How Long Does It Take to Close on a House?

Closing on a house is like the final act in a play with a happy ending. After months of shopping, negotiating and financial plot twists comes the resolution: You sign the final mortgage papers, get the keys to the house and officially become the new owner.

Signing the paperwork on closing day takes about an hour or two, but the process to get there is much longer. From the time your offer is accepted and loan processing begins, closing on a house takes roughly 30 to 60 days.

Average time to close on a house

The average time to close on a purchase mortgage in March and April was 42 days, according to ICE Mortgage Technology, a mortgage data provider.

It takes at least several weeks to close because a lot of work happens between the time the purchase offer is accepted and the closing date, including:

  • Home inspections. These may include an overall home evaluation and specialized inspections, such as radon testing and pest, mold and foundation inspections. 

  • Home appraisal. The lender orders a home appraisal to help gauge the risk of making the loan, given that the home serves as collateral. 

  • Title search and purchase of title insurance. The title search confirms that the property is free of any ownership claims and outstanding liens, and title insurance protects the new owner or lender (depending on the type of policy) in case the title search misses something and a claim is made.

  • Final mortgage underwriting. Mortgage underwriting analyzes your borrowing risk. The mortgage lender will review your finances, including your credit, employment history, debt-to-income ratio, assets and down payment, and make a final decision on whether to approve your mortgage application.

  • Home insurance coverage purchase. The lender will require that you have home insurance coverage to start on the closing date.

  • Utilities setup. You’ll need to get utilities set up with service in your name to begin on the closing date.

  • Final walk-through. You’ll walk through the property with your real estate agent to make sure everything is as it should be.

How to avoid delays

Here are some tips to avoid delays:

Keep your job. Changing jobs during underwriting will complicate and possibly delay the process. Call your lender right away if your employment will change.

Maintain good credit and a good debt-to-income ratio. Keep your debt-to-income ratio in mind. The lender will recheck your credit at any point before the mortgage closes, so avoid applying for new credit, missing payments or charging a lot on your credit cards. Keep your credit accounts open because closing an account will reduce your available credit and increase your credit utilization, which can hurt your credit score.

Provide information quickly. Respond right away if the lender asks for additional information.

What to expect at closing

The seller will sign documents ahead of time transferring ownership to you, or may sign them at the closing. Your real estate agent or real estate attorney may also be there.

You’ll pay the down payment and any closing costs due, and then sign a mountain of documents, including the mortgage and promissory note or deed of trust, closing disclosure, settlement statement and, if it’s a new home, a certificate of occupancy.

Signing the documents will take an hour or more, so make sure you carve out enough time on your calendar.