I’ve Found My Dream Home — Now What?

March 12, 2010

When you find a home you love, things kick into high gear. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Your buyers’ agent will notify the list agent of your intent to submit an offer, obtain a seller’s statement of property condition (when available) and secure a completed and signed lead paint disclosure if the property was built prior to 1978.
  • Your agent will also find out whether any other offers are in-hand or expected and as much as possible about the seller’s situation, in order to determine the offer terms that would be most appealing.
  • Your agent will prepare a comparative market analysis on the property and strategize with you on the terms of the offer: price, contingencies, timeframe and special requests.
  • The offer will be prepared and presented to the list agent, along with your pre-approval letter and a check for $1000 of “earnest money.”
  • The list agent will then present your offer to the seller, who will either accept it, reject it, or counteroffer.
  • If/when your offer is accepted, your agent will assist you in hiring an attorney and scheduling a structural/pest home inspection, as well as any additional desired inspections.
  • If you’re buying a condo, your agent will coordinate with the list agent on getting access to the roof, basement and common utilities.
  • The inspection will generally be conducted within 8 days of receiving an accepted offer — you and your buyers’ agent will attend. If you decide to also have a lead paint inspection, it must happen within 10 days of the accepted offer.
  • If the inspection uncovers any problems with the home, your agent will renegotiate the terms of the offer on your behalf. (In cases where a solution cannot be reached, your agent will revoke your offer and request the return of your deposit.)
  • Assuming agreement on all terms is reached, your attorney will review the Purchase & Sale (P&S) Agreement prepared by the seller’s attorney, amending as necessary. You and the seller will sign the P&S, generally within 10 – 12 days after the accepted offer.
  • The day after the P&S, you will complete your official mortgage application, notifying your agent of the lender you have selected.
  • Your lender will arrange for an appraisal (usually within three weeks), and assuming all goes well, will issue a mortgage commitment in writing. You must sign this letter, meet all conditions and return it to the lender.
  • Your attorney will conduct a title search and if you’re buying a condo, review the condo documents and budget. Your buyers’ agent may also contact the condo association to clarify bylaws and get additional insight into the association’s management philosophy.
  • If you’re buying a condo, your agent will obtain a copy of the master insurance policy and help you determine what additional insurance you may need.
  • Your closing will be scheduled by your lender’s attorney about a week in advance, for a date usually 4 – 8 weeks after the offer is accepted. A few days before, you will be notified of the exact time and location. You will also receive a settlement document itemizing the fees you will be paying at the closing. You must obtain a cashier’s check to cover these costs as well as your downpayment.
  • Your agent will help you coordinate the transfer of service for your utilities.
  • The day before or morning of closing, you and your agent will do a final walk through of the property to make sure the sellers have vacated and cleaned, and that everything is in order.
  • At closing, you and the seller will sign documents, you will present your check and proof of insurance, your lender will disburse funds to the seller and the seller will give you keys to your new home.
  • Following the closing, your attorney will record the documents at the Registry of Deeds and you’re officially a homeowner!

Note that although you are ultimately responsible for managing this process, a good buyers’ agent will be keep an eye on details and deadlines, and will be communicating with you, your attorney, and your lender all the way through closing, to ensure a smooth transaction.

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