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How Long Can a House Be Under Contract?

How Long Can a House Be Under Contract

When making a big investment like buying a home, it’s important to get it right under legal laws. A critical phase in this process is the time between when your offer is accepted and the deal is finalized. During this period, there are negotiations to handle and requirements to meet to secure your dream home.

But how can you be sure that everything is going well? And is it normal for the process to take several months before you have your deed in hand?

In this blog, we’ll discover how long can a house be under contract and what affects this period.

What Is a Home under Contract?

When a home is under contract, it means it’s in a special stage of the buying process. This stage lasts until the closing process begins. During this time, the seller can’t take any new offers from other buyers but you can still put in your offer. If you do, you become a backup buyer. This means while the seller can’t accept your offer right away if the current deal falls through, you get a chance to buy the home.

This contract period is a way to ensure you have the time to meet local laws, finalize negotiations, and settle contingencies. These are factors that matter to both parties so you’ll need to include them in the agreement.

Here are examples of contingencies:

  • Home Appraisal: You’ll hire a third party to judge how much the property is worth.
  • Loan Securing: To ensure you can purchase the land, you might need to get funding from a bank. And so, to give you time to raise the money you might ask to add this contingency to the contract.
  • Home Inspection: Unlike the appraisal, this verifies whether the house meets human living standards. Additionally, the inspector will check if it’ll require repairs, replacements, pest control, and lead paint/asbestos/mold removal. Plus, you can ensure attached facilities such as a well or sewer line are in good condition.
  • Title Research: You should ensure the home’s documentation is valid, registered, and matches what the homeowner told you.

How Long Does a House Stay Under Contract?

Typically, you’ll have 30 – 60 days to close the deal. Each contingency, negotiation, or regulation will add to this period and you’ll extend it as needed. Conversely, you can speed up the process by ensuring parties have factual information. So, there’s less back and forth. You should also prepare ahead of time, promptly hand in documentation, and respond quickly.

However, this process may end early if either party fails to meet the stipulations of the agreement. For instance, if repairs are in the agreement but the seller refuses to do them you could say they broke the contract. Then, you’ll be free from the arrangement. However, if you end the contract the seller may retain your deposit.

But if the agreed timeline elapsed without either of you meeting the requirements, you could agree to extend it. Alternatively, you could start a new contract. Or, the seller may put the house back on the market or remove it from any listing.

What to Look for During the Under-Contract Period?

What to Look for During the Under-Contract Period

Here are steps you’re likely to undertake simultaneously when sorting the details of your purchase:

Meet Legal Requirements

When you’re buying a house, there are regulations you must adhere to. Meeting these requirements such as going through a waiting period will take time. In fact, it’ll even affect how long a house can be under contract. Since the more requirements there are, the longer it’ll take you to go through them.

Each region has its own requirements. And so, you’ll have to check with your local laws to ensure you’re buying your home correctly.

Home Inspection and Repair

You’ll have to either go to the house yourself or hire someone to do so. Especially at the end of the process, you should do a final walk-through. This will ensure you’ve checked that it’s in the condition you desire.

Additionally, it provides you with the opportunity to make demands from the seller if something displeases you. For instance, if a fixture broke you could ask to have it replaced. The seller will need to fix any part of the house that you’ve agreed needs mending or replacement.

Buyer Appraises the Home

Though you could accept the price set by the current homeowner, you should double-check it. You’ll do this by hiring someone to judge the value of this asset. Once they’ve come up with a price, you can use it to renegotiate how much you’ll pay

Parties Provide Documentation and Disclosures

You’ll require to exchange paperwork with the seller. On your end, that’ll include proof of your identity and ability to pay the price. For the seller, it’ll mean providing documents such as the title for you to research it. Additionally, depending on local laws the seller may need to disclose information about the property. For instance, some regulations require real estate agents to tell you if there’s been a recent death in the home.

Buyers Secure Financing

If you don’t have the funds to buy the home in one go, you’ll need to make arrangements for the payment. This may come in the form of loans or grants from financial institutions, charities, or even loved ones. The seller just needs an assurance that you can pay. Then, you’ll agree on how much and how you’ll do it.

How Long a House is Under Contract: The Factors Affecting the Period

How Long a House is Under Contract The Factors Affecting the Period

The following will affect the procedure’s length:

  • Legal Requirements: If there’s a minimum waiting period or extensive steps, you’ll need more time to complete the sale.
  • Finance Securing: For around 30 days, you’ll have the chance to gather the price amount. However, you’ll extend this period if you need more time to get a loan.
  • Home Inspection: If there’s an issue during this verification, the parties may agree to fix it. However, this means there’ll be another inspection to ensure the current homeowner made the appropriate repairs. And if they didn’t, you’ll need to repeat this activity.
  • Appraisal: You’ll extend the timeline if the judged value of the house doesn’t match the price. You’ll use this time to get a second opinion or bargain how much you’ll pay.
  • Title Research: Usually, you’ll have two weeks to ensure the land’s documentation is in order. But if there’s a problem such as details on the title not matching what you were originally told, you could extend the period.


Now you have a basis to judge how long can a house be under contract. Based on the steps required between the current homeowner accepting the offer and the closing, it’ll take around 30 – 60 days. You can reduce this time period by preparing documents ahead of time and ensuring everything is accurate. However, some steps may slow down the process such as the appraising, repairs, research, inspection, and finding the funds to make the purchase. So, take your time negotiating this contract and ensure your home meets all your needs.

Author Bio: Greg Sandler
Greg Sandler is a distinguished leader and strategist in the mortgage and real estate investment industry. With over two decades of experience, Greg has honed his expertise in guiding his clients to build wealth through real estate.

Greg Sandler has direct and first-hand experience as co-founder and CEO of USA Investment Group Management Inc., focusing on growing real estate holdings and diversified asset portfolios. Under Greg's guidance, the company has executed hundreds of traditional real estate acquisitions and currently manages a substantial portfolio of rental units.

Greg also has a track record of driving multi-million-dollar revenues and leading high-performing teams to success in mortgage loan originations, achieving the prestigious "Top 1% Originator" status in consecutive years. Currently steering the helm as the President at USALending.AI in Keller, TX, Greg has revitalized this division of a mortgage bank, significantly expanding the company's scale.

Prior to this, Greg's role as Senior Vice President at Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp in Rocklin, CA, was marked by his pivotal contribution in establishing the company's presence in northern California and northern Nevada. Under Greg's leadership, his team of nearly 110 dedicated mortgage professionals originated and funded approximately $800 million in residential mortgages annually.

Greg's professional journey is marked by his exceptional skills in negotiation, sales leadership, financial analysis, and P&L management. His ability to strategize, coupled with his in-depth knowledge of the mortgage and real estate sectors, makes him a visionary leader and a respected figure in the industry.

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