When you’re setting out to buy your first home, you probably can’t wait to stand in your new house or apartment, keys in hand.

Unfortunately, the time between finding a property you want to purchase and actually owning it is often longer than expected.

To a certain degree, that’s normal. In fact, real estate dealers have a term for it – escrow. That’s the time between getting your buy offer accepted by the seller and them handing over the keys.

Nonetheless, there are several steps you can take to minimize unforeseen delays when buying your first home. Keep reading to find out what they are.

Start Off With a Realistic Schedule

First off, make sure that the schedule you lay out when you’re buying is realistic.

Often, unrealistic contract dates are set down in the seller’s offer, derailing your plans. That’s not a delay as such – it’s just how long things take – but you can still adjust your expectations to avoid getting caught on the wrong foot.

How long escrow actually takes depends on a variety of factors, from the type of financing you’re using, over the contingencies in your purchase offer, to regional rules and regulations, as well as the real estate market.

A home buyer in Detroit, for instance, could be facing a period between 7 and 60 days to close a real estate deal after the initial offer is accepted. The national average is 45-60 days.

If the periods given in your offer are much shorter than that, check back with a reliable real estate professional to get some clarity.

Follow up on Your Bank Appraisal

Next, make sure that your real estate agent is following up conscientiously on your bank appraisal.

Bank appraisals are one of the most crucial processes in closing a successful real estate deal – as well as a common source of problems. For instance, it could be that the bank appraisal reveals that the value of the home is actually lower than your purchase offer. Or you might find that the appraiser requires repairs.

In the worst-case scenario, you find out a few days before the closing date that repairs are required according to the bank appraisal prior to closing.

The easiest way to avoid these complications is to make sure that the property you have your sights on is appraised in good time at the sale price or greater – and that any repairs that might be required are finished on time.

Make Sure All Figures Match and All Titles Are Clean

As a next step to avoid delays in closing the deal on your home, it’s a good idea to hire an attorney. They’ll be able to help you with some of the biggest legal hurdles that can cause delays in real estate closings.

One of these hurdles is survey discrepancies. This refers to boundary disputes and encroachments – for instance, if there’s a disagreement with neighbors about fencing.

Another common issue is mismatched closing figures. That means your lender’s loan estimate differs from your purchase offer, and that, in turn, may not match what the seller thinks he’s agreed to getting. It’s crucial to agree on a figure in the closing statement document.

Finally, a legal professional can also help you ensure that a clean title is being transferred. That means that there are no other claims against the property – such as third-party ownership, fraud, or claims by the IRS.


At the end of the day, the best thing you can do to minimize unforeseen delays when you’re buying your first home is to stay on top of things with the help of legal and real estate professionals.

Make sure that your own timeline is realistic. Follow up on the bank appraisal. Check that surveys and closing figures match. Ensure that the title to the property is clean.

Checking all these boxes takes some effort – but it’s worth it when your closing date rolls around, and your home is yours at last!

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