What's the Fastest Way to Buy a House?
Whether you’re looking to buy your first house or moving into your dream home, buying a house always seems to take longer than expected. While it might not be so bad if the wait only meant delaying moving into your new home, the drawn-out process can cause all sorts of other complications, from finding temporary housing to the ever-present possibility that the seller will back out at the last minute.
It usually takes a few weeks just to look at prospective properties, followed by negotiations with the current owners that aren’t guaranteed to succeed. From that point, it still takes an average of 50 days to close on the new home. If all of that sounds like too much, however, there are a few things you can do to increase the odds of making a quick purchase.
Buy the Home With Cash
The fastest way to buy a home is to pay all cash for the property. Assuming that everything works out logistically, it's possible to buy a home in a couple of weeks when paying cash. There are a few reasons why an all-cash transaction expedites the homebuying process.
The reason why buying a home with cash is faster is that it eliminates the need to take out a home loan, since the process of applying and receiving approval from the bank can take a few weeks. If the lender is dealing with many homebuyers, this process can take even longer. An all-cash transaction eliminates these steps.
A cash offer is also attractive to sellers since they know that you won't have to worry about securing a mortgage. Financing issues are one reason why many real estate transactions fall through, so if a seller receives both a cash offer and another that's dependent on the buyer's ability to procure financing, the cash offer will usually win out.
Get Pre-Approved for a Home Loan Before You Start Shopping
Even though cash is king when you want to purchase a house quickly, most people don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars available to purchase a home outright. If you need to obtain a mortgage to buy your new home, you can expedite the process by getting pre-approved for a home loan (not to be confused with pre-qualifying, which has fewer requirements) before you start touring properties.
To do this, you provide a bank with all the information and documents needed to approve a loan, such as proof of income, bank statements and access to your credit history. They then determine how much you can borrow and provide you with a letter that states the amount you're pre-approved for.
This document shows sellers that you’ll be able back up an offer you make on the house, while the bank having your information can speed up the loan approval process. Some banks may also be willing to provide you with a letter that states you’re pre-approved for less than you really are. This can be helpful if you’re worried about the seller thinking they should ask for a bigger offer in response to your high pre-approval amount.
Work With a Real Estate Agent to Find a Home
Regardless of whether you plan to pay cash for your home or need to take out a mortgage, a real estate agent can help you find a house you love as quickly as possible. Your real estate agent will ask you what criteria you desire in a home, taking into account your ideal size, preferred location and must-have features. They’ll then find properties that meet your needs and set up times for you to view the homes that you're interested in.
When you find a property you love, your agent will assist you with preparing an offer for the home and negotiating the details of the deal with the seller. They can expedite the offer process and any subsequent negotiations by providing guidance as to whether the seller is likely to accept your deal. For example, if you're purchasing a home in a market with limited inventory, your real estate agent will likely encourage you to come in strong with your first offer.
Your agent can continue to be a valuable resource even after you're under contract on a house by assisting you with scheduling inspections and an appraisal. They will also try to handle any issues that arise that may delay your closing date. And best of all? The seller usually pays the buyer’s agent through a commission on the sale. While that commission is usually anticipated in the price of the house, you’ll nevertheless save not only time, but also money by going with a real estate agent.
Sell Your Home Before You Start Shopping for a New Home
If you currently own a home and can afford to do so, consider selling your current house before you start searching for a new one. Otherwise, you run the risk of your old home slowing down the purchase of your new house.
For example, you might decide to include a contingency that states your offer is dependent on your ability to sell your existing home. While this contingency gives you financial protection, it can slow down the homebuying process, as some sellers may skip over offers with this type of requirement. That in turn can increase the length of time it takes for you to find a willing seller.