My home is under contract – What are my next steps?
You have made it through the negotiations and accepted an offer on your home. Now, your Realtor® is going to really get to work! This part of the home sales process is one of the toughest. There are many things during this critical period that can go the wrong direction without careful attention (and a little bit of crossed fingers).
Usually within the first week, the buyers agent will schedule inspections requested by the buyer. You can usually expect the buyer to have a home inspection and pest inspection but you may also see a septic inspection, well inspection/water test, radon test and a survey. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect with each one:
- Home Inspection: A licensed home inspector selected by the buyer will come to your home and spend between 2 to 4 hours checking out your home for problems. They will be looking at just about everything and especially focusing on safety items. The big items are the roof, electrical, plumbing, the heating/AC system, structure, insulation, windows/doors and siding. They will check for any red flags like water intrusion, mold, rot and damage. They will also check to make sure appliances are operational, plumbing fixtures work properly, windows and doors open and close, light fixtures work and fireplaces function. Most inspectors are not concerned with small cosmetic issues. They are there to make sure the home is safe and items are functioning as intended.
- Pest inspection: A licensed termite inspector will come out and carefully inspect the perimeter of the home, the basement/crawlspace, garage and interior, paying close attention to wood that may be in contact with the ground. They are especially focusing on damaged wood caused by termite tunnels.
- Septic Inspections: For homes that have their own septic system, it is highly recommended that a buyer have a septic inspection to make sure the system is operating properly. The tank and leach field will be checked along with any alarms and pumps.
- Well inspection/water test: If the buyer is obtaining a government loan, a water test may be required by the lender. The buyer will also want to ensure the pump is working properly and the water is safe to drink. A small sample will be taken and sent to a lab for testing with results in 2-4 days.
- Radon test: Radon is a gas that comes up from the ground and can be trapped in your home that can cause many health problems. Radon testing has become more popular in recent years and many areas are prone to radon. It is often seen in homes with basements and many buyers will spend the extra money to have this testing done. Radon can be mitigated but can be costly in some cases.
- Survey: Some buyers may want a survey done to identify the boundaries of the property and to ensure there are no encroachments. They will research records for any right of ways or easements and verify acreage.
After all inspections have been completed, the buyers will go through all the reports and may come back to you to ask for items to be repaired or replaced. This is all done during the Due Diligence period in North Carolina. The buyer can ask for repairs, replacements or re-negotiate the contract and the seller will have a decision to make. You can agree to some or all of the repairs or choose not to make any repairs. These requests and negotiations can become very heated and emotional and many contracts have fallen apart at this point. As a seller, one way you can make the inspections less stressful is to have inspections done before you list your home and be aware of any items that need to be repaired and then either fix them or let the buyer know upfront the asking price reflects known repairs that are needed. If termites are found or past damage, you may have no choice but to treat your home as the buyers lender may not finance the home without it. If your water test comes back with unacceptable results, you many need to treat your well and have a new test done and if Radon gas is found in high levels, you will probably be asked to have it mitigated by a professional.
During this time, the buyer will be working with their lender to move the loan forward. An appraiser will contact you to schedule a time to come out and appraise your home for the buyers lender. Make sure you have looks it’s best to showcase it’s features for the appraiser. If the appraisal comes back too low, you will have another decision to make. The buyer will most likely want to renegotiate the price of the home to match the market.
Due Diligence Date:
In NC, the buyer has up to this date to do all their “due Diligence” for the home. They must ensure their inspections are done, all paperwork has been reviewed, financing is on track and they still want to purchase the property. The can ask for an extension of the Due Diligence date but the seller is not required to give an extension. This date is critical as the buyer is saying “I am buying this house for sure” after this date.
You have most likely been packing your home for the big move, but now the date is getting real close and you need to ensure you will have everything out before the final walk-thru and closing. Be sure the home is cleaned out and cleaned up to avoid any delays. The buyer will come out the day before or before closing to ensure the home is still in the same or better condition as it was when they first saw it.
The buyer will have selected a closing attorney (North Carolina is an attorney state) to perform the closing. You will normally have a settlement statement or closing disclosure a couple days in advance of the close. This allows you to review all the numbers and make sure everything is correct. This will help avoid any last minute delays or problems but don’t be surprised if you don’t see one until you are sitting at the closing table. On the close date, attend the closing, bring your id’s, keys, remotes and anything else the buyer may need. You will go over the closing disclosure again and sign the seller documents and then will most likely be asked to leave. You do not need to stay while the buyer signs their loan documents. The attorney will give the keys to the buyer when the deed is recorded. Any funds you may be expecting will be disbursed after recording also.
My Best Tip: Be patient, be flexible and expect repair requests or delays. In almost every transaction these days, there is almost always something that comes up that will try your patience but your agent will help you through the rough spots and get you to the end.
Other titles in the seller series:
Article #1: Seller Questions Answered – A preview to Listing your home for Sale
Article #2: What do I need to do to prepare my home for sale?
Article #3: Why do I need an Real Estate agent and how do I select one?
Article #4: I have signed the paperwork, now what? -What to expect during the listing period
Article #5: A buyer wants to see my home -How can I maximize showing opportunities?
Article #6: I have received an offer – now what?
Article #7: My home is under contract – What are the next steps?
Article #8: What can I do to prepare for my move?
Article #9: What can I expect at the closing table?
Article #10: What happens after my home is SOLD?
Sonya Leonard –Keller Williams Realty – Statesville/Mooresville NC. Sonya Leonard Homes provides free access to individualized home searches for all homes in Statesville, Mooresville, Troutman, Lake Norman and the entire Lake Norman Area. Explore buyer and seller reports, community resources, new home communities, and be sure to sign up for instant alerts to help find your dream home. Let Sonya help you INVEST in Real Estate and your Future! (704) 450-0588.