You’ve made an offer for a house. Now what? Well, the first thing to be ready for is a counter-offer.
You’ve made an offer for a house. Now what? Well, the first thing to be ready for is a counter-offer. Unless you’ve offered full price without asking for any concessions from the seller, the seller might ask you to pay more, change the closing date, or make other changes to your offer.
Once you’ve negotiated an offer that the seller accepts, you’ll be told you’re “under contract.” You and the seller have agreed upon terms of the sale and now have a sales contract to complete.
Now the stress barometer steadily rises. Buyer remorse sets in. It’s like buying a unique new car that will really make you stand out from the crowd – only to discover five more on the road while you drive it home from the car lot.
Especially common among first-time homebuyers, buyer remorse can leave you questioning your decision. You think, “This is such an expensive purchase! I’ll be tied into a loan for years.” And then, “What if you have to sell in a couple years? Will I lose money? What if there’s a better house that we’ve missed seeing?” What if… What if… What if…
Buyer remorse is natural, and your real estate agent won’t be angered if you have questions and fears. Go ahead and call! He or she will be able to help you regain perspective and feel calmer.
There are just a few things that you have to take care of between now and the time you accept your new keys. Your Realtor, title agent, and lender will take care of most of the necessary steps, but there are a few things you must do yourself.
First, get a home inspection done if you plan to have one. While this might not be necessary on newly constructed homes, sometimes hidden problems can be uncovered even on a brand new structure. George M., for instance, decided to hire an inspector for the house he purchased even though it was not quite completed. The inspector discovered that although there was a drainage grate for the mechanical room, there was no drain! George’s air conditioner, washing machine, and hot water heater would have flooded his basement if they ever had problems because the water wouldn’t be carried away from the finished family room.
Older homes may have delayed maintenance or hidden damage that an inspection can uncover. Kathy R. hired an inspector who discovered a problem with the septic tank. Kathy requested repairs that the seller agreed to provide. She was lucky, because the inspection would have cost her over $4,000 if she’d paid it.
Follow your lender’s instructions for providing paperwork they need right away. Delays can prevent you from getting your house! At a minimum, you’ll be asked to provide proof of your income and identification, and often you’ll have to pay for a home appraisal up front. (That way, if you don’t close for any reason, the lender won’t be left owing the appraiser.)
Next, locate an insurance policy for your new home. You won’t have to pay for it when you order it, but you’ll need to be able to describe the home thoroughly. The agent will probably ask you for the square footage, the age of the property, whether it has a basement or not (if it’s an unfinished basement, you will want to make sure they know this to save money on the quote), what kind of electrical wiring it has if it’s an older property, and the kind of floor coverings it has. They may ask about where the nearest fire hydrant is located, whether there are any smoke detectors or security systems, too. Finally, even if the home is not in a flood plain, they may ask if you want to pay for flood damage, because your policy will not cover damage from burst pipes without it.
Home warranties can often provide a supplement to insurance that is worthwhile. These policies normally do cover burst pipes, as well as electrical problems, appliances that stop working, and heating and air conditioning systems. For additional fees, they may also cover swimming pools, septic systems, and more.
Your homeowner policy will normally be paid for at closing, as will a home warranty if you are paying for it yourself. You’ll pay for a full year, plus a couple months extra for your escrow account, for your owner’s policy. Home warranties are generally paid for one year at a time.
Finally, arrange your utility turn-on dates as you near your closing date.
That’s it. Your real estate agent should review your appraisal and title work with you, instruct you on how much to bring to closing and where the closing will take place, and conduct a final walk-through on the house to ensure it’s clean and in the same general condition it was in when you made your offer. These steps are not required by law in all states, however, so don’t be afraid to request them if your agent doesn’t bring them up directly.
Even though purchasing a home is a huge step, it’s not a complicated one when you understand clearly what steps you need to take. There will probably be a few stressful snags along the way, but your Realtor should be well equipped to handle most of them. Before you know it, you’ll be the proud owner of your new home.
By Kathy Batesel