Wondering when you’ll finally close on that dream home? You’re not alone.

While no two home buying experiences are alike, familiarizing yourself with a typical timeline for purchasing a home will help you anticipate the different stages of the process. Preparing for each step will help you feel like the closing date is finally within reach. So just how long does it take to buy a house? Read on, and you’ll be one step closer.

Stage 1: The Home Search

Finding your home can be one of the longest steps in the home buying process. The first home you see will likely not be the last, so leave yourself plenty of time to have your agent show you a range of homes.

Stage 2: The Mortgage Process

It’s important to remember that the stages of the home buying process overlap, so you’ll likely be looking for a mortgage while searching for a home. The first step in securing the right mortgage is to apply for preapproval, which will require your financial documents and information. You should receive a preapproval letter within a few days, which shows the seller that you have the wherewithal to actually purchase the home.

Stage 3: Making An Offer

Once you’ve found the home you want, it’s time to make an offer. Expect to wait a few days to a week to hear if your offer is accepted. If your offer includes contingencies for home inspections and other factors, know that your wait time may be longer, and the seller may even come back to you with a counter-offer. It’s important to work with your agent during this process and take your time, as errors can end up causing the deal to fall through.

Stage 4: The Inspection

A home inspection is crucial to ensure that the property you are purchasing is as represented. While the inspection itself can be done in a day, expect your final inspection report to come a few days later. Ensure that you don’t have to wait too long for an inspection appointment by researching inspectors beforehand. Should the inspection report come back with issues, you’ll likely have to head back to negotiating with the seller to have those issues resolved before moving forward.

Stage 5: Before The Closing

You’ll need to do some prep work to make sure your closing can happen on time. Delays can be common when there is paperwork missing or errors on existing paperwork. You’ll need to confirm your mortgage with your lender and verify that they will be able to issue funds according to your schedule. Then, the lender will have an appraisal done to verify the property’s value. You’ll also need to get homeowner’s insurance at this point. All of this should be started as soon as possible as it can take two to three weeks just to receive all of the information you need.

Stage 6: The Closing

Should the rest of the process move slowly, your closing date will hopefully be about 30-40 days from when you submitted an offer. Gather all of your paperwork, and make sure you have access to the money you’ll need for the closing. This includes your down payment and any additional closing costs, so if your money is somewhere other than a bank account, leave yourself plenty of time to access it. If everything runs smoothly on the day of the closing you’ll leave as a homeowner.

While the home buying process can feel long, you’re making a big decision that you’ll be living with for years to come. Do all you can to prepare by reaching out to lenders immediately, so you know what you’ll be able to pay for. Answer a few questions here and a home lending expert will contact you with information.