Home > Mortgages > How Fast Can You Buy a Home?

Comments 0 Comments

In hot markets across the country, homes are selling fast. And that means if you hope to buy a home, you have to be prepared to move quickly.

“I’ve seen all cash offers close in three days,” says Realtor.com’s Consumer Housing Specialist Leslie Piper. “And I’ve seen loans get approved and close within 21-25 days.”

Forty-five percent of all homes sold in May 2013 were on the market for less than a month, according to the National Association of Realtors. It also reports that the median time on market for all homes was 41 days in May. Short sales were on the market for a median of 79 days, while foreclosures typically sold in 43 days and non-distressed homes took 39 days.

If you don’t have cash to buy a home, it’s critical that you get pre-approved for a mortgage. “Prior to starting your house hunt, you give your lender all of your financials,” says Scott Sheldon, a loan officer with Sonoma County Mortgages. “You let them pull a copy of your credit report, run your debt ratios … and you go house hunting knowing you are ready to roll.”

Once your offer on the home is accepted, be prepared to be at your loan officer’s beck and call. “If you are diligent about providing the lender everything they request, you should be able to close in 25 days or less provided the real estate agent title company and everyone is diligent about meeting contractual time frames,” Sheldon adds.

Barriers to Speedy Homebuying

Piper warns that if deadlines can’t be met, you can lose the home. “We are seeing a lot of back-up offers so if someone overpromises but underperforms things can fall out of escrow.”

Searching for the right home to buy might take a little longer.

According to an annual survey by the National Association of Realtors, the typical buyer searched for a home for a median 12 weeks and visited 10 homes, down from 12 homes in the previous year’s survey.

It helps to find a real estate professional you can trust to help you in your search. “That person is going to be your eyes and ears and tell you what is going on,” says Piper. In addition to providing profiles on real estate professionals, Realtor.com offers free mobile apps with information about millions of homes for sale, and includes the ability to search within a particular school district.

Also be sure to scout out neighborhoods where you’d like to live so you are prepared to make an offer when a home you like becomes available. “Most buyers are choosing a (home) based on the neighborhood,” says Walter Molony, spokesman for National Association of Realtors. “They want to be close to work or close to family and friends. If you are an entry level buyer you want to make sure you understand that neighborhood. Try it in rush hour. Get a crime report if you don’t have first-hand knowledge. Check out schools if you are a family with children.”

Tips to Buy a Home Fast

  • Check your credit reports and your credit score before you start shopping for a home to give yourself time to fix any mistakes you find. You can check your credit reports for free once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.  You can also check your credit score using Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card.
  • Get preapproved — not just prequalified — for a mortgage. Doing so may even put you at an advantage over a cash buyer who may be offering less money.
  • Work with real estate and mortgage professionals who have a track record of meeting deadlines. Don’t be afraid to ask for references.
  • Protect yourself. No matter how much you love the home, make your offer contingent upon a satisfactory home inspection, so you aren’t stuck with a house with unknown problems, suggests Molony.

Image: iStockphoto

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team