Want to Buy a Home This Spring? Now is the Time to Start

In the past couple weeks, I’ve met several people who told me that they want to buy a home, but don’t feel that they need to start the homebuying process yet. They said, “We want to buy in the Spring.” I know there is snow on the ground now and it feels like we just got done with Christmas, but if you want a home in the Spring you should start now. Seriously. Let me explain why.

How long does it take to purchase a home in Nashville? Well of course, that depends on many factors. If you know the exact property you want and we get under contract quickly, you have cash and don’t need a mortgage, don’t need an inspection (or we are able to book one super-fast) and there are no inspection problems or title problems…you could be closed in a week. But that generally doesn’t happen.

So what’s normal? Well, in Nashville, if you are getting a mortgage, it’s generally 30-45 days from the time you get under contract until you get the keys to your new home. If you went under contract today, January 18, that would put you closing somewhere around March 1. But that doesn’t take into account the time it takes to actually get a property under contract. Let’s take a look:

Mortgage Preapproval: If you have a regular job (you receive a regular paycheck), have been working at the same place for a couple years, and have good credit –this can be a really fast process, like within 24 hours. But, if you are self-employed, or just changed jobs, or there is a problem with your credit, then this can take longer. Sometimes there are errors on your credit, and that can take a month or two to get corrected and updated on your credit report. Sometimes you need to pay down your credit card balances. Sometimes you just need time to gather all the documents needed like previous year taxes, pay stubs, etc. This can prolong the process by a week or so because we all have jobs and other responsibilities and can’t remember where we put this info, or we can’t get to a scanner, etc.
Timeline: anywhere from 24hrs to a couple of months (or even years)

First Realtor Meeting: Scheduling and doing this can usually happen within a week (if it takes longer than that to book a meeting with your agent — find another agent who has time for you). This is a time where you hear more about the process, and discuss what you are looking for in a property.
Timeline: let’s say a week

Looking at Properties: Depending on how organized you are (and how complicated your finances are), sometimes you can have the preapproval, first meeting and property tour all in the same day. But more frequently it takes a bit of time to determine the properties you want to see, find time in your busy week, and have your agent schedule the tour with all the listing agents. Also, it’s not impossible, but it’s rare that you find the perfect property on the first try. Especially in this Nashville market, inventory is low so it might take a bit of time to find your dream home. If your schedule isn’t very flexible, this step could take longer.
Timeline: 1 day to a couple weeks…or a few months

Getting Under Contract: This is another step that could go really fast, but usually doesn’t. When a client is ready to make an offer, there are several decisions to be made: offer price, closing date, special requests (do we want to keep that hot tub or ask for them to move it? Do we ask the seller for closing costs?) Once that is determined, there are several other forms to be prepped and signed in addition to the offer contract. Once all those are prepped and signed, we generally give the seller 12-24 hours to respond (though sometimes they request more time). When they respond, it’s generally with a counter-offer…and they give us 12-24 hours to respond. These negotiation can take a couple days (sometimes more if it’s during a holiday).
Timeline: 1 – 3 days

You can see how, depending on many factors, this time BEFORE you get under contract can add a week or even a month or more to your entire homebuying process. Even if you start tomorrow, there is a good chance you won’t be moved into your new house until late March. even if you aren’t in a hurry, I encourage you to go ahead and start today? Meet with your real estate agent, meet with your lender and get pre-approved, and then start talking about properties you’d like to see. Get a head start on all those other people who are going to “wait until the Spring” — and enjoy a winter market that traditionally has a little less competition. Better to get organized now than scramble later!

post by Leisa Wilcox, RE/MAX Homes and Estates. 615-813-1813 or lw@homeinmusiccity.com