What To Do After Signing a Contract

… Understanding  the process for retail buyers

Let’s just say that if the fun hasn’t begun already, it will start now. For the next thirty to sixty days, or whatever time frame you put between contract signing and closing, the gears will be in motion, getting everything ready for the big day when you take possession of your new home. There will be appraisals and surveys to order, title searches and inspections to conduct and lenders to meet with. At the same time, you’ll be making arrangements for your own move, informing your landlord about your expected departure, or putting your current home at the market to sell.

This will be a time of excitement as well as stress, so just take it in stride and try not to get overwhelmed. In just a few months you’ll have your feet up on the coffee table in your new abode, and you’ll be happy that you decided to embark on this journey.

The most important task that you’ll need to tackle right now is finalizing your mortgage, and while the financial aspect of your purchased transaction is very important, so are the various additional steps that must be taken to ensure a smooth closing. If you and/or the home seller are working with a real estate agent, it will make a big difference in the amount of work you’ll be doing over the next one to two months. I’ve done it both ways, and both strategies have their pluses and minuses. The good news for buyers is that you probably won’t be affected by the downside (namely, the commission that must be paid to the agent at the closing table) anyway. However, in today’s changing real estate industry, there are a number of different business models that brokers are using, some of which do demand funds from the buyer’s side of the transaction. (Inquire about any such fees before getting into a relationship with the agent.)

Since it’s the agent’s best interest to be sure a deal makes it to the closing table, she will predictably handle-or orchestrate-much of what goes on behind the scenes between contract signing and closing. During this time, you may be asked to produce documents, review home inspection reports, or take other important steps, but for the most part your agent will handle the myriad tasks that must be checked off prior to closing. You’ll be in close contact with your agent (or attorney) during this time as all parties anticipate the scheduled closing date. During the interim, several key tasks will be completed. Here are the major steps, but remember that every sale is different and yours may require a different approach.

  • You will apply for financing.
  • The lender will order an appraisal and termite inspection.
  • The lender will also order a property survey to be completed.
  • You or your agent will arrange for a home inspection, and, based on the report, will decide if you are indeed going to purchase the home (if you included a home inspection contingency in the contract).
  • By this time, you will find out if you have been approved for financing, thus fulfilling the “mortgage contingency” clause in the contract and locking your interest rate.
  • You will learn whether the home you purchasing has a “clear title” or if any liens or debts need to be cleared up prior to closing.
  • you and/or your lender will conduct any further tests required, such as radon gas and lead paint testing.