One of the main questions new homeowners have is how soon they can move in once they spot the house of their dreams. The truth is that the process can take around three to six months from start to finish.

It’s not as simple as just viewing the houses and falling in love with one and buying it. Unless you have cash in your pocket to buy it, you’ll have to deal with various stages of paperwork from opening to closing the deal, and getting the keys so you can move in.

Getting Pre-Approved for Your Mortgage

Getting pre-approved is key so you know your budget (roughly) and realtors will be willing to work with you. Get a pre-approval letter from your lender before you start to look.

Viewing Houses

Viewing houses can be the fun and also the frustrating part. It will depend on your needs and tastes. It will also depend on how soon you want to move. Expect the entire process to take at least three months.

Making an Offer

If you decide you want to make an offer, do so through your realtor.

Giving an Earnest Money Deposit

Once you decide to make an offer, you will need to give an earnest money deposit of 1% to 3% of the price of the home. This will show you are serious, and the seller will then take the house off the market. Give the money to your realtor, who will put it in escrow for safekeeping until it can be used as part of the down payment for your house.

The House Inspection

The house inspection is essential in order to determine if the price is right, and if the house is in good repair. You can adjust your offer based on what the inspector finds. Once the list of repairs is completed, or you’ve agreed to a lower price, the sale can go ahead.

Finalizing Your Mortgage

Once you are clear about how much you need to borrow, you can finalize your mortgage.

Gathering Your Down Payment

Make sure your down payment is ready so you can hand it over as and when needed.

Decide on a Closing Date

Decide when you will have all the paperwork and money available to be able to close.

Determine a Move-In Date

If the seller is still living in the house, be sure to negotiate a move-in date before you close. If you are in a hurry, this could put you both under a lot of pressure. However, you don’t want to be paying rent and a mortgage at the same time, so the sooner you can move in, the better.

You should usually get the keys within a week of closing. If you can’t get the keys right away, be clear about the number of days of occupancy they are requesting, such as 30 or 60 days after closing.

What If They Can’t Move?

What happens if the seller hasn’t moved? This can happen if they are looking for their ideal new home too, and are delayed in completing their purchase.

Your occupancy date should not be changed once it is set. It is part of the entire legal agreement in buying the home. However, you could offer to rent the home to them for the price of the mortgage payment each month until they finally move. This is commonly referred to as a leaseback. It can be frustrating, but it will be worth the wait.

Keep in regular communication with your realtor until such time as you have the keys and are completely moved in. They can help you with any issues so you can all do your best to make sure your move-in date will go according to plan.

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