home buying timeline

A Sample Home Buying Timeline

August 27, 2021 | Buying a Home | By: The Goodhart Group

A Sample Home Buying Timeline

Thinking about buying a home? We know it can be a very exciting and stressful time – that’s why we write all of these home buying process blogs, to help you know what to expect throughout the home buying timeline.

One of the most common questions we get during our initial buyer consultations is how long the home buying timeline is. The short answer? It’s different for every buyer. But based on our experience of working with literally thousands of buyers, the sample home buying timeline below holds true in most cases when a buyer is actively looking in the market. This home buying timeline begins when you hire your Realtor.

Hiring Your Buyer Team

Normal Timeframe: Varies! You set this home buying timeline.
YOUR REALTOR – Have an initial consultation with a Realtor in which you discuss your wants and needs and what to expect throughout the process. This is the perfect time to ask any questions you have about the home buying process. After you decide to move forward, you will hire your Realtor and broker by signing the buyer broker agreement.
YOUR LENDER – Your Realtor will often have lenders that they recommend to you. It’s crucial that you select an excellent lender who will adhere to the contract and get you to settlement on time! You should select your lender right after selecting your Realtor.

Get Pre-Approved for a Loan

Normal Timeframe: 1 day
Compared to the full approval, which can take several weeks to a month, the pre-approval typically only takes about 30-60 minute meeting or phone call with your lender.

The Search is On

Normal Timeframe: 1 to 3 months
If you are early on in your search, you will likely do a buyer orientation tour to familiarize yourself with the market and the area. After you feel you have a good sense of what you are looking for – typically after about three to four weeks – you will feel ready to laser focus your search. You will be ready to write an offer if the right property comes on the market.

Depending on what type of property you are looking for (and its location), you might have lots of options, in which case, you could find “the” one right away. On the flip side, there might be very few available properties, in which case it can take a few months – or even years, in some cases – of occasionally looking at homes that come on the market. In other cases, clients come to us after doing the initial legwork of narrowing down to what they like. It’s not uncommon for these buyers to buy within a week or two of working with us.

We Found the House!

Writing an Offer

Normal timeframe: 1 day
Once we find “the” house, we will look at the comparable sales or “comps,” get information on the major systems and updates in the house and develop a strategy for writing a competitive offer. We will write up the offer and submit it to the listing agent to present to their sellers.

Initial Response from the Seller

Normal timeframe: 1 day

In some cases, you will receive a response within hours of submitting your offer. In others it will take several days. However, in most cases sellers will respond to you within 24 hours of your offer.


Normal timeframe: 2-3 days
This timing holds true in the counter-offer, or negotiation process, as well. Often, we see a couple of rounds of counters, so if the offer is going to work out, the parties typically come to agreement within two or three days. This period can really vary: we have also had contracts ratify the same day as well as some that finally came together after weeks of negotiations! Our team will guide you through whether a delay is a cause for concern.

You Got the House! Ratification to Move-In

Normal Timeframe: 30 – 60 days.

Once you and the seller come to terms, it’s called ratification. The timeframe between ratification and settlement is often between one and two months. During this time, you will conduct the necessary inspections and complete your loan application – not to mention arrange for your actual move!

Some of the important steps during this period are:

Inspections are Scheduled and Conducted

The home and termite inspections and radon tests (for homes with basements) will take place soon after ratification. Speciality inspections, such as roof, chimney, sewer, pool, lead, electrical, etc – would also happen during this period. The normal timeframe for these inspections is one week or less.

Home Inspection Requests Are Made

Immediately after the home inspection, you can request that the sellers make certain repairs, or can request a dollar amount to be credited from the sellers to you at settlement in lieu of making the repairs. For more on the timing of this period, read our home inspections article.

Home Appraisal

Your lender will order the appraisal after ratification. The appraiser will then conduct his inspection and issue the report. Typically, the report is ready ten days after appraisal is done. The entire appraisal process typically takes 14-21 days. For more details on the home appraisal contingency and process, click here.

Loan Application

Since you’ve already chosen your lender, coordinate with them on finalizing the loan with the property’s specifics and final sales price. Remember these important tips for this period! This process typically takes 30 days.

If you are not obtaining a loan, you can close quicker than 30 days – even as quickly as a week! However, the seller might not be ready to move that quickly. For vacant properties, it is best to assume 30 days. For occupied properties, we often check with the seller on their preferred home buying timeline (if you are in a competitive situation, the right settlement date can tip the scales in your favor).

Final Walk-Through

Normal timeframe: 30-60 Minutes
Before you close on the property, you will do a final walk-through of the house to make sure it is still in “substantially the same condition” as it was when you decided to purchase it. This is also the time to check that any repairs that the seller agreed to during the home inspection negotiation were in fact done.


Normal home buying timeframe: One Hour

At settlement, all documents are signed. The property ownership officially and legally transfers to you. The loan is funded and you can officially take over ownership of the home and can move in! For more on the specifics of settlements, read our post on what happens at settlement.


Every real estate transaction is different. We’ve seen people buy and close on homes within weeks and in other cases, it takes several months or even years. If you are buying, enlist an experienced Realtor and lender to guide you through the process.

Want to talk more about your home search? We are here to help. Reach out today so we help you reach your real estate goals.

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  1. That is good to know that a normal time frame for finding a house is one to three months. My husband and I have been wanting to buy a home, but we don’t know how long it could take. I’m glad that it could take us a while. We will have to be patient and take our time.

  2. My wife and I are wanting to buy our first home this year, so thanks for sharing this timeline. I like that you mention how the loan application process can take up to 30 days. We’ll have to do this soon so we can start looking at houses within our price range.

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