Searching for a new home? From shopping to inspections to agent selections, the whole process is a lot to wrap your head around. Here’s a summary of house-hunting’s who, what, when, and where to make the process a little smoother:

Picking a home (1-2 months)

First thing’s first, you’ll want to choose a buyer’s agent. A buyer’s agent shepherds you through the purchase process, and potentially works by your side for a few months. That’s why it’s so important to take your time and select the right person.

Once you’ve got an agent, get on the same page about your wants and needs. Create a game plan. Establish a communication system to keep you both current with new listings and information. Select some target neighborhoods, and begin a market education, learning about pros, cons, prices, and pitfalls for areas of interest.

After thorough preparation, it’s time to view some properties. Ask all the questions you can think of, and select an option that checks as many boxes as possible.

When you pick a place, submit an offer, and negotiate with the seller until the offer is accepted.

Processing and Inspection (1-1½ months)

When the seller accepts your offer, it’s time to make good on your intentions to buy the home. You’ll deposit some of your earnest money (1-2% of the purchase price) to the seller as a good faith gesture. Concurrently, you begin a home inspection, receive the title report, and formally submit your mortgage application.

While executing an inspection, you’ll receive and review disclosures about the property from the seller. When an inspection report comes in, you can compare it with the seller’s disclosures, and request any appropriate repairs be performed. Once both you and the seller are happy, inspection contingencies are removed from the agreement, and you deposit the rest of the earnest money.

A preliminary title report arrives among the disclosures. Assuming the title communicates that the property is available to be sold, you can then arrange for a new homeowner’s insurance policy.

The processing of a mortgage loan takes between 30 and 45 days, and involves a property appraisal before the loan is approved and all contingencies are finally lifted.

Closing (2 days)

Your home is chosen. Your offer is accepted. Your inspection is clean. Your mortgage loan is processed. Now, it’s time to close.

On the day before closing, you’ll perform a final walkthrough inspection of the space. At this time, the seller transfers utilities into your name to be effective on the following day.

On closing day, you deposit the full downpayment and closing costs into escrow. Closing documents and loan papers are signed, and the mortgage loan is officially funded. The title transfers to your name. Escrow closes, funds move to the seller’s account, and your purchase process is complete!