Buying a home ought to be a thoughtful and thorough process. After all, it’s one of your biggest investments. One of the questions that someone who is planning to buy a home would ask is, “how long does it take to buy a house?”

It usually accepts 40 to 50 days to close a home sale from the time a contract is signed. But before the contract, there are other steps involved, including house hunting, pre-approval, and application process. This means buying a house typically takes more than 50 days. But before we answer the question, “how long does it take to buy a house in Cincinnati?” here’s a glimpse of the Cincinnati real estate market:

How Long Does the House-Buying Process Take? A Step-by-Step Guide

To give you a good idea on the average time to buy a house, it helps to know the steps in the buying process and how long each step typically takes. The steps can also answer the question: “what do I need to buy my first home?”

Cincinnati Real Estate Market

It can be tricky to predict the time it takes to buy a house. But in general, it takes anywhere from a month at the low end to half a year (or more) to find and close on a house. Since Cincinnati, Ohio is considered a seller’s market, if you want to score a property quickly you need to make a strong cash offer. Otherwise, you’d be outbid and need to find another home.

Cincinnati is a seller’s market. This means there is a limited supply of houses in the real estate market, and buyers need to compete with each other to get the property they want. Sellers get the advantage of higher prices and faster sales. Simply put, the demand exceeds the supply. There are more active buyers than available homes for sale.

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Find a Good Real Estate Agent [7-14 Days]

The primary thing to do is to ask a family member, friend or coworker who purchased a home if they can recommend a reputable agent. You would want someone trustworthy and has the experience and knowledge on the available inventory in the location you want to find a home. In about 7 days, you should be able to contact the agent of your choice. It may take longer if you don’t have a referral from someone you know.

If none around you can refer someone, do some research and prepare a set of questions for potential agents and check reviews and find out their specialties. Other than their knowledge, reputation, and experience, you’d also want to work with an agent you’re comfortable with. A good agent can help you avoid a bad purchase and help you all throughout from shopping for a home to closing.

Get Pre-Approval [7-14 Days]

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage only takes 1 to 5 business days, but it’s best to spend time researching different lenders and mortgage types so you can get the best deal for you. Loan pre-approval is required and lets you know if you are qualified for a mortgage. The documents needed for pre-approval include: debt and credit information, tax returns, paystubs, and if you’re purchasing with a spouse or partner, both of you need to present these documents.

To check for the best rates, you can choose to apply with multiple lenders.

Create a List of What you Need in a House. [3 Days]

It’s best to take some time to think about the things that you truly need in your new home such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the location. Also, think about the things you want in your next home but you’ll be fine without. Once you are done creating a list of both, discuss it with your agent. Having this list will be extremely helpful when you begin browsing homes online that meet your needs (and wants). Also, take in consideration how much your budget is.

Here’s a list of some important things that most people usually look for in a house:

  • Location – Do you want your next home to be located conveniently for work? Are there good schools for your kids?
  • Size of the home
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms

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Shopping for Your Next Home [81-135 Days]

House-hunting takes one of the biggest chunks of time in buying a home. Based on Zillow research, about 50 percent of buyers searched for less than 3 months, but 13 percent did house-hunting for 7 months to a year.

Your agent will set up viewings of houses you are interested in. Again, the time it takes will vary. In some places, you can visit multiple homes within the same week and make an offer and get accepted the same day. In other markets, you will need to wait for the right home for you, if not get outbidded multiple times before your offer is accepted. The average time spent looking for a home is about 135 days or four and a half months based on Zillow research.

On the other hand, An Insight Media study found that house-hunting takes 81 days before finding one to buy, and most buyers view about 16 houses online before finding one they want. On average, it takes one day before scheduling a visit. In the same study, it was reported that 14 percent of people had to compromise on some aspect of their ideal home. In Cincinnati’s seller’s market where homes receive multiple offers or have a bidding war, 25 percent of home buyers or more may end up getting outbid and thus prolonging their home search.

Make an Offer. [5 Days]

Now that you’ve found the one, it’s time to put in an offer. You and your agent will discuss and settle on the best price you’ll offer. A standard 1 percent earnest money is needed, but if you are in a tough seller’s market, it’s recommended to bump it to 3 to 6 percent to show how serious you are in buying the house.

Get Your Loan Approved. [21 to 60 Days]

Hurray! The seller accepted your offer. It’s time to get your mortgage. For the final mortgage documents, you need to present more documents such as current bank statements and work stubs. These documents are needed for the completion of the underwriting process and loan approval. This is called the closing process. It takes 50 days on average to close on a house. An appraisal and inspection are also required by the lender (to be discussed in the next steps). These steps should be done while you’re waiting for your closing day.

Wait For the Appraisal. [7-14 Days]

To determine your next home’s value, the lender hires a professional to conduct an appraisal. Typically, the appraisal can be scheduled within a week, and you’ll wait another 3 days for the report. Ideally, it should be higher than the price you negotiated. In case it is not, you may have to either renegotiate with the home seller or increase your down payment.

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Get a Home Inspection. [7-21 Days]

An appraisal is used to determine the value of the home and the lender will be the one to hire a professional to do it. A home inspection is needed to make sure you are aware of any unpleasant surprises in your next home. You will be the one to hire a home inspector. You usually have 10 days for the home inspection to be completed. You’ll get the inspection report usually after 24 hours. In case there are unexpected issues, you need to renegotiate and that could take a week or more.

Close on Your New House. [1 Day]

Before the closing day, make sure to have a final walk-through to check if all repairs are completed and there are no damages. You will be advised of whether you will bring a cashier’s check or make a digital money transfer to pay the closing costs.

No more hard stuff here. This is your last day on the buying process. It’s the closing day. You’ll need a photo ID and a pen to sign pages of documents. You hand over your down payment and ending costs. You sign lots of documents and after that, the keys to your new home are put in your hand. Congratulations! You’ve purchased a house!

What’s The Fastest Way to Buy a Home?

As mentioned earlier, the answer to the question ‘how long does it take to buy a house?’ can vary, and it’s the same with the question, ‘how fast can you buy a house?’ How fast you can buy a house depends on many factors. But the fastest way to purchase one is to pay all cash for the property. When you pay all cash, there’s no lender involved so you are eliminating the time it takes for underwriting or getting the approval for the loan. The next question is, how long does it take to buy a house cash? Given that everything works out logistically, you can close a home sale in just a couple of weeks when paying cash.

What Are Some Red Flags Every Buyer Should Know When Shopping for a House?

Check if there are any big cracks in the foundation of the house as well as its driveway and walls. Another red flag is a musty smell or damp feel inside the house.

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How Do You Avoid Delays When Buying a House?

A number of things can become stumbling blocks in purchasing a house. Some sales that go to contract have delays due to issues such as:

  • The buyer is having a hard time securing financing.
  • The appraisal value didn’t match the terms of the loan.
  • The home inspection report indicates that the home needs major repairs.
  • Buyer losing a job
  • Issues with title/deed
  • Hazard and flood insurance issues

According to reports from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), nearly 20 percent of delays were caused by financing troubles of the buyer. It’s one of the leading causes for delays. Another top reason for delay is appraisal problems. You can avoid facing these issues with a cash offer. But if you can’t do a cash offer, you may need a second appraisal, renegotiate the price, or make a bigger down payment.

To make sure that everything is on way, your communication with your lender should be your top priority. When your lender asks for additional documents, respond as quickly as you can.

One thing you should really do to avoid trouble financing is to iron out your finances and get pre-approved ahead of time. It will help make the buying process run smoother and faster.

Here’s what you can do along with a timeline of preparing yourself financially before getting yourself pre-approved:

  • At least 6-12 months before pre-approval, save up for a down payment. This way, you can show the lender that you have the means to buy a house. Also, clean up your credit. Lenders will review your credit history to see if you are creditworthy. You will want to find ways to raise your credit score to get you in a better position to get pre-approved or land a better rate.
  • From 3 to 5 months before submitting documents for pre-approval, do not take out any new loans or make any drastic changes such as changing jobs since it may affect your loan eligibility. It’s best to keep your status quo in your finances to prevent delays in your loan approval.
  • During 1 to 2 months before getting pre-approved, prepare the documents that are required for a pre-approval such as federal tax returns, recent pay stubs and bank statements.

Final Words

What’s more important than knowing the answer to the question ‘how long does it take to buy a house’ is to be prepared on each step of the home buying process so it can go as smoothly and quickly as possible. And ultimately, being prepared puts you in a better position to score your ideal home.