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When to Begin Looking for a New Home?

Home buying is a major life decision that requires planning and a moving timeline. Generally, the ideal time frame is about 5 months before the actual move-in. This time window helps you organize things that need to be done, search for the right property, and relocate smoothly. But getting the ball rolling as soon as possible is much better than making a rash decision over a property purchase. Whether you are buying your first home or your next, having enough time will give you a better home-buying experience. 

Signs that you should start looking for your new home

Moving to a new home is not easy because you need to consider your budget, the location, and other important factors, including the challenge of finding the right ‘one.’ But relocating offers a new beginning that resolves any of the following dilemmas:

  • Your current home is not working for you anymore. You need more storage space for your new stuff. There is no extra space for the new furniture you want to buy. In short, you’ve outgrown your living abode. 
  • Your family is growing big. You and your spouse are planning to start a family or add another child. You may also want to adopt pets.
  • Your neighborhood is not safe anymore. Perhaps the crime rates in your present location are getting worse, and you don’t feel secure. You worry for your family’s safety, especially your kids.
  • You want to downsize. If your kids are already grown up, and it’s you and your spouse now, opting for a smaller house or condo is a good idea. You would save on your mortgage, utility bills, repairs and maintenance, and cleaning time.
  • Your current city’s popularity to new buyers is declining for some reasons, and selling off your property would be harder in the future, so you want to do it now and relocate.
  • Your current home or location is not supporting your life’s dream. Perhaps you want to have a spacious home office or work area for your hobby, but the limited space prevents it from happening. 
  • You are considering a lifestyle change like freelancing or spending more time at home to pursue your culinary skills, and you need a bigger kitchen area.
  • Your kids do not invite their friends anymore because there is no room to hang out, play, or work on their school projects. 
  • You believe that relocating is better than repairing your present living space. Save your wallet and sanity by starting fresh. The constant need to repair, whether DIY or through service contractors, is stressful and expensive.
  • You are putting off moving because of the dreading process of home-selling and home-buying. You want to prepare your current house for sale but are still not able to do it. Seek help by getting the services of a real estate company near you. 
  • You are still hesitating to give up your current mortgage and intimidated by the rising prices of housing. 
  • You want to move closer to your work location. The office commute takes precious hours from your day. You want to cut down the gas cost or the inconvenience of traffic by exploring options to move in a condo or townhouse near your office. 
  • You are entering a new phase of your life, like getting married, having more kids, or separating from a spouse. A new place of your own can be emotionally refreshing.

Home-buying timeline

Assuming you already decided to open another chapter of your life and relocating is the best thing to start it off, here’s a good timeline leading to the moment of moving into your new house.

Month 1 (4 months to go)

This is the time of searching for your dream house and checking if the options fit your budget. Hoppler can help you in this situation. We provide a comprehensive listing of condos, family houses, and townhomes in the metro and neighboring areas.

  • You get key information like the listing price, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, days on the market, sales history, and photos of the property.
  • You can save your searches and set up filters based on the criteria you set.
  •  You will receive alerts and receive targeted emails instantly or daily.
  • You get invites for open houses and property tours.

It is also the best period to find a trusted, experienced real estate agent to help you in your property quest. Working with a realtor gives you a lot of advantages and saves your time chasing your ideal homes. A good real estate agent has extensive knowledge of the market, negotiating skills, professional networks, access to off-market listings, a list of available properties within your budget range, and more. You can decide to get one now or wait until you have settled things in the process.

Take this time, as well, to improve your credit ratings or save money for the major move that will happen soon. 

Month 2 (3 months to go)

While looking at the properties on the market, you can start working on mortgage affairs. If you are a new home buyer, you need to know the difference between mortgage pre-approval and pre-qualification. Your real estate agent can help you in this matter, too.

Prequalification for a home mortgage requires providing the broker or the bank information of your assets, income, and debts. The lender will assess if you pre-qualify for the tentative amount for your purchase of a home.

Mortgage pre-approval is a deeper process that necessitates providing proof of income, employment record, proof of assets and liabilities, as well as account locations and numbers of your investments/bank accounts. A pre-approved mortgage gives you more buying power and confidence to afford the house you want within the price range. 

Pro tips:

  • Remember that mortgage matter should come before deciding what house to buy.
  • It gives the assurance of financing and the price point, allowing you to start looking for the ideal property that fits your preferences and budget.

Month 3 (2 months to go)

During this period, you can sign a contract with your realtor and enter the formal buying phase. Have a checklist and provide the real estate agent with your criteria so they can easily identify the perfect choices for your perusal. House hunting is a fun experience, and with a realtor, you are spared from visiting houses that do not meet your specifications. 

Month 4 (1 month to go)

If you haven’t found one that matches your preferences and requirements, use this month to look for more options. An average buyer visits eight homes before finding the right one. However, there is no strict rule on this — it can be less or more. You need enough time to see and feel if the property speaks to you and has all the necessary elements in your checklist. 

Also, you may need to tweak your list or modify it if you believe that there are one or two properties that you really like and within your budget. However, you need to weigh down the pros and cons if you overlook some minor features. 

It is the best time to make a decision because normally, the possession date of buying a property is around 4 to 6 weeks. This means that if you put an offer to a house anytime this month, you need to wait for the seller’s decision or wait for the date when the previous owner wants to move out. 

Pro tip: Make sure that when you put the final offer, you have considered the closing cost and other necessary fees.

Month 5

At this juncture, your offer has been accepted, and you need to take care of the mortgage, home inspection, insurance, and start packing.

  • It’s time to visit the bank or the mortgage lending firm to pick out the type of mortgage and terms. You also need to verify the loan details like rates, mortgage insurance, monthly payment, and more.
  • Use this period to book a home inspection to clear any inspection contingencies that may come up.
  • If home insurance is part of the closing condition, coordinate this with your service provider.
  • Begin packing to get everything ready for the big move. Have a checklist and a moving-in timeline to make the transition stress-free and well-organized.

End of month 5

Finally, the moment you are waiting for is finally here — the possession time. You bid goodbye to your old home and close its door, head out to your new place and say hello. 

New home, a new beginning

Indeed, finding your dream house is not always easy. Having a timeline helps you work on things that are necessary for the home-buying process. You become more organized, prepared, and relaxed as you deal with financial, emotional, and physical challenges that come along with the quest of buying a property. In the end, all the efforts and hassles you go through are nothing compared to the joys of having a new home. 

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