What’s the Time Required to Buy a Townhouse?
23 Aug 2023
The time required for buying a townhouse can vary, but for many buyers, purchasing a townhouse represents an attainable entry point into home ownership.
On average, the process of searching for a home usually spans about 4 ½ months. After you've entered into an agreement, the finalization of the home purchase, known as closing, typically takes an extra 30-45 days.
However, it's important to note that this schedule can differ significantly due to variables such as the season, your financial requirements, the specific type of home you're seeking, and the available properties in your nearby area.
The length of the process comes as a surprise to many first-time townhouse buyers. Unlike leasing an apartment which may take just weeks, buying a townhouse involves numerous steps including obtaining financing, home inspections, appraisals, plus the inherently lengthy closing and underwriting procedures.
Furthermore, finding the right townhouse can take weeks or months of viewing listings before getting your offer accepted in competitive markets. Patience and persistence are key.
To set proper expectations around the timeline before starting your townhouse purchase process, here is a detailed breakdown of the timeline and what to expect at each step along the way, from start to finish.
Understanding the full townhouse buying process will help you set realistic expectations, budget accordingly, and avoid surprises down the road.
Timeline for Townhouse Buyers: What's the Time Required for Buying a Townhouse?
Finding a Real Estate Agent (2-3 weeks)
Research local real estate agents that specialize in townhouses. Look for online reviews and ask friends for referrals. Interview at least 3 agents before deciding. Ask about their experience, typical clientele, neighborhoods they work in, and marketing strategy. Ensure they have strong townhouse experience.
Consider a buyer's agent who will represent your interests. Review a potential agent's listings to see if they have many current townhouse offerings. Sign an agreement with your chosen agent to officially start the relationship. Discuss preferred communication styles and availability expectations.
Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage (1-2 weeks)
Research local mortgage lenders and types of loans ideal for townhouses, such as FHA loans. Compare interest rates and closing costs. Submit financial documentation for pre-approval including tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, existing debt, and down payment funds.
Ideally get pre-approved for a loan amount that exceeds your budget. This strengthens offers later. Discuss special townhouse considerations with lender, like HOA fees and shared walls. Ensure you obtain a loan suited for a townhouse purchase.
Making a Townhouse Wish List (1 week)
Drive around preferred neighborhoods with your agent to get familiar with locations and amenities. Make a list of your absolute must-haves, like proximity to transportation, amenities, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, outdoor space, etc.
Distinguish between needs and nice-to-haves so you can compare trade-offs. Remain flexible. Discuss lifestyle factors with your agent so they understand your wish list priorities when selecting listings.
Viewing Townhouse Listings (3-8 weeks)
The time required for buying a townhouse can be shortened by taking proactive steps like these: Sign up for alerts from your agent on new townhouse listings that match your criteria.
Act fast to view new on-market listings. Attend open houses in person each weekend. Narrow down top options based on in-person visits. Schedule showings through your agent for your favorite townhouse contenders.
Take notes at each one. With your agent, evaluate resale value, amenities, floor plans, and inspect condition thoroughly at all showings. Be prepared to act quickly with a strong offer if your dream townhouse comes up. It's advisable to prepare for a scenario where multiple buyers want the townhouse.
Making an Offer and Negotiating (3-10 days)
Determine offer price by comparing similar sold townhouses. Your agent can advise you on competitive pricing. Submit offer along with pre-approval letter, earnest money deposit, and any requests about fixtures, appliances, or repairs.
Negotiate any counteroffers and be ready to modify terms or price to secure the townhouse. Act quickly if faced with competing offers. Once an offer is accepted, complete next steps like inspections as agreed in the purchase agreement.
Completing Inspections (1-3 weeks)
Hire professionals to complete a home inspection, pest inspection, HOA document review, and any other agreed inspections. Negotiate credits or repairs with the seller based on issues found.
Your agent will handle these negotiations. Conduct a thorough final walk through before closing to ensure repairs were made and conditions unchanged.
Obtaining Financing and Appraisal (4-6 weeks)
The lender will order a third-party appraisal. Note that the appraisal may come in lower than the agreed sales price. Cooperate fully as your lender completes the underwriting process. Provide any additional documents requested.
Get updated loan estimates and your closing disclosure form when underwriting is complete. If the appraisal is low, be prepared to renegotiate the price or bring extra funds to closing to cover gaps.
Closing on the Townhouse (2-3 weeks)
Finalize your closing date once all contingencies are removed from the purchase agreement. Complete a final walkthrough 1-2 days before the closing date. Ensure repairs were made and all is in order.
Review documents with your real estate attorney. Sign all closing paperwork. Provide certified down payment funds and closing costs. Receive your keys and become an official townhouse owner!
How to avoid delays when you buy a house
The excitement of buying a new home can quickly turn to anxiety when closing day gets pushed back. While some delays are inevitable, there are steps buyers can take to help keep the home buying process on schedule.
Get Organized Early
As soon as your offer is accepted, create a closing checklist and timeline. Compile needed documents like bank statements, tax returns, and proof of funds. Stay organized and respond quickly to lender requests.
Keep Finances Unchanged
Don't apply for new credit or make major purchases while your loan is being processed. Stick to your normal spending. Sudden debts or assets could require more documentation and delay approval.
Stay on Top of Inspections
Schedule inspections immediately and follow up frequently on any repairs needed. Don't leave fixes until the last minute. Have your agent request continual progress updates.
Closely scrutinize the accuracy of all paperwork, especially loan documents. Even small mistakes can mean delays to redraw contracts. Do a final review days before closing.
Set Realistic Dates
Work with your agent to set a closing timeframe that makes sense. Very fast closings under 30 days are hard to guarantee. Build in a buffer in case issues pop up.
Although the time required for buying a townhouse can feel lengthy, the rewards of townhouse ownership make the process worthwhile. Following the recommended timeline, being prepared at each step, and working closely with your agent and lender will get you to closing day smoothly. Soon enough, you'll receive the keys to your new townhouse and can begin making it your own.
Enjoy settling into your new maintenance-free community with the satisfaction of achieving your goal of home ownership. Your townhouse search, paperwork marathons, and closing day will all be a distant memory as you look forward to making new memories in your new home. Best of luck as you embark on the journey to townhouse ownership!
How fast can you move into a house after you buy it?
The typical timeline for completing all the steps involved in moving into a new place is 6-10 weeks. It's possible to finish in as little as 2 weeks if everything goes smoothly and quickly. However, delays are common and it can take up to 2 months or longer in some cases. Expect the process to take around 1-2 months on average.
What do you get from owning a town?
The process of buying a home typically starts with checking your credit score to ensure you qualify for a mortgage and determining your budget. Next, you'll want to choose a lender and get preapproved for a loan amount. Hire a real estate agent to assist in the home search process as they can help you find listings in your price range.
Once you've found the perfect home, make an offer contingent on a professional home inspection and appraisal. Finally, secure homeowners insurance to protect your new property. Taking these key steps will help ensure a smooth home buying process.