When you are ready to buy your first (or second, or third) home, it’s important that you know what to expect throughout the home closing process, and how working with an experienced real estate attorney helps keep the process running smoothly and protects your rights and interests at every turn.
Most times, when a purchase agreement is made, there are contingencies involved, and the responsibility to clear many of them falls on the buyer’s side of the equation. For example, an inspector of the buyer’s choosing should do a home inspection. This gives you, as the buyer, a clear picture of the state of the house and property and lets you know whether you need to negotiate with the seller for repairs or credit, or, in some cases, whether you may need to pull out of the sale entirely. These are cases where you’ll benefit from having a real estate attorney already on your team, because they can help you negotiate a fair arrangement with the seller.
Other typical contingencies that are part of the home closing process include:
- Appraisal Contingencies – A third-party appraiser evaluates the fair market value of the home and property, to verify that the value is in line with the selling price. If the appraised value is lower than the selling price, the buyer has an opportunity to back out of the sale without sacrificing any of the “earnest money” they have put down.
- Financing Contingency – If, for some reason, your mortgage financing falls through for the sale, the financing contingency offers some protection. The sales agreement specifies a period of time during which you can pull out of the deal without penalty, if your loan falls through and you can’t find another.
- Settlement Contingency – In cases where the buyer is also under contract to sell their current home, they may arrange for a settlement contingency as part of the sales contract for the home they’re buying. If you’re selling your current home, you already have a buyer under contract, and the home inspection contingency has already been removed, a settlement contingency on the property you’re contracting to buy protects you in case the sale of your current home falls through.
Title Search & Insurance
Your mortgage lender will require that you purchase title insurance, to protect you (and your lender) against legal claims from parties that didn’t turn up in the title search. Even if you’re making a cash purchase, title insurance may be a smart investment. In either case, getting a reliable title search from a reputable party goes a long way toward preventing nasty surprises over the claimed ownership of the property.
Once the title is clear, your lender will process your home loan through a process called underwriting. Essentially, this is where the lender verifies that all of the information you provided in your application is correct, and that your situation hasn’t changed significantly since you made the application.
Once your loan is underwritten, the lender will provide you a closing disclosure, which spells out the terms of the loan, exact payments, and closing costs.
A Real Estate Attorney Is Your Best Advocate
From your offer to your final walk-through and final closing meeting, a real estate attorney from Overstreet, Miles, Finkenbinder & Bondy will help you avoid costly mistakes and omissions, and take a proactive role in protecting your interests throughout the home closing process. Call or contact us online for a consultation and to put one of our knowledgeable attorneys to work for you.