Maybe you need to move out of your apartment by a specific date. Maybe you’re starting a new job in another location and you need to move quickly. Or maybe you’re just excited about finally purchasing your dream home and you want to move in as quickly as possible.
Whatever the reason—and whether you’re the buyer or the seller—here are six expert-backed tips for speeding up the closing process.
If you need financing to buy a home, it’s a good idea to get pre-approved with a lender before you begin your search. This way, you’ll have already started part of the financing process, which includes stacks and stacks of paperwork (this is no exaggeration!).
Once you make an offer, ensure you’re available to respond quickly to phone calls and emails from the underwriter, who may need to verify information or ask you to send over additional documents, says Nishank Khanna with Clarify Capital. It’s also OK to simply let your lender know you’d like to close as quickly as possible—they understand that time is of the essence and may be able to fast-track your loan. And don’t hesitate to check in and see how things are going along the way.
“If you and your lender are playing phone tag, or the lender has to chase you down, things are absolutely going to slow,” says Khanna. “If you’re waiting around and unsure of your app status, definitely check-in and initiate further communication.”
As the buyer, one of the most surefire ways to speed up closing is to pay cash. No mortgage means you’re not waiting on an appraisal or for your lender to finalize all the underwriting paperwork. If you’ve got a couple hundred thousand dollars to spare and you want to close on a home quickly, cash is king.
“Paying cash is the best time-tested method for getting to closing sooner,” says Ryan Long, a real estate agent in Corvallis, Oregon. “Cash also may be the advantage your offer needs in a seller’s market as well, so don’t hesitate to offer it if you’re able to.”
Pre-schedule your inspection
Once you’re under contact, it’s important to schedule the home inspection as quickly as possible so you can begin potential negotiations about repairs or discounts. But did you know you can pre-schedule your inspection while you’re still making the offer? Yep, you sure can. Worst-case scenario? Your offer isn’t accepted and you simply cancel the inspection.
“This helps to reduce the length of an inspection contingency period,” Long says. “We’ve seen inspectors at the door as soon as an offer is officially accepted.”
Quicken (or skip) the appraisal
If you’re financing your home, your lender will order an appraisal, a process in which an independent expert studies your home and the neighborhood, then determines its value. You can ask your lender to schedule the appraisal as quickly as possible, which may mean offering a rush fee or bonus to the appraiser. Depending on your situation, this fee may be worth it.
“Sometimes you just need to throw money at the problem, and it may turn out to be an insignificant sum if it is holding up other transactions or means renting somewhere for an extra month,” says Long.
In certain situations, your lender may also offer what’s known as an appraisal waiver. They’re relatively rare, but becoming more common because of COVID-19. Instead of ordering an in-person appraisal, your lender will use an algorithm to come up with a value for your home. This not only saves you time, which means you can close faster, but it also saves you the appraisal fee, which is usually a few hundred bucks.
Without a doubt, contingencies can bog down your closing. What are they, exactly? They’re basically conditions that need to be met in order for the sale to go through. If you’re buying and selling a home at the same time, for example, your new mortgage might be contingent upon the sale of your existing home. You can skip contingencies like this altogether in a handful of ways, including by selling your house first and moving into a short-term rental while you search for your next home or working with your lender to get a bridge loan (a special loan that covers the gap between buying a new home and selling your current home).
If you’re trying to sell your house and you want to speed up the closing, you’ve got a few options, too. The first is to order an inspection of your own, then make all the recommended repairs, says Kseniya Korneva, a real estate agent in Tampa, Florida. Make the inspection report available to all interested buyers, which may help sway their decision to make an offer in the first place. They may even consider skipping their own inspection entirely (though they may still want one), which can help shave a few days off the process.
Similarly, you can also order your own appraisal and make the report available to prospective buyers, which will give them greater confidence in the home’s value. You can also hire a title company to run a title and lien search on your home ahead of time, Korneva says. These steps aren’t guaranteed to speed up the closing process, but they definitely can’t hurt. And perhaps equally as important, they can help you get competitive offers and sell your house more quickly overall.