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Do you know enough about purchasing a home? - III

In a series of ongoing posts, we've been providing an in-depth look at the home-buying process, something that can seem intimidating and a bit abstruse to those who have never taken this momentous step.

In today's post, we'll conclude this discussion, examining the final steps that a person will likely have to take before they will be handed the keys to their dream home.

Have you had the offer to purchase reviewed?

As we discussed last time, once you and the seller agree on a price, their agent -- not yours -- will draft an offer to purchase complete with an estimated closing date. It's important, however, not to simply sign this document.

Indeed, experts indicate that it's a very good idea to have an attorney or, at the very least, your agent review the contract to ensure that it calls for the sale to be contingent upon the following:

  • A passing home inspection (i.e., no major defects)
  • A guarantee that a walk-through inspection can be conducted 24 hours prior to closing
  • Your ability to secure a mortgage  

The contract may call for you to make a good-faith deposit into an escrow account, typically 1 to 10 percent of the purchase price. This money will not go to the buyer, however, until after the deal is closed and will be returned to you should any of the contingency clauses fail to be satisfied.

Were you able to secure financing?

Once the offer to purchase is signed, the first order of business is lining up a mortgage through your bank or broker. At this juncture, important decisions will have to be made concerning the terms of the mortgage (fixed versus adjustable rate, etc.). In addition, the bank will likely run a credit check and perform an appraisal, both of which will cost you, the homebuyer, anywhere from $200 to $375.

It may be advisable to start examining your options relating to homeowners' insurance at this time, as this is a prerequisite for many home loans.

What did the inspection turn up?   

Another vital step that should be taken during this time is having an inspection performed by a home inspector of your choosing. While this can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000 depending on the size of the job, it will enable you to learn much more about the condition of your would-be home, including whether it has major problems.

If such problems are uncovered, your agent or attorney can take the issue back to the seller, asking them to fix the problem prior to your moving in or deducting the cost of repair from the final price. In the event the seller proves unwilling to fix the problem, you do have the option of walking away penalty-free.

Are you ready to close the deal?

While some may argue that the closing is strictly pro forma, consisting of nothing more than signing a never-ending series of forms, this is far from the case. Indeed, every closing is unique and can present certain unforeseen challenges. For this reason, it may be beneficial to have a skilled legal professional who can protect your rights and best interests present.

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