Consumers view various properties with a Real Estate Sales Representative. (Usually) Compares the properties and prices. Reliance on the knowledge and experience of the sales representative is important.
MAKE A WRITTEN OFFER
Once the consumers decide on a property that they wish to buy, they will consult with the sales representative to arrive at an appropriate offer. At times the offer may be less than the house is listed for. Other times it may be appropriate to bid the asking price. Your sales representative will guide you on his or her opinion of a fair offer, but in the final analysis, the consumer must decide. The offer is made in writing on a contract form authorized to be used by real estate professionals. If the offer is accepted in writing by the Seller, there is a contract, and you go on to the next stage (Attorney Review); if the negotiations continue with counter-offers, the next stage waits until a final agreement is in place. Normally, your offer is accompanied by a check (initial deposit) for approximately $1,000. payable to the trust account of the Realtor.
It is now time to select an attorney to represent you in this transaction. The purchase of a home involves one of the largest expenditures a consumer makes. The guidance of a skilled attorney who concentrates on real estate transactions is necessary to protect your interests. The attorney has 3 business days (Sat., Sun. and holidays do not count) to review the contract and determine whether the terms are favorable to you. Often the attorney will consult with the attorney representing the Seller and they will agree on the terms of a "Rider" which becomes a part of the contract when signed by both sides. The attorney will also meet with you and address any concerns you have with the contract and its terms. At this first meeting the attorney should give you a written estimate of your anticipated closing costs. Once the attorney review is finished your are ready to go on to the next steps.
If you choose, now is the time for your professional home inspection. This is an examination of the structural integrity of the house, the condition of its mechanical and electrical systems, and the heating, plumbing and air conditioning systems. The inspector also inspects for wood damaging insects, and, if you wish, radon. You need to have this inspection completed soon, normally 10 days after the contract is finalized. The inspector issues a written report to you, your attorney and the Realtor. If you have any concerns with the report, you must notify your attorney right away since there are time limits the attorney must follow. (If you are purchasing a "resale" home rather than a brand new one, you should be aware that minor deficiencies and cosmetic items are normally not corrected by Sellers. The condition of the house is generally reflected in the negotiated purchase price
BALANCE OF DEPOSIT
Pay the balance of the deposit (usually 10%) by check according to your attorney's instructions. It is common for this deposit to be held in escrow (trust) until closing by either the realtor or the Seller's attorney
You should start your mortgage application as soon as possible. Sometimes the processing can take 4 - 6 weeks. If you want to have your mortgage in place for closing, do not delay. Often your Sales Representative can recommend sources for a mortgage. You also can scan the advertisements in the real estate section of the local newspaper for mortgage sources. Be sure to keep your attorney advised as to the name of the bank or mortgage broker you are using. Also, tell the mortgage representative who your attorney is.
Congratulations! You have obtained a mortgage commitment. Be sure to (1) tell your attorney, (2) tell your Sales Representative, (3) sign the acceptance portion of the commitment and send it back to the mortgage broker or bank, together with whatever fees are then due. If you have any questions about the meaning of the commitment, you should ask your attorney to explain it to you.
TITLE SEARCH AND SURVEY
Once you have obtained the mortgage commitment, the transaction is considered "firm". At this time your attorney will order a title search of all public records to make sure that the seller has good enough title to give to you. If there are any defects, your attorney will refuse to close title until they are remedied. Unless there is a recent survey of the property (3 years) available from the seller, your attorney will send a surveyor to the property to prepare a written survey map. You will be asked if you want a "staked" survey where each corner is marked with an iron stake or pipe. This costs a little more, but if you plan to build a fence, or driveway, it is worth knowing your exact property line. If the property is a Cooperative Apartment or Condominium a Survey is much simpler and less costly.
Your contract has a closing date in it. This is an "estimated" date. Everyone tries to make the closing as close to this date as possible. But, if you are not ready, the mortgage banker is not ready, or the seller is not ready, reasonable postponements are allowed. Hopefully, your closing will be one of the 99% which close on a date agreeable to all with cooperation from both sides. At the closing (usually in your attorney's office) both sellers and buyers meet, with their attorneys and the real estate professionals involved. Normally, your attorney will represent the title insurance company and will close the mortgage documents. This saves you the expense of paying separate fees for these items. Your attorney has you sign all of the mortgage documents; he or she then goes over the closing figures with you and collects from you the balance due, after the deposit and mortgage. Your attorney then examines the documents presented by the Seller's attorney (Deed, Affidavits, etc.)
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