Buying a home is one of the biggest investments most families ever make, so it should not be rushed. Typically, the homebuying process can take up to six months or more, but it can also go much faster with a little planning and preparation ahead of time. Due to high market demand, it’s best to be pre-approved for a loan before even placing an offer. Working with an established lender such as AAFMAA Mortgage Services, LLC (AMS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of AAFMAA, can help the process go faster.
Read on for an estimated timeline and breakdown of how long the homebuying process takes.
Optional Step: Apply for a VA Certificate of Eligibility
Estimated time to complete: Up to 6 weeks.
If you are planning on using a VA home loan, you must first obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) proving you meet the government’s requirements for a VA mortgage. You can apply for your VA COE online via the Department of Veterans Affairs eBenefits portal, or you can apply by mail using VA Form 26-1880. If you choose to apply by mail, it can take up to 6 weeks to receive a response. However, applying online is a quick process.
Step 1: Getting Pre-Approved
Estimated time to complete: 1 to 2 weeks.
The pre-approval process usually doesn’t take long, especially if your credit is in good shape and you have your required paperwork readily available. Completing all required information, submitting the right documents, and responding to emails and phone calls right away will help get the process moving quickly and smoothly. Assuming that is the case, you can generally expect pre-approval to be completed within a couple of weeks.
Step 2: Searching for a Home
Estimated time to complete: Up to 3 months.
This is usually the longest part of the homebuying process. Families typically spend about 3 months finding the perfect property, but it can go much faster depending on your wants, needs, and housing market trends. Working with a real estate agent can streamline this process, too.
Step 3: Submitting an Offer
Estimated time to complete: Up to 2 weeks.
When you find the right house, your real estate agent can help you negotiate an offer and the terms of sale, including price, repairs that you’ll need before closing, and any closing costs you want the sellers to pay. How fast the rest of the process goes depends on the seller’s response to your offer, which can be one of three actions:
- Accepting the offer, which should mean things begin to move forward right away.
- Rejecting the offer, at which point you can submit a new offer or look for another property.
- Making a counteroffer, which changes your submitted terms. Most counteroffers require increasing the sales price, changing closing cost requirements, or changing conditions of sale. You can accept or reject the counteroffer or make a subsequent counteroffer. Renegotiation can add anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to your home buying timeline.
Step 4: Final Tasks and Closing
Estimated time to complete: About a month.
In most cases, finalizing all the details required for closing takes about 30 to 45 days. During this time, several key steps must be taken:
- Appraisal: Your lender will schedule an appraisal, which is an expert calculation by an independent third party to determine how much the property is worth. If you are getting a VA mortgage loan, you’ll be required to get a specific VA home appraisal to ensure the home meets certain requirements
- Home Inspection: A home inspection provides details of things in the home that need to be repaired or replaced. While having a home inspection is always a good idea for the buyer, it is not always required.
- Underwriting: Your lender will do a more detailed investigation into your income, assets, and debt to make sure you meet the loan qualifications.
- Closing: Once everything is completed and approved, you’ll receive a Closing Disclosure from your lender, outlining the loan terms. By law, you must have at least 3 days to read all the paperwork before your closing meeting. After that 3-day period, you’ll sign your loan papers, pay any down payment due, and the home will be yours!
We’re Here to Help
When the time comes to buy a house, you’ll want to work with a mortgage company that specializes in helping military families, like AMS. To learn more about VA and other mortgage options, or to get pre-approved for a home loan contact AMS online or call (877) 387-6856.