In Contract & Escrow: Now What?
Congratulations, you are on your way to owning your very own home! Follow these suggestions (and your Realtor's advice) so that can get from contract to closing smoothly with no bumps along the way.
You will be asked for a down payment on the home you are purchasing. You can choose to put down as much or as little as you want (depending on your mortgage), but remember, the more you put down toward the total price of your home, the less time it will take you to pay off and the less your mortgage payments will be every month.
During this period of purchasing your home, you will work with your agent to make sure all deadlines are followed and we work through any contingencies. Your escrow or deposit check will be cashed and likely held by your brokerage in a trust account or by your attorney in an escrow account. It will be released to the seller's attorney when we have a contingency-free deal and plan to close.
When you are ready to close, this escrow money will be applied to the purchase price of the home. If for any reason the sale is not consummated, you may be entitled to receive all of your deposit back, less standard cancellation fees. In certain instances, the seller may be able to retain this money as liquidated damages. Prior to executing a purchase contract, it would be wise to speak with your counsel about your legal exposure.
1. The period that you are "in escrow" is often 30 days, but may be longer or shorter. During this time, each item specified in the contract must be completed satisfactorily. By the time you have deposited escrow, you have come to an agreement with the seller on the closing date and the contingencies. Each contract is different, but most include Inspection contingency: this should be completed as soon as possible after the contract to purchase is signed as unsatisfactory results of the inspection may mean that you will want to cancel the contract.
2. Financing contingency: Once the contract is signed, you have a period of time to secure funding. If, for any reason, you are unable to secure funding during the period of time granted to you by the contract (and the seller will not provide a written extension of time), you must decide whether you want to remove the contingency and take your chances on getting a loan. You may choose to cancel the purchase contract.
3. A requirement that the seller must provide clean title. With an attorney or title specialist, review the title report. The title must be "clear" to ensure that you do not have legal issues regarding your ownership. Check into local and state ordinances regarding property transfer and make sure that you and/or the seller have complied with them.
4. Secure homeowner's insurance. This will probably be required before you can close the sale. Due to such requirements as special fire and earthquake insurance, obtaining this insurance may require a lengthy period of time. It would be in your best interest to apply for insurance as soon as possible after the contract is signed.
5. Contact local utility companies to schedule to have service turned on when you close escrow.
6. Schedule the final walk-through inspection. At this time, you should make sure that the property is exactly as the contract says it should be. What you thought to be a "permanently attached" chandelier that would come with the property might have been removed by the seller and replaced with a different fixture entirely.
Your agent will have your back and make sure you follow all the steps and stay on schedule. Once the sale has closed, you're the proud owner of a new home. Congratulations!