If you’re buying a home, you’re likely wondering, “How many days or weeks will the entire closing process take?”
How Long Does The Closing Process Take On A House?
The closing process on a house usually takes between 30 to 60 days, starting from the day your offer is accepted until you receive the keys. This period can be broadly divided into 7 steps: offer acceptance, home inspection (5 days), appraisal period (14-21 days), loan application and underwriting (30-45 days), title company timeline (10-30 days), pre-closing period (7-10 days), and finally, the closing appointment itself which typically lasts for about 1 to 2 hours.
Sometimes it’s quicker with an all-cash offer, sometimes slower if repairs or financing issues arise.
I want to provide a detailed breakdown of what happens in each stage of the closing process when purchasing a home. This way, you know what to realistically expect at each step timeline-wise, and there are no surprises when you’re finally ready to close!
Steps of Closing Process in Order
1. Offer Acceptance Starts the Clock
Once your offer is submitted and officially accepted by the seller, the closing process countdown officially begins! The first deadline in your purchase contract is usually the inspection period.
2. Home Inspection Period: 5 Business Days (unless an extension is granted)
After an offer is accepted, you typically have 5 business days to complete the home inspection process as a buyer.
- Researching and choosing a licensed home inspector. I recommend asking your real estate agent for inspector recommendations.
- Scheduling the inspection, which usually takes 1-2 days from the time of booking. Allow at least 2-4 hours for the inspector to evaluate the house entirely.
- Receiving the complete inspection report within 1-2 days after the inspection is performed. Thoroughly review the findings.
- Drafting requests for any repairs based on inspection issues found. You generally have to submit this request shortly after receiving the report, unless you negotiate for an extension of the inspection period beyond the standard 5 business days.
- Negotiating credits or repairs with the seller to address functional or safety issues found. Repair negotiations typically take 1-5 days depending on the nature of the requests and the level of alignment between buyer and seller.
- Scheduling contractors or vendors to complete any agreed-upon repairs. Timing depends on contractor availability.
As you can see, the inspection phase can span 5 business days or longer, from accepted offer until completing negotiations. This critical step identifies existing property conditions and protects the buyer.
3. Appraisal Period: 14-21 Days
The next step in the closing process is the appraisal. Here’s what to expect at this stage:
- The buyer’s lender orders the appraisal about 1 week after the inspection phase concludes.
- It takes 2-3 days to schedule the appraiser’s site visit. The appraiser will inspect the home and lot.
- 5-7 days for the appraiser to complete their valuation report, including comparable property analysis.
- 1 week for the lender to thoroughly review the appraisal report once submitted and follow up on any concerns.
- Further delays if repairs impact home value or if the appraisal comes in under contract price. (More on that next!)
- So in total – plan on 2-3 weeks from appraisal ordering until the lender approves a final report.
What if the Appraisal is Low?
If the appraisal value is lower than the contracted purchase price, additional time may be needed to re-negotiate the price or appeal the appraisal.
Low appraisals happen occasionally and can take 1-2 weeks to resolve before moving forward.
4. Loan Application and Underwriting: 30-45 Days
For buyers utilizing financing, expect the loan approval process to take 30-45 days minimum.
Here’s what’s involved:
- Completing a full loan application with income/asset documentation, if not done prior. Having a pre-approval really saves time here!
- Processing your application and submitting documents through underwriting.
- Underwriting reviews credit, income sources, assets and appraisal value to approve the loan.
- Further verification or documentation may be requested from you during underwriting. Quickly provide anything requested to avoid delays.
- Once underwriting completes review and conditions met, they issue a clear-to-close, allowing the closing process to proceed.
- Build in extra buffer time, just in case underwriting needs clarification. Delays of 1-2 weeks are possible.
5. Title Company Timeline: 10-30 Days
While the buyer is going through loan approval, the title company is also doing its critical work by researching the property’s title history, and tracking down any liens, judgments or other issues that must be cleared before closing.
Title work is typically fully completed during the loan approval process to be able to “insure” the title so the new owner has full rights to the property.
6. Pre-Closing Period: 7-10 Days
The final 1-2 weeks before closing involves:
- Finalizing the Closing Disclosure with total costs 3 days prior.
- The title company, in coordination with the attorney, prepare closing documents and settlement statements.
- Verifying payoffs, tax prorations, homeowners insurance, and any other lender requirements for closing.
- Completing a final walkthrough to ensure property condition is as expected.
- Confirming closing date/time and all parties’ availability, including agents, attorneys, lender reps, seller, etc.
This last week is a flurry of activity, getting all legal and logistical ducks in a row!
7. The Closing Appointment: 1-2 Hours
Closing day itself is for signing documents, transferring funds, and getting keys!
It typically takes 1-2 hours.
What Are Closing Costs and Who Pays Them?
Closing costs refer to the fees and other expenses associated with Closing on your home. The buyer and the seller each have costs associated with the transaction. These are paid out at closing.
The Complete Closing Timeline
With various steps involved, what is the typical complete closing timeline from seller acceptance of your offer to the closing with you as the new owner?
Here is a recap:
- Offer to inspection: 5 business days
- Inspection to appraisal: 5-21 days (Runs concurrent with loan application)
- Loan approval: 30-45 days (Overlaps with title work)
- Title work: 10-30 days
- Pre-closing: 7-10 days
- Closing: 1 day
The typical complete closing process takes:
- Best case scenario: 30 days
- Typical timeframe: 45-60 days
- With delays: 60-90 days
Where Does the Real Estate Closing Happen?
Closing customarily takes place at the office of the title company. It is becoming more common, however, for parties to perform their responsibilities remotely. Sellers in particular will often sign their documents in their lawyer’s office, or at home with a notary present. Nowadays, it’s getting more common for buyers to sign their documents remotely as well.
At Adler and Herbach, we make every effort to facilitate a location that is most convenient for all the parties involved. Often, the seller and buyer each sign at a location of their choice.
What Do I Need to Bring to the Closing?
A valid ID. If you’re the buyer, closing funds – typically a wire, or, for amounts up to $50,000, a cashier’s check if you prefer. If you’re the seller, the keys to the property. Any documents your signed prior to the Closing should be brought as well.
Do Sellers Need to Attend the Real Estate Closing?
While sellers will have responsibilities in connection with their real estate Closing, they don’t necessarily need to attend the Closing in person.
The seller often pre-signs all the required documents or may even give their lawyer a power of attorney to sign documents on their behalf.
A buyer may also be able to sign documents remotely, though it is more common for a buyer to sign at the office of the title company, especially if there is a loan involved.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to attend the Closing or where to sign the documents is up to the seller and their lawyer.
To Do List, Prior to Closing:
If You’re the Seller:
- Remove all your personal possessions from the property. Large appliances, such as a washer/dryer, refrigerator, or dishwasher, may or may not be included in the sale, so be sure to check with your lawyer or the real estate contract to determine what you should remove the home.
- Complete any repairs that were agreed upon in the contract.
- Leave the home in “broom clean” condition by the Closing date, unless the property is being sold “as is” or some other condition is provided for in the contract.
- Forward your mail and notify utilities, subscription services and creditors that you are moving.
If You’re the Buyer:
- Perform a walkthrough of the property as close as possible to the Closing to make sure the condition is the same as what was agreed to in the contract. Any issues that you may find are MUCH easier to resolve before you close.
- Wire funds to the title company.
The path to a smooth real estate closing can be long and involved. In some situations, it can get complicated. Hiring experienced professionals to assist you with the Closing process is critical to ensuring that your real estate transaction goes smoothly. At Adler & Herbach, we pride ourselves on advocating for our clients and facilitating amicable Closings. Contact us to learn more.
While many steps are involved in the purchase process, the title work concurrent with loan approval condenses the total timeline.
You can expect 30-60 days from offer to closing in most Chicago real estate transactions, with 30 days being the fastest and 60-90 days being the maximum if delays occur.
Let me know if you have any other questions!