Are you buying a house? If you’ve found the home you’ve dreamed of, and the seller has accepted your offer, then most likely you’ve signed on the (contract’s) dotted line. At this point in the process of buying a house, you are in what's typically called a "Sale Pending" status. So what happens next? While it can be difficult to be patient when all you can think about is when you’ll get those shiny new keys, there are a few more steps to buying a house before you get to walk through the front door of your new home.
Steps to Survive and Thrive During the House Buying Process
When you’re in a “Sale Pending” status it’s helpful to set your expectations. This is especially true if you're a first-time home buyer. You are embarking on an exciting new chapter in your life and it can inevitably make it difficult to be patient. Now, however, is the time for patience as there are many steps that still can go awry in the closing process, before you have wrapped up your real estate transaction. But here is the good news: you'll have many visits to the house you are buying to meet with your agent, inspectors, and more.
These are the 10 typical steps in a house buying process. To complete each of these next steps, you'll want to work closely with your real estate agent and take advantage of his or her knowledge and guidance.
1. Money Matters
If you have not done so already, you want to get the money step over immediately. This is crucial to being able to make more visits to your hopefully soon-to-be new home. This money step is the deposit you make to the seller that shows your good faith intention to buy the home. Your agent may refer to this deposit as earnest money, due diligence money, or the escrow deposit. Making this deposit also gives you the time you’ll need to arrange the mortgage and complete the other steps below. Bear in mind that you and the seller will need to agree to a timeframe when you make the deposit, though you can ask for an extension if needed to complete the remaining steps. Ask your agent for guidance on the best time frame to set for you.
2. Documents Roundup
Most likely your agent has discussed the list of documents you need to provide to your lender, but typically they will include income and tax-related documents. Work with your lender to be sure you know everything they will need from you. You must gather these documents and provide them to your lender as quickly as possible. Moving fast here is important because getting lender approval can sometimes take a week or more and you want to be able to close on time, right?
3. Set Closing Date
If you are in a “sale pending” status, you and the seller, and your respective agents, will negotiate an agreed-upon closing date. In choosing a closing date, you’ll want to build in enough time to complete the lending process, consider the availability of your lawyer (if you need one in your state), and try to find a date that’s close to your expected move-in date. Bear in mind that negotiating the closing date may also mean taking the seller's contingencies into consideration, as they will need to be met before the closing date. Setting the closing date is an exciting step, as it also sets the final walkthrough date in motion!
4. Inspection Time
The next big step is getting the home inspection scheduled. You will want to work with your real estate agent to set these dates. Try to schedule the appointment as soon as possible so that if issues arise as a result of the inspection, you’ll have time to address them in negotiations with the seller. Be sure the date you set is a day you can be at the house when the inspector is there. If you have concerns that you’d like the inspector to focus on, it’s a good idea to discuss those things ahead of the scheduled date.
5. Contractor References
Your real estate agent is a great resource for contractors. Now is a good time to get estimates on any changes you might want to make so you can factor those costs into your plans.
6. Appraisal Time
Ask your lender when the home will be appraised—getting this step completed early during the deposit timeframe will allow you to perhaps negotiate a better price if the home doesn't appraise.
7. Negotiate Repairs
When you get the inspection report(s) back, this is your opportunity to negotiate repairs with the seller. You and the seller will work out whether the seller will make the repairs or provide you with a financial concession at closing so that you can pay your contractor to do the repairs.
8. Re-key the Locks
If all goes accordingly in the previous seven steps, it means your closing date has arrived, and you’ll soon get those keys. Time to celebrate. It's also time to find a local locksmith and get all the doors re-keyed. This is an important step for home security.
9. Turn on the Lights
One last thing to do before your move-in date arrives is to set up your utilities. The seller’s agent is often the best person to ask about local providers for electricity, gas, water, cable, and internet.
10. Home Warranty Protection
Be sure to ask your agent about getting home warranty coverage. You can add a real estate home warranty plan for up to 60 days after your closing. Want to learn more? You can find all the details about the appliances and home systems you can protect and get a free home buyer’s warranty quote in minutes.