You’ve found the home of your dreams, and made an offer. What happens next? Quite a few things, is the answer, before you get the keys to your new home.
The offer may seem like the end of the process, but it’s actually just the beginning of the really important things you need to take care of.
1. Give Your Earnest Money Deposit
Most house sales will include an earnest money deposit to show you are serious about your offer. The deposit will be accepted by the realtor and put into an escrow account. It will count towards your down payment and/or closing fees. It will usually be 1% to 3% of the asking price for the house.
2. Apply for Your Mortgage
Ideally, you’ve been pre-approved with a lender, but now you need to finalize terms and get ready to sign on the dotted line. This is a crucial step, because even though you have been pre-approved, you still might not be able to get a mortgage, or one with the favorable terms you might have hoped for. You credit score or employment situation might have changed, or the bank’s lending policy.
But it’s not the end of the world. You’ll have to start again, but you do have all the paperwork organized and you can compare terms.
3. Get the Home Appraised and Inspected
The appraisal will assess whether or not the price is in line with what the house is worth. No mortgage lender will give you a loan for more than the house is worth.
The inspection will assess whether the house is in good repair, or whether there might be issues that need to be fixed by the seller before the sale can go through.
Ask your realtor for the names of two or three reliable home inspectors and get an appointment for them to inspect the property. They will produce a detailed report on their findings.
If the house inspection is not perfect, in most cases the seller will have the “right to cure” the issue – that is, time to fix things so the sale does not fall through completely. However, this can take some time and you need to be certain all the repairs are carried out before completing the deal.
If you want to take them on yourself, then you should be able to reduce your offer because you will be paying for the repairs. Be sure your realtor attends the inspection and renegotiates based on what has been found.
4. Get Your Down Payment and Closing Costs Ready
Make sure the funds you need are both accessible. For example, if you plan to take out a loan from your 401k as a deposit, be sure to have the money in an easy-to-access savings account. If you plan to sell stocks and shares, don’t wait. Keep all your paperwork to show you have the money ready.
In terms of the closing costs, be clear about what is involved, like title and deed fees, legal fees and so on. Your realtor should be able to give you guidance on what to expect. Don’t forget; your earnest money can go towards the costs.
5. Get Homeowner’s Insurance
This might be included with your mortgage, or you may have to shop around.
6. Do a Final Walk-Through
You can do this 48 hours before closing, just to make sure you are happy with any work that has been done. Now is the time to speak up. After the sale will be too late.
7. Close the Deal
You and your realtor will be there to sign all of the official documents for your mortgage and for the home. Bring photo ID and a cashier’s check for the final amount you have been told you will need.
If you are buying the house with your spouse or partner, they will need to be there with photo ID as well. Pay the money, and get the keys to your new home.