It depends what type of financing and what type of property you are purchasing. Typically lenders have told us that financing procedures have changed. More documentation is required to approve financing transactions. 45-60 days would be a good number to use from the time of a ratified contract (a contract that is accepted by the seller) and your date of settlement (the date that the property is turned over to the buyer).
If you are purchasing a short sale property, that number could change. The possibilities of you actually going to settlement on a short sale property is also very unstable. The lender may elect to accept another contract or even pull the property from the market the day before settlement. There are a lot of challenges with short sale properties and it is important that you work with an agent that is going to represent you in the transaction. They can't totally control the outcome but they can guide you and keep you abreast of what is happening during the process.
Whether you purchase a typical resale home (one that is being sold by the seller), a new construction or a short sale/foreclosure home (as described above), get representation. It is important that you work with an agent who is going to represent you, the buyer. Sign a buyer agency agreement and be loyal to the one who is going to:
*explain the process of a buying
*help you obtain financing through a REPUTABLE lender
*help you find the home that is going to meet your needs
*helps you construct the sales agreement to get you that home and negotiate for you
*helps you through the inspection process
*helps you get to the settlement table
Remember, if you purchase a home before 12/31/09 you may be eligible for up to $8,000 tax credit that does NOT have to be repaid. Now that is SWEET for first time home buyers!