Housing experts say it can take almost a full year to fix your finances before buying a home. So, if you know you want to buy a home within the next six months, like people hoping to make the leap in the spring, you need to start your financial cleanup now. Six months is perhaps an acceptable amount of time to plan a home purchase. It's long enough that you have enough breathing room to get your finances in order and eliminate any wrinkles that could cause problems, but not so long that it looks like your purchase is a long way off.
A homebuying schedule can be difficult to predict. It usually takes four weeks at the lower end to six months (or longer) to buy and close a home. But it can be faster if you make a strong bid right away in a fast-moving market or slower if you struggle to find the right place or continue to be outbid. According to Zillow research, about half of shoppers searched for less than three months, but 13% made purchases for seven months to a year.
The same week after Michael and I returned from our honeymoon, we found ourselves inside our 625 square foot apartment and decided it was time to start saving for a house. When we brought home our Doberman, Hugo, we knew it was time to go. Hugo was doing circles in the living room, Michael was occupying the bathroom and I was losing my mind with nowhere to hide. And in less than six months, we saved enough money to buy a house.
If you have a house to sell, now is the time to start preparing it for the market. Make repairs, shape the landscape, clean up clutter, pack what you don't need, and clean, clean and clean. Make your house shine and you'll get more money from the sale. Our Seller's Guide can give you more information, but a real estate agent can identify specific areas of your home to focus on.
For many sellers, preparation takes a few months, so it's best to start early. If you're planning to buy a home in the next few months, I bet you're already spending a lot of time going through online listings. New construction and unique financing options may take longer, but now is the time to finalize your moving plans, secure home insurance, negotiate home repairs (if needed) and bring utilities online.