Once your offer on a home is accepted, there are a series of things that need to happen before the home is finally yours:
- Deposit your earnest money: After your offer is accepted, you will need to deposit earnest money in escrow. “Escrow” is a third party that holds money involved in the transaction until a buyer and seller can close on a deal; escrow is designed to protect both buyers and sellers during this process. Earnest money
- Get a home inspection: Before it’s a done deal, you’ll want to get the house in question inspected. Your real estate agent should be able to recommend a few inspectors for you to choose from, and it’s definitely worth spending the money upfront to know about any issues the home may have. A home inspection will include an evaluation of the home’s foundation, plumbing, electrical, roofing, attic, basement, and more. If there are issues with the home, you may be able to ask the sellers to make repairs or deduct money from the overall cost of the home.
- Get an appraisal: Your lender needs to know how much money your home is worth so they know they are not loaning you more money than they should be. If you are to default on your loan and your lender is left with the house as collateral, they need to know that they’ll be able to sell the home for a certain amount of money to recoup their losses. If the appraisal comes in at a lower amount than your offer price, you may be on the hook for more money upfront if you cannot get a large enough loan.
- Negotiate the terms of the purchase base off findings: During your home inspection, you might discover that there are things that need to be updated. You may be able to use the need for updates to get discounts off of the home’s price, or you may be able to get sellers to make additional improvements.
- Set up your utilities: Of course, you’ll need things like gas, electricity, trash pick-up, water, cable, internet, etc. Depending on where you’re living, you may need to arrange each of these services before move-in day.
- Home insurance: Not only do mortgage companies require that you have home insurance, but it’s of the utmost importance to make sure that your home and possessions are protected. There are many different types of home insurance and coverage options, and depending on where you live, you may need additional insurance for things like earthquakes or floods.
- Scheduling your move: When you do finally have a possession date scheduled, the sellers have until 9pm to get you the keys. Because of this (and depending on the timing), you’ll likely not want to schedule your move-in day until the day after you receive your keys. If you want to spend the night in your new home, pack up a few boxes to get you through the first night, and begin official move-in day the next morning!
- Sign closing papers: This is the final part of escrow, and with this step you will sign the papers that officially make you the legal owner of your house. Your real estate agent will be able to prepare you for any last items that need to be taken care of at this time.
- Receiving keys from your real estate agent: Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for—the home is finally yours! Once you officially receive the house keys, you can start the move-in process.
Your agent (aka a buyer’s agent) should be here to guide the entire process from start to finish. Their goal should be to keep your best interests at heart, and to get you to the finish line!