First-time Homebuyer 101: Process Timeline

First-time Homebuyer 101: Process Timeline

For first-time homebuyers, the purchase process starts years before you get the keys.

Here are the 3 key phases in a successful homebuyers’ journey (with typical timeframes):

  • ☝️ Mortgage preparation (6 months to 6+ years)
  • ✌️ House hunt (3 to 6 months)
  • 🤟 Offer and close (4 to 8 weeks)

☝️ Mortgage preparation – start 6 months to 6+ years before you want to buy.

Mortgage preparation is the most important and overlooked step in the process. Before you ever talk to a mortgage lender or real estate agent, you’ll need to build your Homebuying Power. Here are some handy targets (not requirements) to shoot for:

  • 💰 Down payment + closing costs (target = 5%+ of home price)
  • 📈 Mortgage credit score (target = 620+)
  • ⚖️ Stable income (target = 2+ years)
  • 📉 Manageable debt (target = <10% of income)
  • 😀 Future plans (target = stay in new home for 5+ years)
Not sure if you are mortgage-ready? Track and build your Homebuying Power with Gravy!

✌️ House hunt – start 3 to 6 months before you want to move.

Once you are “mortgage-ready” it is time to start house hunting. The first step is to shop mortgage lenders and obtain a pre-approval to confirm your budget. Next, interview real estate agents and start exploring homes in your target area and price range.

Need help finding a lender and agent? Get in touch with the best right from the Gravy app! Plus, our partners exclusively redeem Gravy Rewards to save you thousands.

🤟 Offer and close – budget 4 to 8 weeks before you get the keys.

You’ve found the one – now, submit an offer. With a pre-approval in hand, your offer is much more likely to be accepted. Once it is, your realtor and lender will quarterback this entire process:

  • ✅ Sign purchase agreement
  • ✅ Deposit earnest money
  • ✅ Begin mortgage underwriting
  • ✅ Get the house inspected
  • ✅ Have the home appraised
  • ✅ Review the title
  • ✅ Shop for homeowners insurance
  • ✅ Plan for utility transfer
  • ✅ Schedule any home repairs
  • ✅ Receive final mortgage approval
  • 🤑 Redeem Gravy Rewards
  • ✅ Complete final walkthrough
  • ✅ Sign paperwork and transfer funds
  • 🎉 Close

Is your head spinning? Let us help! Buying a house can feel complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. Gravy is the one-stop-app for every phase of the homebuyer journey – prepare, shop, close. No matter where you are along the way, Gravy is here to help you save smarter so you can buy with confidence.

Get started today! Meet your (free) digital homebuyer concierge in the app store.

❤️ At Gravy, our mission is to make homeownership more accessible for all. We are passionate about the American dream of homeownership and would love to help you achieve yours.

Check out our other first-time homebuyer guides:

Will Dunn
Will Dunn
Gravy Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer
Author profileLinkedIn