Like before, the amount of effort you put into this process determines how quickly and smoothly you’ll get through it.

Step 5: Making an offer and closing

Estimated time: ~50 days

Average closing times for buying a home has grown to 50 days according to a recent study. However, by securing financing ahead of time and acting quickly, you can drastically cut down the time of these process to as little as two weeks.

Tax Breaks and Deductions Every New Homeowner Needs to Know About

Buying your first home is probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. But, it does come with its advantages. Among them are tax breaks and deductions that you can take advantage of to save money if you play your cards right.

In today’s post, I’m going to cover some of the tax breaks and deductions that first-time homeowners should seek out this tax season to help them lower their tax bill.

Mortgage points

While earning points is a good thing on the basketball court, it can be a financial drain on a mortgage. Mortgage points are what buyers pay to the lender to secure their loan. They’re usually given as percentage points of the total loan amount.

If you pay these points with your closing costs, then they are deductible. Taxpayers who itemize deductions on their IRS Form 1040 can typically deduct all of the points they paid in a year, with the exception of some high-income taxpayers whose itemized deductions are limited.

PMI costs

If you’re one of the many people who made a down payment of less than 20% on your home, odds are that you’re going to be stuck with PMI, or private mortgage insurance, until you pay off at least 20% of the loan balance.

The good news is that homebuyers who purchased their home in the year 2007 and after can deduct their PMI premiums. However, the state on premium insurance deductibles is something that frequently comes up in Congress, so homeowners should ensure that these deductions are still valid when filing their taxes.

Mortgage interest

Mortgage interest accounts for the biggest deduction for the average homeowner. When you receive your Form 1098 from your lender, you can deduct the total amount of interest you’ve paid during the year.

Property taxes

Another deductible that shouldn’t be overlooked by first-time buyers is local property taxes. Save the records for any property taxes you pay so that you can deduct them during tax season.

Home energy tax credits

Some states are offering generous tax credits for homeowners who make home improvements that save energy. There are a number of improvements you might qualify for, including things like insulation and roofs, as well as photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.

IRA Withdrawals

Many first-time buyers withdraw from an IRA account to be able to make a larger down payment on their home or to pay for closing costs. In most other cases, withdrawing from an IRA will count as taxable income. However, if your IRA withdrawal is used toward a down payment or closing costs, the tax penalty is waived.

Keep these tax breaks and deductions in mind this tax season to help you save money and get a larger refund.

How to Determine Your Lending Eligibility for an FHA Loan

FHA loans have long been a valuable resource for Americans who want to fulfill their goal of homeownership but who don’t have the benefit of a lengthy credit history and equity.

If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future but want to explore all of your options in terms of financing, this article is for you.

Today we’re going to talk about FHA loans and how to know if you qualify for one.

What are FHA loans?

FHA loans are issued by private mortgage lenders across the country, just like regular mortgages. The difference, however, is that an FHA loan is “guaranteed” by the federal government.

Lenders decide your borrowing eligibility, and how much you can borrow, by determining risk. If you don’t have a sizable down payment (oftentimes 20% or more) and you have a low credit score, most mortgage lenders will see you as a risky person to lend to.

When you get an FHA loan, however, the federal government assumes some of that risk, allowing you to secure the loan anyway.

This means you can buy a home with a low credit score, a smaller than usual down payment, and save on some closing costs.

How do I qualify for an FHA Loan?

To find out if you qualify for an FHA loan, you’ll head to the same place as a traditional mortgage–a mortgage lender. Oftentimes, you can simply call or visit the website of lenders to get the process started.

As with all things, it’s a good idea to shop around for a mortgage lender. Their offerings will be largely similar, but there might be minor differences that make one better than another for your particular circumstances.

Down payment requirements

To secure an FHA loan, you will need to make a down payment of at least 3.5%. However, this low down payment comes with a price. You’ll typically be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) fees on top of your accruing interest for your loan.

Credit score requirements

While you can often secure a mortgage with a lower credit score through an FHA loan, there are still some requirements. To secure a loan with the lowest possible down payment (3.5%), you’ll need a credit score of 580 or above.

Previous homeowners and FHA loans

A common misconception about FHA loans is that they are only for first-time homeowners. However, you can still qualify for an FHA loan if you’ve owned a home before as long as it has been three years since you’ve had a foreclosure or two years since filing for bankruptcy.

If you meet these three conditions, you should be able to secure an FHA loan through a traditional mortgage lender.

Why It’s Worth Your Time to Conduct an In-Depth House Search

If you plan to conduct a house search, there is no reason to settle for inferior results. Instead, you should dedicate the necessary time and resources to conduct a comprehensive search for your dream house.

Ultimately, there are many reasons why it pays to perform an in-depth home search. These include:

1. You can avoid the risk of buying a subpar house.

As a homebuyer, it is paramount to discover a residence that meets or exceeds your expectations. Because if you purchase a house that falls short of your expectations, you may suffer the consequences of your decision for years to come.

For example, if you want to acquire a home quickly, you may be tempted to submit an offer to purchase the first house you view in-person. You might even choose to ignore house problems that are discovered during an inspection.

In the aforementioned scenario, you may wind up purchasing a home that will require costly, time-intensive repairs in the foreseeable future. Perhaps worst of all, you may struggle to generate equal value for your residence if you decide to re-sell it at a later date.

2. You can boost the likelihood of finding a house that matches your budget.

If you have a limited homebuying budget at your disposal, there is no need to leave any stone unturned in your quest for your ideal residence.

By dedicating time and resources to conduct an extensive house search, you’ll be better equipped than other buyers to find a first-rate residence at a budget-friendly price. Plus, you may be able to pounce at the opportunity to buy a home that matches your budget as soon as this residence becomes available.

3. You may be able to capitalize on a buyer’s market.

A patient homebuyer may be able to wait out a seller’s market, i.e. a real estate market that features an abundance of buyers and a shortage of sellers. And in this situation, a buyer could capitalize on a buyer’s market, i.e. a real estate market that boasts an abundance of sellers and a shortage of buyers. As a result, this buyer could choose from a wide selection of top-notch residences in a buyer’s market and select a residence that offers a great combination of affordability and quality.

If you plan to pursue a home soon, you may want to hire a real estate agent. Because if you have a real estate agent at your side, you can receive plenty of support throughout the property buying journey.

A real estate agent understands what it takes to conduct a thorough home search. He or she will keep you up to date about new houses that become available in your preferred cities and towns and offer expert homebuying recommendations. Also, if you want to submit an offer to purchase a home, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive homebuying proposal.

Simplify the homebuying process – work with a real estate agent, and you can streamline your house search.