Understanding the Real Estate Process

For Buyers

There’s nothing quite as powerful as the feeling of home. Buying a house is an exciting process, no matter if you are a first-time homebuyer or have gone through the process many times. Home buying can also be stressful if you enter into it without being prepared.

But if you’re curious about the home buying process, you’ve come to the right place. Coldwell Banker Wallace & Wallace agents have the experience, knowledge and understanding to help you along the way to the home you’re dreaming of.

If you’re approaching the home buying process, here is a checklist that might be helpful to you as you conduct your home search, negotiate and close on your new home.

Mortgage pre-approval: Before you ever look at properties, it’s good to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Your mortgage professional will help assess your credit as well as explore different types of mortgages that might work for you. They will also help determine the best rates and programs.

Think about your needs & wants: What features are you looking for in a home? Do you know which neighborhood or area you might want to live in? Consider style, size, price, and location as you are beginning your home search. Other things to think about are schools, traffic, zoning and work commutes.

Check out properties online and in person: Your agent can create custom searches for you to help weed out properties that don’t meet your needs/wants. He or she will also show you various properties in person to see which ones might be a good fit.

Prepare the offer and negotiate: Once you’ve decided on a property, your agent will help you make an offer and negotiate on your behalf.

Get a home inspection: Often, purchase offers are contingent on a home inspection of the property. Your agent will probably arrange for an inspection to take place after your offer is accepted by the seller. A home inspector will check for signs of structural damage or issues around the home that may need fixing.

Have the home appraised: Your lender will arrange for an appraiser to provide an independent estimate of the home’s value. The appraiser, who is not directly associated with the lender, will let all the parties involved know that you are paying a fair price for the home.

Handle the paperwork: There is a great deal of paperwork involved in buying a house. Your agent will provide you with choices for a title company to handle the important legal paperwork and make sure that the seller is the rightful owner of the house you are buying.

Close the sale on your new home: Before closing, you will have a walk-through inspection to make sure everything is as it should be in the home. At the closing, you will sign all of the paperwork required to complete the purchase of your new home. This includes your loan documents. Once the check is delivered to the seller, you are ready to move into your new home!


For Sellers: Pre-Closing and Closing Checklist

There are a number of details that must be addressed between the signing of the final contract and the closing date. If you are using a real estate agent, your responsibilities will be dramatically reduced during this process. The following list will help you stay organized:

Immediately upon acceptance of the contract

  • Follow-up on any terms outlined in the contract (providing homeowner association paperwork, clearance letters, etc.)
  • Make any repairs included in the contract
  • Provide the current mortgage loan(s) information and/or equity line of credit information to your agent (this should include your account numbers, contact information for the lender(s) and your personal information)

During the Home Inspection

  • You should not be onsite, but your real estate agent may be there as your representative
  • If possible, be accessible by phone to answer any questions
  • Provide your agent with keys to any areas (crawlspaces, attics, etc) that the inspector will need to access
  • If the property is currently vacant, ensure that all utilities are on prior to the inspection

One to Two Weeks Following the Acceptance Date of the Contract

  • Review any inspection amendment from the buyer with your agent and begin making agreed repairs
  • Provide your agent with your preferred closing time
  • Reserve your moving truck or schedule your moving service
  • If contractually obligated to provide a termite clearance letter, you should call the company that provided your initial letter prior to listing (this must be done no more 30 days before closing)

Two Weeks Before Closing Date

  • Get a change of address package from the post office
  • Begin notifying family, friends, debtors, etc of address change
  • Begin collecting information to pass on to the new owner (receipts for appliances, warranty information, owner’s manuals, repair and contractor contact information and dates of service)

One Week Before Closing

  • Call your utility companies to schedule the final readings and the disconnect dates
  • Get directions to closing attorney’s office from your real estate agent
  • Collect receipts and information in relation to the work done to satisfy the inspection amendment and give copies to your real estate agent

Day Before Closing

  • Review the HUD 1 Settlement Agreement to verify that the terms of the contract are correct and pay special attention to the line items for water bills, homeowner association dues, and mortgage balances
  • If you have any concerns, discuss them with your agent
  • If there is a chance of any dispute, your agent will advise you to bring proof of payment to the closing

Day of Closing

  • Bring a photo ID and any documents requested by the closing attorney or either real estate agent
  • Bring your checkbook, just in case there is a small item that needs to be handled on the spot (this is usually not necessary, but it’s always nice to have that option)
  • Bring updated termite clearance letter, if required by contract
  • Give the new owner your forwarding address and phone number in case anything is accidentally sent to you at the old address