Accept an Offer and Get Your Home Sold
Congratulations, you are on getting your home sold! Be sure to follow your Realtor's advice so that escrow and settlement go as smoothly as possible.
The period that you are "in escrow" is the time between when a contract is ratified and when the transfer of title is recorded. The standard escrow period is often 30 days, but may be longer or shorter depending on how quickly each of the required escrow tasks can be completed.
By the time you have opened escrow, you have come to an agreement with the buyer on the closing date and the contingencies. During escrow, each contingency specified in the contract must be completed satisfactorily. Each contract is different, but most include the following contingencies:
- Inspection contingency: typically the buyer has 5-10 days to conduct all the inspections they desire on the property. The most common is a formal inspection by a licensed inspection agent, who will provide the buyer a full report of the property. They’ll have until the inspection contingency deadline to decide if they would like to move forward, ask you for repairs or a credit so they can make repairs, or cancel the contract
- Financing contingency: once the contract is signed, the buyer has a specified period of time to secure funding. If, for any reason, they are unable to secure funding during the period of time granted by the contract, you can choose to allow them more time or force them to remove the contingency. They will then decide to take their chances on getting a loan or cancel the contract. If they’re getting a loan, they must provide proof from the loan officer that confirms they’ll be able to get a loan for that property. In lender terms, this means going through the underwriting process
- A requirement that the seller must provide marketable title: The third party company handling escrow will run a comprehensive title check and send you a report that confirms the title exists, you are legally allowed to transfer title, and whether any judgements or liens exist that will need to be paid off before closing. Once all of those boxes are checked, the title is considered “clear” and can be transferred. You will need deal with any legal issues that come up as a result of the title search.
Now that you’ve cleared the inspection contingencies, you’re clear to move to closing. In the remaining time before the closing date, your Realtor and the Title company will get paperwork finalized, the lender will button up the buyer’s loan, and you’ll receive a preliminary closing statement that will detail all costs associated with the sale, including how much money you are expected to net.
There are several steps you should take in this period to set you up for a smooth transition:
Schedule Movers. Once you’ve cleared the contingencies in the contract, it’s time to start packing up and schedule moving day. Make sure you have a plan for where boxes are going, and where you’re going to live once the house sells
Cancel utilities accounts. Contact local utility companies (water/sewer/garbage, electric, internet, cable, telephone) to schedule a shut-off time for utilities on closing day. Make sure to give them a forwarding address for your final bill
Forward your mail. Submit a mail forwarding notice to the local post office so you’ll receive all your mail at your new home
Make sure to leave the home in contract condition. While you’re packing and clearing the house out, make sure you’re cognizant of the inclusions & exclusions you agreed to in the contract. Don’t remove anything that is permanently affixed to the walls (light fixtures etc) unless specified in the contract, and if there’s any damage while moving, get it repaired. Make sure all repairs specified in the home inspection addendum are completed before the buyer’s final walk-through
You've made it! After signing the mountains of paperwork at closing and picking up the keys and garage door opener, the house is yours! Several days later, the property title change will officially be recorded, and then you’ll be the proud owner of a new home. Congratulations!