Make an offer—if this is the house you want, it is time to make a formal offer and sign a real estate contract. This is a legally binding contract, so take it very seriously. Once the contract is signed, you are committed to buying the house if the seller agrees to all your terms. The contract should contain all your terms and contingencies. Those contingencies might include a property inspection, appraisal, loan approval or a survey. Contingencies enable you as a buyer to opt out the sales contract if concerns or problems are discovered during your due diligence. Once you come to terms with the seller, both sides will sign the contract.
Inspections—as part of your contract, you should have established the right to property inspections. The most common type of inspection is the “general inspection”. In the general inspection, the inspector will check everything from the basement to the shingles including all the systems. Other types of surveys can include water quality, air quality and zoning. I always suggest going to the property inspection with the professional inspector. It is a great way to get to know the house better. Pay attention to what the inspector says and follow his recommendations. If large problems come to light, this is your opportunity to ask the seller to fix them or adjust the sales price to allow for the problem. If you cannot come to a resolution on the problem, you have the right to void the contract based on your inspection contingency.
Appraisal—if you are taking out a mortgage to buy the house, the lender will insist on an appraisal. A third party appraiser will visit the property and determine the market value of the property. You will have to pay for the appraiser, but it will protect you from paying too much for the house.
Loan commitment—you should have gotten a pre-approval from a lender before you started your home search. Now that you have a house under contract, your lender will do its diligence on you. They will check your credit, work history and debt level. The bank will also check the title report on the property. When the lender is done with its review, and found everything satisfactory, you will be granted a full loan approval.
Walk-thru—the day before you close or the morning of the close you should do once last walk thru of the house. Check for any new damage, repairs that were supposed to be done, and for everything that was supposed to be left.
Closing—the closing can take place at the title company’s office, the lender’s office or even your realtor’s office. At closing, you will sign dozens of documents and turn over a cashier’s check for your share of the purchase price and closing costs. You will also pay the seller for any oil or propane they left behind.
When you leave the closing with keys in your hand, it is time to start turning the house you bought into your home.
Rick is a Realtor, real estate author and long- time Windham resident. You can contact Rick with any of your real estate questions or needs at columnist@TheWindhamEagle.com.