You found the home of your dreams, negotiated an offer, and now have an executed agreement and a house under contract, now what? This article will provide you a step-by-step purchasing a house checklist so that your home buying experience will be as stress free as possible. Keep in mind that missing just one of these steps can delay your closing or possibly void the transaction, so it is vital you meet all contingency deadlines.
A Realtor is your best means of ensuring a smooth transaction. One of the many duties of a good realtor is to walk you through the contract to close process. Your realtor along with our home buyer guide checklist will ensure no item is overlooked.
What Happens After Signing a Contract on a House?
Earnest Money Deposit
The earnest money is your commitment to the seller signifying you are serious about purchasing the home. It is typically held in a non-bearing interest account with a title company or attorney. Upon closing, it is used to fund your down payment and closing costs.
Some realtors will collect the earnest money deposit before the offer is submitted. Others will arrange delivery to the designated attorney or title company once the contract is fully executed. Either way, it is important that you refer to your contract for the earnest money deadline.
The inspection period begins as soon as you have an executed contract. Refer to your contract for the inspection period deadline. Make sure that all inspections have been completed and any items of concern on the inspection report have been addressed with the seller prior to the deadline.
Depending on the property you are purchasing you may need to schedule more than the standard home inspection. Other inspections may include an AC inspection, mold inspection, roof inspection, termite or pest inspection, or a radon test.
Begin the Loan Process
Once you have an executed contract, you will need to contact your lender to start the loan process. It is typically within 5 days after going under contract, but every contract is unique to its buyer. Refer to your contract for the time frame in which your loan application must be started.
The loan process will require a lot of documentation throughout the transaction, and submitting it in a timely manner is important. During the loan process, follow up with your lender periodically to ensure they have everything they need. In addition, confirm closing will happen as per the contractual deadline. Failure to submit documents by the deadlines can result in a breach of contract, putting your escrow deposit at risk.
After your loan documents have been submitted, your lender will order an appraisal. The appraisal will determine the home’s value and guarantee it matches your loan value. Since the buyer typically pays for the appraisal, it’s best to wait to order it until all inspection contingencies have been met.
When a house appraises less than the offer price there are several options to consider. Option #1 is to present the appraisal to the sellers and request that they meet you at the appraised value. Option #2 would be for the buyer to come up with the difference between the agreed-upon purchase price and the appraised value in the form of cash. Option #3 is when neither party can agree on a solution, then the final option is to cancel the contract.
A title search is performed by your selected title company. It will uncover any defects in the title such as liens or encumbrances, which will need to be resolved prior to closing. Although the title company will advise you on any concerning issues, you or your attorney should review the title commitment as well. You will only have a few days to let the Seller know if anything on the commitment is unacceptable, so be sure to refer to your contract for the title commitment deadline.
You lender will require you to have homeowner’s insurance. Homeowner’s insurance will protect your house and possessions. Shop around for the best coverage and rates. Once selected, let both the lender and the title company know who you chose. If you are a first time home buyer or are new to the area, consult your Realtor for a list of recommendations.
Several days prior to closing, contact the pertinent utilities companies to transfer service into your name starting the day of closing. This includes electric, water, gas, trash pick up and internet and cable. If you are unsure of who your utility companies are for the area, consult your Realtor.
Schedule Closing Time & Location
As the closing date draws near, contact your title company to schedule a time and location for the closing. Many times buyers and seller’s will close at the same time, but in some cases they are scheduled separately. If you can not attend closing, the title company will arrange a mail-a-way closing. This should be brought to the attention of the title company early on to allow time for the title company to accommodate your request.
The Walk through
A home walk through is advisable. The walk through usually takes place the day prior to closing, but some buyers choose to do it within a few hours of closing. The purpose of a walk through is as follows. First, it is assurance that the home is in the same condition as when it went under contract. Second, it is confirmation that all repairs have been made. Lastly, it ensures the buyer that all the seller’s personal belongings have been removed. This is not a time to negotiate terms of the contract, but rather assurance that the home is move-in ready.
Items to check during the walk through include but are not limited to the exterior, appliances, flushing toilets. windows, water, AC, lights, and garage door openers. Unless it was agreed upon that these items would not covey, you should confirm that any light fixtures, drapery rods, and appliances that were in the home when you originally viewed the property are still there.
Funds will need to be wired to the closing company the day prior to closing. The title/closing company will provide you the exact amount along with the wire instructions. On closing day, bring your driver’s license, and plan on being there approximately one hour. Once all the necessary documents are signed, funds will be disbursed. This may happen right away or it may take several hours. Once the title company receives confirmation of disbursement, the keys will be released to you.
Need Help Buying or Selling a Home?