This is a great question and many sellers are willing to to delay your closing date to best meets your needs. I would start to look as early as March and you might want to close a month or two before you move to get any work done.
Good luck and let me know if I may assist with any other questions.
To add to all of the great answers below;
There are many parts to a sales agreeement and your closing date is one of those parts that is certainly negotiable!
If you find a home that you would like to put an offer in on and you are 90 days out from where you feel comfortable closing - you can certainly make the other parts of your offer (such as the amount you are offering, your hand money, and your inspection contingencies)
Also - be sure to get pre-approved, but also rememeber that a lender can only lock you into a rate for a fixed period of time. You will want to make sure that if you have an extended closing - that the rate the lender has offered will stay locked in during your contingency period.
Please let me know if you have any other questions!
It takes approx. 60 days from point of loan approval, search, execution of sales offer, inspection, appraisal, close.
Budget time HOWEVER prior to search know exactly what you want, area of town, configuration of home # bedrooms, baths, living, single story, pool, and etc. Realtor can then have specific info work on your behalf, many 1st home buyers ask us as realtors make their decisions. Knowledge has power.
Keep in mind when you close 1st month mortgage does not usually start till AFTER 30 days from close.
Reduce your credit card debt NEVER close an account, save for down payment approx.3.5% or more
You receive annual tax benefit owning a home
If you are currently on an annual lease, when you continue renting after the end of the lease, it is usually done on a month to month. Check with your landlord.
First and foremost, before looking for a home, get in touch with a mortgage broker who deals with local lenders, or get in touch with a credit union or local bank. Figure out there rates and see which ones would come up with better services. The reason I say local lenders is the fact that they have not been as affected by the mortgage crisis by lending to people who can't afford to pay back the loans. Find out what they are looking for in downpayments and see what you will be able to afford. REALLY afford.
As for when you should start looking, I would say now is a great time to start looking at the neighborhoods you would be interested in. Check out the tax rates of the communities. See which areas would offer better comutes to work, play, etc. Figure out what type of places would be good. Single family, twin, townhome, condo. See what the pros and cons of everything is.
Once you have that done, I would then get in touch with a real estate agent to help you find a home. They will represent you and all of your wants and needs. I think the real search should be in the June/July time frame.
Hope that helps,
Terrence Charest, e-Pro
This will save you a lot of time once the contract is in.