How long does it take to buy a home in Silicon Valley?

How long does it take to buy a home - calendar with target, house, moving truck, keys, bubblyHow long does it take to buy a home in Silicon Valley?  There are really three questions within that one:

  • how much time will be required before you’re ready to choose a home to purchase (or how many homes will you need to see)
  • how many offers will you have to write
  • and finally, how much time is involved in getting the transaction closed

We are presuming that our readers know that a pre-approval, not a pre-qualification, is absolutely necessary. Being pre-underwritten is better still. The lender decision needs to be made early on, before house hunting.

The short answer: if you are pre-approved, have cash in the bank, are decisive, are on the same page (if buying with someone else), and committed, you could go from getting the pre-approval letter to owning a home in 6 weeks – if everything lines up perfectly. For most people, it’s 2- 4 months.

What could go wrong? What could slow things down? Please read on!

How long does it take to buy a home in Silicon Valley: first step, selecting a home to bid on

Often our clients need to see 10 homes, sometimes a little more, in person before they feel like they know the market and the choices well enough to select a home they want to write an offer on.  This is after a highly refined search, usually, with a lot of info provided upfront and online. Many properties are eliminated before we ever see them.

How long does it take? Depending on how broad of an area they’re considering, and how much of a hurry they’re in, this varies, but normally is 4 – 6 weeks for most of our home buyer clients. Some are faster, some slower.

Clients relocating to the San Jose area often want to settle in.  If they’ve owned homes before, they may have a perfect idea of what will and won’t work for them.  Once I sold a Los Gatos house to a couple before the wife ever saw the property!  They moved every couple of years, the husband knew his wife’s requirements perfectly and they had no trouble being expedient.

If clients look for 3 or 4 months and never even write an offer, they are either not serious, not realistic, or if there are two buyers, they aren’t in agreement with each other. We see this too often.
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Congratulations, your home is “sale pending”! What happens next?

Congratulations your home is sale pendingIf you have had your San Jose or Los Gatos home on the market and just gotten it under contract, or sale pending, you may be very excited and happy.  Perhaps you’re a little worried too.  What should you expect now that you’ve got a ratified offer?

Each purchase agreement is a little different from every other one, so this article cannot give you an exact road map.  But let’s look at the big picture and touch on what normally happens to give you an overview.  We’ll do this in a simple list – which is not exhaustive!  Your real estate professional can provide you more info specific to your transaction.

  1. You should get a copy of all the paperwork which you have signed (electronically or paper)
  2. A timeline is usually given to the seller by the listing agent, an assistant, transaction coordinator or someone else involved in the sale (so that you know the major dates)
  3. The buyer’s initial deposit or good faith deposit should go to escrow (most often within 3 business days, most often a check but sometimes by wire)
  4. In Silicon Valley, normally buyers and their agent get disclosures from your listing agent prior to submitting their bid.  If they did not return the signed disclosures with the offer, this should be done not too long after the offer is accepted and certainly within any contingency timeframe for property condition.  The buyer’s agent will need to do a disclosure after walking through the property and carefully noting the condition (this is the AVID or Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure), so expect him or her to need to visit your property and spend some time looking at it carefully.
  5. The buyers may order inspections or have a walk through with the home inspector that you hired prior to putting your property on the market
  6. Assuming that this is a normal sale with some buyer contingencies, there will be a deadline for them to be removed.  Depending on many factors, the buyers may want to renegotiate some aspects of the contract after obtaining inspections or further information on the house, townhouse or condo.
  7. Once all contingencies are removed, you’re in the home stretch!  The next big events are the signoff at the title company and the final walk through, both of which tend to happen within the last week of the escrow period.
  8. Sometimes there is a seller rent back or lease back, and the seller may stay past the close of escrow date if that’s part of the agreement.  Normally, though, the seller must be fully out of the home on the day of closing, and the property should be reasonably clean or “broom clean”.  You’re not expected to wash the carpets and windows, but there should be no debris, the home should be fully empty and vacuumed and generally cleaned up after everything is gone.  Most sellers hire a cleaning crew to do this either the morning of the closing or the day before.

These are general milestones, not a complete list of what to expect. Want more info?  This is covered in more depth in my book, “Get the Best Deal When Selling Your Home in Silicon Valley“.