The 6th in a series of 10 posts answering frequently asked questions from buyers.
Answer - Congratulations! The acceptance of your offer starts a process that normally takes between 30-60 days, depending almost entirely upon the ability of your mortgage company to finalize your new mortgage. Your Realtor can play a crucial role on making this process go smoothly and as fast as possible. Here are the things that need to happen (or not happen):
2. You will need to schedule any inspections that you have requested in the Purchase Agreement - Termite, Radon, Home Inspection, Well & Septic, etc. Normally those are expected to be completed within 5 - 7 days of the acceptance date of the contract. You will need to make sure that the seller is scheduling any inspections and reports that you required of him/her – perhaps you asked him to do the Well and Septic inspection and he agreed. Your Realtor should be able to provide you with a list of companies that do the home inspections and probably has a list of people for the other inspections as well. You are responsible for contracting for and paying for the wood destroying pests inspection, the test for Radon and home inspections, normally at the time of the inspection. The seller is typically responsible for paying for the well and septic inspection and for providing a report of the results to you, but he may have kicked that back to you during the negotiations.
A good home inspector will show you where everything is, explain how all of the major systems work, explain how to re-light any pilot lights, how to change any filters and provide tons of other useful information for the new home owner. He will also record all of the model and serial numbers for the major systems, so that you have that information if you have to call for repairs. The cost of the home inspection varies by the size of the house, but figure somewhere in the $300-500 range and be ready to write the check when the inspection is done and the inspector turns over the report to you. You should also do a home inspection on new build homes, even though the builder may not want you to. Here’s an article that explains why.
If your inspector finds mold in the house, don't panic. Mold is a serious things but is another thing that can be fixed. All houses have some mold in them, mostly just simple mildew, but some have long standing issues that have resulted in the dreaded black mold. Even that have be remediated. So, don't panic. Read this post that I did earlier in the year about mold.
7. You'll need to purchase an insurance policy for the house and provide proof of paid-up insurance to the title companies ahead of closing or at closing. They usually require a paid-up one year policy.
8. You will need to plan for the move-in and possibly hire movers. Your Realtor may be able to
make recommendations for
movers. I usually don't recommend that you have your stuff on a truck that
is circling the block while the closing is taking place. too much can
still go wrong. Until you have the keys in hand, the house isn't yours, so
don't schedule the move-in until after closing.
9. The closing date is an agreed upon date between you and the sellers but is normally driven almost entirely by the length of time that it takes for your mortgage company to set up your mortgage. The Purchase Agreement may state that the closing will be held within "X" days of the completion of all of the necessary paperwork and/or give a "not to exceed" date that is normally 30-60 days from the acceptance date. If there is any need to move that date out further, an Amendment must be signed by both the Buyer(s) and Seller(s).
If the seller is staying on in the house after the closing, you will be due rent from him. The rate is normally determined by calculating the daily cost to you to own the house – mortgage (principal and interest), taxes, and insurance. That figure may have to be added to the Purchase Agreement in an Amendment, if you didn't know it at the time of the offer. The title company will retain in escrow an amount equal to the daily rate times the number of days that the seller has stated that he wants to stay, plus any damage deposit that you and the seller have agreed upon. That money will be paid to you when the seller leaves and the two of you have resolved any damage claim. Any balance will be rebated to the seller.
10. Once closing is set, you will have one final opportunity to inspect the property before closing. This is called the "walk-through inspection" and is normally scheduled for 24 to 48 hours prior to closing. This inspection allows you to see that no significant changes or damage has taken place to the property and that it is still as it was when you made the offer. If there is significant change, you may delay the closing to allow the seller to repair any damage or make right any changes. This might occur if the sellers decided, after you made your offer and they accepted it, to remove a light fixture or tear out an above ground pool.
The Offer that you made probably specifies that all of the light fixtures, window treatments and other attached or "permanent" features and fixtures of the house will stay, unless specifically excluded in the Purchase Agreement. Some sellers don't understand that and some just try to get around it. The final walk-through inspection is where you would catch that and request that the issue be resolved prior to closing. Don’t wait until after the closing to ask, “What happened to the chandelier in the dining room?” It will be too late then.
A day or two before closing it is a good idea to call the local utilities companies and arrange to get the utilities switched into your name. In Michigan the utility companies use the phrase “transitioning in” for the buyer and “transitioning out” for the seller. Sellers should be advised not to set the transition out date until after the closing. Sometimes if the buyer forget and the seller has set a date to transition out, the utility with shut of the service because they have no one to transition the bill to.