How to Buy a Condo: 8 Best Tips

Guide to Buying a Condo: 8 Things to Do

Considering a condo? A condo could be a good choice as a starter home, a retirement nest, an investment property, or a dwelling for anyone who wants amenities but little maintenance.

You’ll want to weigh the upsides and potential downsides before taking the plunge and buying a condo.

What Is a Condo?

When a person buys a condo, as opposed to buying into a co-op, they own the unit in the building or complex, but they don’t own anything outside those four walls. That includes the structure of the building, the roof, and the ground the building sits on.

The parts of the property not owned directly by the condo residents are managed by a homeowners association. The HOA maintains the property with fees collected from residents.

If you’re weighing a condo vs. townhouse, you’ll want to know the key differences.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Buying a Condo?

Ultimately, the choice to buy a house or condo will be based on the buyer’s preferences and budget.

Pros of buying a condo include:

•   Affordability. Generally, a condo will cost less than a detached single-family home.

•   Amenities. If it’s important to have access to amenities like a pool, gym, dog park, or parking garage, a condo might fit the bill.

•   Lower home insurance and property taxes. Because condo owners aren’t directly responsible for the exterior of the building, home insurance is less than for a single-family home.

•   Low maintenance. Beyond maintaining the immediate residence, condo owners don’t have to worry about mowing the lawn or replacing the roof on their own.

•   Lower utility bills. As condos are generally smaller than single-family homes, there are lower utility bills.

•   City settings. Condos are more likely to crop up in densely populated areas, making them an affordable entry point for owning property in an urban setting.

Is a particular condo within your means? Check out this home mortgage calculator.

There are plenty of upsides when someone buys a condo, but here are some downsides:

•   Privacy. Condos are shared residences with communal space. If buyers value privacy and their own outdoor space, a condo might not be a good fit.

•   Building rules. Condo boards dictate how a building is run, including if units can be rented, exterior colors, and allowance of pets.

•   HOA fees. Since maintaining the building is a collective responsibility, condo owners pay monthly or quarterly fees to the HOA. The fees are likely to rise every year. A sizable special assessment may be charged for major repairs.

•   Smaller space. Condos vary in size, but they’re unlikely to be as large as most single-family homes.

•   Slow appreciation. Condos tend to appreciate more slowly than single-family homes, but appreciation is also based on location and the market.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.

Things to Do Before Buying a Condo

Still not sure if a condo is the right fit? Before figuring out how to purchase a condo, consider these eight steps.

1. Consider Your Lifestyle

A condo could be a perfect fit for highly social people who prioritize proximity over privacy. Since condos tend to be smaller, the ideal condo owner should enjoy the communal offerings of the building, including everything from pools to rooftop decks.

As condos are often in cities, it could be the right fit if being close to the hustle and bustle is important to a buyer.

People who are downsizing often find a condo a good choice. Buyers who dread upkeep can own a home without mowing a lawn or maintaining a roof.

On the other hand, if a buyer values privacy and space, a condo might clash with their sensibilities. A condo won’t give them that opportunity if they want storage or a garden.

2. Work With an Agent Who Has Experience in Condos

Buying a condo with an agent specializing in single-family homes is like going to the dentist for an earache.

Finding the right agent is about personality fit and experience. When interviewing agents, ask about what types of properties they buy and sell regularly. An agent with a lot of experience in condo sales will be more familiar with buildings in the area and their HOAs, amenities, and property management.

3. Consider the Pros and Cons

The perfect property doesn’t exist, so it’s worth weighing the pros and cons of condo living compared with a single-family home that’s not in an HOA community:


Single-Family Home

Amenities Pool, gym, dog park, deck space, meeting rooms, parking (depending on building) Amenities vary by property
Maintenance Little to no maintenance Owner responsible for entire property
Privacy Shared walls/ceilings and shared amenities Stand-alone property, more private space
Affordability Lower insurance, utility bills.
Generally lower purchase price.
Higher monthly bills.
Typically more expensive than a condo.
Space Smaller Larger

4. Decide What Type of Amenities You Want

If a condo feels like the right fit, it’s time to decide which amenities are musts and which are simply nice to have.

Amenities could include:

•   Pool

•   Dog park

•   Fitness center/spa

•   Covered parking or parking garage

•   Business center/party rooms

•   Rooftop deck

•   Landscape management/gardens

•   Valet

•   Onsite programming or events

Once buyers understand what they need and what they don’t, they can more efficiently narrow down condos in the area based on amenities. Of course, the more amenities, the higher the maintenance fee will be.

5. Find an Approved Condo Community

Condo buyers who qualify for an FHA loan will need to find an FHA-approved condo community, one that meets requirements set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Buyers can search for these properties using HUD’s database .

Buyers wanting to use a VA loan can check a different database .

Most conventional mortgage lenders will require a “limited review” of most condominiums in the form of a questionnaire sent to the HOA. Among the criteria: Ten percent of HOA dues must be allocated to reserves, less than 15% of units must be in arrears with dues, and more than half the units must be owner-occupied.

Want to learn more about mortgages? Visit the help center for home loans.

6. Research the Property Management Company

Diving deep into property management is an important step of what to look for when buying a condo.

Before settling on a property, it’s important to research the property management company hired by the HOA to maintain the building. Consider double-checking on its licensing, reviews, and if there’s any ongoing litigation against the management company.

7. Review HOA Fees and Regulations

Hand in hand with researching the property management company is reviewing the HOA fees and regulations. HOA fees may be charged to condo owners monthly or quarterly, and range from a couple hundred a month to thousands. The fees could cover:

•   General upkeep and maintenance

•   Shared amenities

•   Some utilities

•   Security

•   Future upgrades

•   A master insurance policy to cover liability and repairs for common areas

If possible, request minutes from HOA meetings or inquire about recent hikes in fees. If the HOA doesn’t have much in reserves or is anticipating increases in fees, that can affect a buyer’s monthly housing budget.

In addition to researching fees, take a close look at the covenants, conditions, and restrictions, known as the CC&Rs. HOAs can impose regulations regarding:

•   Pets in the building

•   Renting out property

•   Use of common areas

•   Renovation or maintenance of owner units

Some HOAs have stricter regulations than others. For example, investors may want to avoid buying a unit in a building where rentals, or short-term rentals such as Airbnbs, aren’t allowed.

8. Ask About Special Assessments

Special assessments are one-time payments required of condo owners when reserves won’t cover a major expense. The HOA may require a special assessment if an elevator breaks or the roof unexpectedly begins leaking.

It’s a good idea for any condo hunter to ask when the last special assessment was collected. If there’s a history of frequent payments, it may be a sign of HOA mismanagement. Ideally, the HOA should have money set aside in case of an emergency.

If possible, ask the listing agent for the HOA’s financial statements to reveal how much the building has in reserves. If it’s low, there’s a chance of a special assessment in the future.

The Takeaway

Condo living offers amenities, city living, and affordability. But buying a condo requires research. Working with the right agent and looking beyond the unit for sale can help direct the home search.

Ready to kick the condo search up a notch? SoFi offers low fixed rate mortgages on primary homes, second homes, and investments.

Compare SoFi’s home loan rates, and open the door to a new condo.


What should you avoid when buying a condo?

Red flags to look for when buying a condo include issues with the HOA and ongoing litigation with the property management company. Condo buyers would be smart to review the building’s financial records for reserve funds, lawsuits, and delinquencies.

Are condos hard to resell?

In general, condos don’t appreciate as quickly as single-family homes, but a condo that’s a good value for the current market and that is in a desirable area will likely not be hard to sell.

Should you invest in condos?

Investing in condos will generally be less expensive than investing in single-family homes, but it’s worth examining the HOA bylaws to ensure that the condo can be rented out, and for how long at a time.

Photo credit: iStock/Sundry Photography

SoFi Mortgages
Terms and conditions apply. Not all products are offered in all states. See for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.


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Purchase-Money Mortgage: Definition and Example

Purchase-Money Mortgage: Definition and Example

With a purchase-money mortgage, the seller finances part or all of the property for the buyer, who usually does not qualify for traditional financing.

Keep reading to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of a purchase-money mortgage.

What Is a Purchase-Money Mortgage?

A purchase-money mortgage is also known as owner financing. The seller extends credit to the buyer to purchase the property. This can be a portion of the sales price or the full price.

In other words, the buyer borrows from the seller instead of a traditional lender. The seller ultimately determines the interest rate, down payment, and closing costs. Both parties sign a promissory note.

They record a deed of trust or mortgage with the county. The seller usually retains title until the financed amount is paid off.

A purchase-money mortgage is a nontraditional financing method that may be needed when the buyer cannot obtain one of the other different mortgage types for purchasing the property.

The promise to pay is secured by the property, so if the buyer stops paying, the seller can foreclose and get the property back.

Recommended: How to Buy a Foreclosed Home the Simple Way

Purchase-Money Mortgage Example

Not all buyers have financial situations that make it easy for them to get a conventional mortgage. Even shopping for a mortgage may not help them get the loan they need.

If a buyer has a profitable business, for example, but doesn’t have two years of tax returns to prove steady cash flow, most mortgage lenders won’t take on the risk.

Enter a purchase-money mortgage. With the right property, seller, and situation, a buyer could finance the home with a purchase-money mortgage. The seller would offer terms to the buyer — usually a higher interest rate and a short repayment term, with a balloon mortgage payment at the end — and the buyer would enter into the agreement. The seller would hold title until the loan payoff.

Buyers and sellers who work with seller financing often intend for the purchase-money mortgage to be refinanced into a traditional mortgage with a lower mortgage payment at a later date.

Types of Purchase-Money Mortgages

Purchase-money mortgages can come in several forms.

Land Contract

A land contract (also called a contract for deed) is simply a mortgage from the seller. The buyer takes possession of the property immediately and pays the seller in installments.

Land contracts are often for five years or less, ending with a balloon payment.

Lease-Purchase Agreement

In a lease-purchase agreement, the buyer agrees to rent the property for a specified amount of time and then enter into a contract to purchase the property at a price that’s the current market value or a bit higher.

For this and a lease-option, the seller typically requires a substantial upfront fee, an above-market lease rate, or both. Part of the monthly rent payment goes toward the purchase price.

Lease-Option Agreement

A lease-option agreement is similar to a lease-purchase agreement in that the buyer agrees to first rent the property for a specified amount of time. But with this agreement, the buyer has the option to purchase the property instead of a commitment to.

Benefits of Purchase-Money Mortgages for Buyers

•   Buyers, including first-time homebuyers, may be able to obtain housing sooner than if they were to wait to qualify for a traditional mortgage through a lender.

•   The down payment may be more flexible for a purchase-money mortgage.

•   Requirements may be more flexible.

•   No or low closing costs.

Benefits of Purchase-Money Mortgages for Sellers

•   The seller may be able to get the full list price from a buyer who needs the seller’s help to obtain a mortgage.

•   The seller may be able to make some money by acting as the lender, including asking for a down payment and a higher interest rate.

•   Taxes may be lower as the amount is financed over time.

Recommended: How to Navigate the Mortgage Pre-approval Process

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Seller Financing

If you have the option of financing with a purchase-money mortgage, you will want to look at all the angles. It may also be useful to use this mortgage calculator tool to help you determine what a potential payment on a purchase-money mortgage might be.



Buyer may be able to obtain the home with a purchase-money mortgage when other types of financing would be denied Buyer will not have full title until the total amount borrowed is paid off
Flexible financing allows the seller to help the buyer purchase the property Buyer may have little negotiating power when forging the deal
Increased equity may allow buyer to refinance into a traditional mortgage at the end of the purchase-money loan term Seller is able to determine the rate, term, and down payment
Seller can foreclose if the buyer does not meet contractual obligations

The Takeaway

If you’re able to secure financing from a seller, a purchase-money mortgage may be a good fit — if you have an exit plan in a few years. It’s smart for both buyers and sellers to know the risks and rewards of a purchase-money mortgage.

If you need a mortgage or refinance partner, give SoFi a look. SoFi has competitive rates and flexible terms to help people find the right mortgage and close on time.

Qualifying first-time buyers may put just 3% down.

Check out the advantages, and then your rate.


Who holds the title in a purchase-money mortgage?

The seller controls the legal title; the buyer gains equitable title by making payments.

Can a bank issue a purchase-money mortgage?

Yes. A buyer might pay for a house with a bank mortgage, cash, and a property seller mortgage. When the bank is aware of the amount financed by the seller, both the mortgage issued by the third-party lender and the seller financing are considered purchase-money mortgages.

Does a purchase-money mortgage require an appraisal?

Not if the seller does not require one. With owner financing, the seller sets the terms, which may not include an appraisal.

Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub

SoFi Mortgages
Terms and conditions apply. Not all products are offered in all states. See for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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What Is a Blanket Mortgage and How Does It Work?

What Is a Blanket Mortgage and How Does It Work?

A blanket mortgage is a special type of real estate financing that can be helpful when someone wants to buy multiple properties at once. Developers, investors, and house flippers may find blanket loans beneficial.

Here’s more about how they work and their pros and cons.

What Is a Blanket Mortgage?

A blanket loan is a single mortgage loan that uses more than one piece of residential or commercial real estate as collateral.

The borrower can sell one of the properties while keeping the rest under the loan. Then the mortgagor can sell a second property, a third one, and so forth while still keeping the financing intact for the loan’s entire term.

You may be able to negotiate a blanket mortgage that lets you buy, sell, or substitute properties with minimal angst.

Recommended: Investment Property Guide: How to Get Started Investing in Real Estate

How Does a Blanket Mortgage Work?

A developer, for example, may find a large lot to subdivide into smaller ones, creating a new housing subdivision, under a blanket loan financing structure.

As general contractors or families buy the individual lot or lots they want to build on, those lots could be released from the developer’s blanket mortgage, with unsold lots remaining under the blanket loan.

As another example, someone who buys fixer-uppers, renovates them, and sells them for a profit may buy several properties of interest and finance them with a blanket mortgage. Each property that is refurbished and sold can be released from the blanket mortgage loan.

If a blanket mortgage comes with a release clause, the proceeds from a property the borrower sells can be used to buy another property.

Lenders can create their own terms, so it’s important to be clear about a loan’s parameters. They will want to know about each of the properties involved, their intended use, where they’re located, and their condition. If a housing development is being planned, the lender will want proof of the borrower’s experience.

Recommended: How to Buy a Multifamily Property With No Money Down

Pros and Cons of a Blanket Mortgage

Each of the different types of mortgages comes with pros and cons. That’s true of a blanket mortgage, too.



The borrower needs to close on just one loan, which can save them money on closing costs. Lenders will require anywhere from 25% to 50% down.
Only one credit approval is involved, and fewer monthly payments need to be made. The borrower may need to have significant assets and excellent credit to qualify.
Developers, investors, and the like can expand their portfolios in ways that can circumvent any limit on the number of mortgages that one borrower can take out. If the blanket mortgage is set up as a balloon loan, a large amount may be owed when the term ends.
The interest rate may be more attractive than separate loan rates, which can lead to lower monthly payments (and contribute to better cash flow). If the borrower defaults on one property, the lender may attempt to foreclose on all properties covered by the mortgage.
If the loan is set up with a balloon structure, payments may be low during a predetermined time frame, perhaps interest only.

Recommended: SoFi’s Mortgage Help Center: Resources for Home Buyers and Real Estate Investors

Should You Consider a Blanket Mortgage?

Possibly. If you’re qualified and you want to buy multiple properties with one mortgage, selling them and releasing them from the loan as they are individually sold, then a blanket loan may make sense.

Blanket mortgages can be elusive. If a blanket loan seems like a good choice, you can inquire about one with banks that offer commercial loans or talk to a mortgage broker.

Any lender or broker you contact should be able to answer your mortgage questions.

The Takeaway

Blanket mortgages are a specialty type of loan used by developers, real estate investors, and house flippers when they want to put multiple properties under a single loan. Blanket loans have pros and cons. Qualifying for one isn’t for the faint of heart.

If you’re looking for a more typical mortgage for your home, second home, or investment property, you can explore mortgages and perks from SoFi. A blanket statement: SoFi wants to help borrowers every step of the way.

Start with a quick rate quote.


What is an example of a blanket mortgage?

If someone wants to buy fixer-upper homes to rehab and resell, they may use a blanket loan to purchase several of them at once. As a home gets refurbished and sold, that property is released from the blanket loan while the other properties are still funded.

Is it hard to get a blanket mortgage?

Lenders will typically want a borrower to have sizable assets and excellent credit, and the down payment can range from 25% to 50%. So blanket loans are limited to more established borrowers with solid financials.

Who would most likely obtain a blanket mortgage?

Businesses may apply for a blanket loan to buy commercial property. Landlords, both commercial and residential, may also benefit from this type of loan. So can construction companies and people who flip homes.

Is a blanket loan a good idea?

Under certain circumstances, a blanket loan can be a useful form of financing. When purchasing multiple properties with one loan, just one approval is needed. Closing costs may be lower. Interest rates and payments may be more attractive, too. That said, requirements to qualify for this type of loan can be significant, with down payments ranging from 25% to 50%.

Photo credit: iStock/oatawa

SoFi Mortgages
Terms and conditions apply. Not all products are offered in all states. See for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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bicycle in front of home

How Long Does It Take to Close on a House?

Once you’ve found a home to buy, it’s natural to want to close the deal quickly. As of mid-2022, the average closing time was 48 days after acceptance of an offer, down slightly from 51 the year before.

All-online mortgage options make lending faster, and borrowers are enthusiastic about an online mortgage process, ICE Mortgage Technology has found. Most home sales can be buttoned up in 20 to 30 days. Still, delays can happen.

Here’s what you need to know in order to belly up to the remote or real closing table.

How Long Does Closing on a House Take?

If you’re paying cash for a house, you’ll typically be able to close quickly.

But let’s assume a mortgage will be part of the process. You’ve jumped through the initial hoops of the mortgage loan process, including making an offer on a home you like.

If accepted, you’ll provide an earnest money deposit and sign a purchase contract. The price and any contingencies — conditions that must be met for the deal to proceed — are included in the purchase agreement.

This begins the due diligence period. It includes a title search to verify ownership and look for any liens that need to be paid off to ensure clear title to the new home. Most but not all issues will be reflected in a preliminary title report.

A typical contingency period is 30 to 60 days, though something like the inspection could be required within 10 days or less. Buyers can ask for extensions in writing.

Here are four common contingencies:

Financing Contingency

The mortgage contingency nullifies the deal if you can’t procure a mortgage within a certain time. The contingency language may be specific about the type of loan, down payment, and interest rate.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is standard, but it’s not a guarantee. After your chosen home is under contract, your mortgage still has to go through underwriting.

Recommended: How Does the Mortgage Pre-Approval Process Work?

Home Sale Contingency

You need to sell your current house to complete the purchase. You’ll typically be given 30 to 60 days to do so. In a competitive market, many sellers won’t even consider the offer with a home sale contingency.

But some sellers may employ a kick-out clause, which allows them to keep showing their home and “kick out” the contingent buyers if the sellers receive an offer without a home sale contingency.

Appraisal Contingency

An appraisal is usually required when a home is being financed. If the property valuation is less than your offer, you may walk away from the deal. You could also cough up the difference or ask the sellers to lower the price.

How long after the appraisal to close? About two weeks.

By the way, you can put an offer on a house that’s contingent.

Home Inspection Contingency

A home inspection is generally not mandatory for any loan type but will help ensure that the home is free of issues that may result in expensive repairs. In a seller’s market, many properties are sold as is, meaning sellers won’t negotiate for repairs after the inspection.

In a buyer’s market, sellers might agree to pay for some repairs and also slightly reduce the home’s price.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.

How a Mortgage Closing Works

You’ve qualified for a mortgage and chosen a lender.

After you’ve supplied income, asset, and other documentation, all of the contingencies have been satisfied, and your mortgage has received final approval from underwriting, it’s time to prepare for closing.

This will be the big day, when signing the closing documents legally transfers ownership from the sellers.

Sign Documents

Three days before your closing date, your lender will provide you with a closing disclosure that outlines the final closing costs and terms of your home loan. You can compare this five-page form with the loan estimate you received after applying for the mortgage.

Paperwork (lots of it) will have been prepared for you, including the deed of trust or mortgage and the settlement statement.

In some cases, everyone gathers in one place to sign closing paperwork. Other times, buyers sign separately from sellers. And more and more states are allowing remote online notarization or a hybrid.

Pay Closing Costs

The lender will usually tell you the amount needed for closing several days before the event. A wire transfer may be arranged a day or two before closing. Or you can present a cashier’s check or certified check that day.

Cash to close includes closing costs (unless you opted for a no closing cost mortgage) and your down payment minus your earnest money deposit and any seller credits.

Transfer the Home Title

After signing a mountain of documents, the closing attorney, escrow officer, or title company representative will record the house deed, and you will be given the house keys.

Recommended: First-Time Home Buying Guide

The House Closing Process, Step By Step

Here are the basics.

1.    Seller signs the purchase agreement.

2.    Buyer may order a home inspection.

3.    Buyer applies for the mortgage (and considers asking to lock in the rate).

4.    Lender orders a home appraisal and conducts credit underwriting.

5.    Mortgage is approved.

6.    Buyer provides proof of homeowners and title insurance.

7.    Buyer receives the closing disclosure; notice of closing time, date and location; and what to present at closing, like a photo ID and cashier’s check or proof of wire transfer for cash to close.

8.    Buyer takes a final walk-through, verifying that sellers have made any required repairs and that nothing in the purchase agreement was removed. The buyer can check for leaks, turn on heating and air conditioning, and so forth.

What Causes Delays When Closing on a House?

A buyer and seller agree to a target closing date in the purchase contract, but the closing doesn’t always happen on or before that date.

Financing, appraisal, inspection, and other issues can delay a closing. Here’s a taste of what may cause a postponement:

Lender wants more documentation. Even if buyers were pre-approved, received their mortgage commitment, and were cleared to close, lenders will review credit and bank statements one last time within a few days of closing. Any abnormalities can delay the closing.

The mortgage is denied. Even after pre-approval, a home loan may be denied for lots of reasons, sending buyers back to the starting block.

Interest rates surge unexpectedly. This can affect qualification if the loan is not locked.

The appraisal comes in low. A home may appraise for less than the purchase offer. Buyers can request a second appraisal, ask the sellers to renegotiate the price, put more down, pay the difference, or walk away if they have an appraisal contingency.

The inspection reveals that major repairs are needed. If it’s an as-is sale, buyers can walk away if they had an inspection contingency in the contract. They could still try asking the sellers to make certain repairs, request a decrease in the sale price based on the cost of repairs, or ask for a home warranty.

The title is not clear. A contractor’s lien, for example, can cause a closing delay if the contractor can’t be found to settle it.

Buyers can’t sell their house in time. If sellers agreed to a home sale contingency, the clock is ticking. If the buyers’ home doesn’t sell in time, the deal could fall through.

Instrument survey issues. Boundary line encroachments or disputes can hang up a closing.

Unrealistic closing date. Any complication can cause a deadline to fail. An extension must be approved by each party.

The Takeaway: Closing Day Preparation Pays Off

How long does it take to close on a house? The average closing takes place 48 days from the time an offer is accepted, but the timeline varies. Getting to the closing table, in person or remotely, is an accomplishment. It means you qualified and persevered.

If you’re shopping for a mortgage, it pays to get pre-qualified and pre-approved.

SoFi offers low fixed rate mortgages and low down payments. If you’re in the market for a primary home, investment property, conforming loan, jumbo loan, refinance, or home equity loan, see what SoFi can do for you.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms and conditions apply. Not all products are offered in all states. See for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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realtor with home buyers

How Long It Takes to Buy a House: Purchase Timeline

Not counting the reams of time you probably will spend ogling homes and yard-shaming virtually and IRL, it could take as little as a month to make an offer on a house and close if you’re financing the purchase.

Here’s the scoop on how long it takes to buy a house and get the keys in your hand.

How Long Does It Take to Buy a House In 2022?

Once you’ve homed in on a home you love, the mortgage process — from application to closing — may take an average of 30 to 60 days.

So yes, a life-changing event can happen within a month or two.

But closing times vary. A cash buyer might be able to close on a house within days. An applicant with an iffy credit history and income may need 90 days or longer.

Before You Start Looking for Your Next Home

It’s a good idea to get your head in the game before the hunt begins.

Organize Your Finances

If you’re asking yourself “How much of a mortgage can I afford?” you can get an estimate easily.

A home affordability calculator will give you a feel for a home price limit and monthly payments. Getting pre-qualified will also give you a quick ballpark estimate.

Getting a down payment together to buy a house in many parts of the country isn’t as hard as many people think. The average down payment on a house is less than 20% (though putting less than 20% down on a conventional loan usually triggers mortgage insurance).

Conventional loans may call for just 3% down; FHA loans, as little as 3.5% down; and VA and USDA loans, nothing down. (With government loans, mortgage insurance or fees come along for the ride.)

Low- and moderate-income borrowers can sometimes get down payment assistance through a state or local agency.

Figure Out Where You Want to Live

You might know exactly what neighborhood, school zone, and vibe you want. Then your search can zero in on that area.

But looking at the cost of living by state can be eye-opening.

And narrowing things down, you might want to check out market trends by city and neighborhood.

Gain home-buying insights
with the latest housing
market trends.

Determine Your Must-Haves

Do you want to buy a house that has been completely updated, or will a dowdy abode or fixer-upper do? The cost of any renovations or repairs must be factored in, of course, and may be funded with a home improvement loan.

If only new construction will do, that can mean a tract home, spec home, or custom home.

What size range can you live with? Maybe you need more space, or maybe you’re financially downsizing.

Is a low-maintenance condo or townhouse more your style, or do you need a single-family home with room for a swimming pool or garden?

Five Steps to Buy a House

Ready? This timeline assumes you’re about to start seriously shopping for a house.

Step 1: Get Mortgage Pre-approval (Minutes to Days)

Unlike pre-qualification, mortgage pre-approval means one or more lenders have vetted your finances, usually with a hard credit inquiry. Once your offer on a home is accepted, if your chosen lender is one of these, it has a big head start on your final approval.

An online application might take about 20 minutes to complete if you have all of the documentation in hand, including two years of W-2s and/or 1099s, two years of tax returns, recent pay stubs, a list of fixed debts, and two months’ worth of account statements.

Lenders will look at your credit scores and credit history.

They will look at income, debts (including student loans), assets, proof of employment, rental history, divorce, bankruptcy, and gift funds for a down payment.

Depending on the lender, pre-approval could be nearly instantaneous or it could take days.

If you’re shopping for a mortgage, know that multiple credit inquiries by lenders are counted as a single inquiry for 14 days and sometimes more.

What Is a Pre-approval Letter?

A pre-approval letter from a lender states that you’ve been tentatively approved to borrow up to a specific amount. It lets sellers know that you are likely to be able to get financing. The letter will have an expiration date of 30 to 90 days.

What Is a Verified Approval Letter?

This is the term used by some lenders for a pre-approval letter, to make clear the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval. A hard credit inquiry will have been performed, and an underwriter will have examined your pre-approval application and additional documents.

Step 2: Make an Offer on a House (a Day to a Few Days)

Once you find a house you want to call your own, it might take up to five days to make an offer and come to an agreement with the seller on price and contingencies. A closing date will be in the purchase agreement.

Usually when you make an offer, you will provide an earnest money deposit to the escrow company.

Step 3: Secure the Mortgage (30 to 60 Days on Average)

Now you can make a full mortgage application with as many lenders as you wish, and not just lenders that pre-approved you.

It’s smart to look at more than rates — one of the different types of mortgage loans might be a better fit than the others.

You’ll need to choose a mortgage term as well. Thirty years is the most common.

Once you apply, you will receive official loan estimates, allowing you to compare mortgage APRs and more. Choose a lender. Check at the top of Page 1 of the loan estimate to see whether your rate is locked, and until when.

Step 4: Prepare for Closing

Appraisal and Title Search

Your lender will order an appraisal of the home. A property valuation that comes back lower than the purchase price could hinder loan approval.

The appraisal may be performed from 14 to 45 days before closing.

A title search of the property also will be ordered, resulting in a preliminary title report.


This is mostly a waiting period for the buyer. Credit reports are ordered, and the application information is verified.

Mortgage underwriting focuses on the three C’s:

•   Capacity (will your income and debt load allow you to make the mortgage payments each month?)

•   Credit

•   Collateral (did the appraisal show that the home price and value are aligned?)

Your mortgage loan officer may come back to you with questions. Once you receive final loan approval, a mortgage contingency can be lifted.

Home Inspection

A home inspection is optional but widely recommended.

Closing Disclosure and Cash to Close

Your lender is required to send you a closing disclosure at least three business days before the closing. It should match your loan estimate or come close.

You’ll need to send a wire transfer for cash to close one to two business days before closing. The closing disclosure will tell you how much money you need to wire.

Cash to close is closing costs (unless you chose a no closing cost mortgage) plus your down payment minus your earnest money deposit and any seller credits.

An option: Prepare to take a certified check or cashier’s check to the closing table.

Final Walk-Through

Your real estate agent will schedule a final walk-through within 24 hours of closing. This is a chance to be sure the home is in the condition you agreed to under the purchase terms.

Step 5: Close on Your Loan (an Hour or Two)

The lender will send your closing documents to the closing attorney or title company.

You’ll sign a river of documents in person or remotely.

The deed will be recorded with the appropriate county to transfer title to the new owner, you. Then you’ll receive the house keys.

The Takeaway

How long does it take to buy a house? It could take about 30 to 60 days from the time your offer is accepted. That’s a quick close on a new beginning.

Are you ready to buy a house? Time is of the essence. First look into the fixed-rate mortgages SoFi offers with low down payments. Then get a rate quote.

SoFi Mortgages
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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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