This Is How Long It Takes to Close on a Home

published Oct 18, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

I have July 9, 2019 outlined in cartoon red hearts in a planner I will never throw away: it’s the day I finally closed on my first home! After a year of non-stop open houses, thousands of phone notifications from MLS apps, and two unsuccessful offers, my husband and I finally fell in love with the house that we eventually were able to buy. However, unlike getting an iPhone, this purchase required more than just making sure we had enough funds in our checking account. It was months of back-and-forth conversations between our real estate agent, the seller’s real estate agent, and our loan officer; SO much paperwork; and around 10 to 15 hours total of eating ice cream to soothe my anxiety. After finally getting our offer accepted, it took about 30 days to close on our dreamy dream home.

However, we were lucky it went so quickly. To our surprise, it usually takes much longer to close on a home. Interested in learning just how long it takes (and why) as well as what you can do to speed up the process? Here, everything you need to know about the timing of the closing process:

How long does it take to close on a house after offer is accepted?

According to Ellie Mae’s July 2019 Orientation Insights Report (the most recent available), it takes an average of 42 days to close on a home with financing.

However, the amount of time it takes to close on a house after an accepted offer really depends where you live, what kind of home you’re buying, and what kind of loan you’re taking out (if you’re even taking one out!)

How long does it take to close on a house with a VA loan?

Those who have served in America’s Armed Forces are eligible for Veteran Affairs (or VA) loans. They require no down payment, have lower closing costs than conventional lows, and offer more credit flexibility. While it’s been mythologized that VA loans take forever to process, according to Ellie Mae they close in an average of 46 days—only four days longer than a conventional loan.

Why does it sometimes take longer to close on a home?

Closing on a home can definitely take longer than 42 days, especially if you’re buying a co-op or condo. Co-ops and condos have different relationships to the multi-family building in which they’re housed.

Co-op owners pay into the entire building and own a share of the investment, but don’t actually own their space (interior or the exterior). They most likely have a contract or stock share that allows them to live there and be part of the co-op board association that makes all decisions about the building—maintenance projects as well as who gets to buy in.

Condo owners, on the other hand, usually own the interior of their space and then own a share of the property’s common spaces and exteriors. There are boards, too, but they only decide maintenance—not tenants or owners.

Because of these extra steps (and their involvement with other parties beyond buyer and seller), co-ops and condos can take much longer to close. Bill Kowalczuk, a broker who works for Warburg Realty in NYC, says that closing in Manhattan, for example, can take 60 to 90 days.

Here’s how that breaks down, on average, according to Kowalczuk:

  • Contract negotiations and completion of due diligence by the buyer’s attorney: five to seven business days.
  • Completion of sales application for the co-op/condo board: 10 to 14 days (another week if there’s financing involved.)
  • Appraisal: seven to 10 days.
  • Application review by co-op managing agent before sending to board: three to seven days
  • Board process, plus interviews: seven to 14 days.

How long does it take to close on a house after appraisal?

Adi Perez, an agent for The Agency in LA, says it takes about 10-14 days to close on a house if the appraisal came in value.

However, if the asking price comes in over- or -under value, it’ll take longer since sorting out this complication means more communication between parties and paperwork everyone has to sign. For example, a buyer’s agent may need to negotiate with the seller’s agent on home price or the buyer may have to work on securing additional funding. This can easily add a week or two.

How long does it take to close on a house with cash?

Since an all-cash buyer cuts the mortgage process and appraisal out of the equation, Kowalczuk says this can reduce the process by two to three weeks.

How can I speed up closing on a house? 

Louis Adler, principal and co-founder of REAL New York, says that getting your finances and related paperwork in order at the beginning of the buying process can really speed up closing.

I can attest to this: The year before I started looking for a home, I started paying off my credit aggressively and worked hard to establish habits that would increase my score. Then, once we began to look at houses, I was extremely on top of singing my documents; communicated with HR at my job that they should be expecting a call about my employment; and sorted my tax returns, bank documents, and pay stubs in advance. Also, any time I received an email or call from my agent or loan office, I answered it as quickly as I could.

All this definitely sped up the process and helped make up for the three to four days of lost time when we ran into undisclosed issues with the foundation. Since we had made a good impression on the seller’s agent, too, we were able to easily negotiate a lower selling price and credit to fix it ourselves.

How long does the actual closing take?

The process to physically close on a house takes about an hour, at least in my experience. I drove to my loan officer’s building and signed a stack of papers about as tall as a toddler (like, a LOT of papers). Along with my husband, my real estate agent and a third party were also there (in my case, an escrow company associate) as witnesses. 

Once everything was filed, my husband and I met our agent at our soon-to-be house a couple days later and were given all the keys! You won’t find this in any official report of the process, but here’s an absolutely crucial tip: Prepare for a lot of squealing and “OMG!”s once you close—also, maybe a glass (or three) of celebratory wine.

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