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The Ultimate Timeline for Closing on a House for Buyers

Having an accepted offer is an exciting time, but your work as a home buyer is not done. It’s time to move through closing. You need to understand the closing on a house timeline and what steps to take. Here’s what you need to know.
Having an accepted offer is an exciting time, but your work as a home buyer is not done. It’s time to move through closing. You need to understand the closing on a house timeline and what steps to take. Here’s what you need to know.

Your offer has been accepted — congratulations! Now you’re probably excited to finish closing and move in. However, it will take some time.

You may be frustrated by the length of time closing takes, but the truth is it helps protect you even more than the seller. You need your mortgage finalized, and even more importantly you need to fulfill contingencies like inspections.

Looking for a professional to walk you through the home buying and closing process? Clever can help. Our Partner Agents have the experience you need to have a smooth experience. Contact us for more information today.

The First Week: Escrow Account, Title, and Inspection

Once your offer was accepted, you should take a moment to celebrate. But not too long — the first thing to do is open an escrow account and schedule an inspection right away.

An escrow account is a financial account where all money and important documents are kept safe by a third party. That way you know nothing will happen to your down payment or other information before closing.

You want to choose a highly-qualified inspector so that you get accurate information, but keep in mind that you may have only one week to complete the inspection. If you don’t follow through in the appropriate time frame, you can’t use the inspection contingency to exit the deal if serious problems are found.

Finally, you’ll need to investigate the title. A title company will generally take care of this for a fee. The title search ensures no one else has any legal claim to the home.

At this point, it’s been seven days since your accepted offer. What’s next?

Week Two: Finalize the Purchase Agreement

Once the inspection is complete, you need to negotiate the final purchase agreement. This is where you need a buyer’s agent who’s a strong negotiator so that you can get specific fixes done or concessions made for issues the inspector found.

Once you sign the final agreement, it’s time to move forward and get your mortgage finalized.

Week Three: Mortgage Appraisal

Next, the mortgage company takes over. This is the longest part of the closing process, and it involves a lot of waiting. The first thing that happens is that the mortgage company will order an appraisal on the home.

The lender will only approve a mortgage that is the amount of the appraisal. So if the appraisal is below the sales price, additional negotiation may be required. If you still want the home, you’ll need to get a lower price or pay the difference yourself.

In some cases you may be able to appeal a low appraisal or present documentation that the appropriate price should be higher.

Week 4–6: Final Mortgage Approval

Once the appraisal is finished, the mortgage company will do internal paperwork to give final approval for your mortgage. You’ll also remove all contingencies as they are satisfied.

If the mortgage is approved early, you still need to wait until the closing date in the contract unless the seller agrees to close earlier. Remember, the seller is getting ready to move and may be waiting for their own closing on a new home, so they may not have a lot of flexibility. However, it never hurts to ask.

At the Closing Table

Once you do a final walkthrough, what can a buyer expect at the closing table? This depends somewhat on what state you live in, but in general you, your realtor, the seller, and the seller’s agent will all meet at an office. It may be the lender’s office, title company, or an attorney’s office.

You will need to sign all final paperwork and provide your down payment. Depending on the state, you’ll deposit your down payment amount into the escrow account or bring a cashier’s check. Once the documents have all been signed, the keys are handed over.

Congratulations, you have a new home!

Choosing the Right Buyer’s Agent

Of course, knowing what to do after an accepted offer is only a small part of the puzzle. You also have to find a home you love in a neighborhood you enjoy. That home has to be priced at a level that you can afford, and you need to negotiate appropriate timelines and contingencies.

Unless you’re a professional realtor, you don’t want to face all of that alone. You need a skilled full-service agent on your side. They’ll understand the market and can tell you the best time to start looking for a home. They can connect you with homes as soon as they hit the market and help you work through a multiple-offer situation or other obstacles you face.

A Clever Partner Agent can provide all of that and more. A Partner Agent is top-rated in their market and fully understand the area you’re buying in. Not only can they provide the service you deserve, but you may also qualify for a $1,000 cash rebate toward your closing costs.

Ready to get started? Contact Clever to schedule a no-obligation consultation with an agent today.

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Reuven Shechter

Reuven Shechter is the Outreach Coordinator at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents to help save on commission. He spreads the word about Clever, disseminating studies to journalists and developing relationships with media outlets. Reuven is passionate about investing in real estate and creating lasting success for families. His writing has been featured in Max Real Estate Exposure, Leverage Marketing, and more.

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