Getting an offer on your home is an exhilarating and overwhelming experience, all at once. Whether your home has been on the market for 6 days or 6 months, an offer usually means you and your broker have been doing something (or many things) right, be it the broker’s flawless marketing, an attractive price or a renovation that really paid off. However, just because you have an offer in hand, doesn’t mean your home-selling experience has come to an end. On the contrary, an accepted offer is only the beginning of the sale. As William Tierney, a William Raveis associate on the Cape, wrote this wonderful guest post detailing a “Post Accepted Offer Checklist.” As you’ll see, there are several to-do items following the accepted offer you and your broker have been waiting for. For more awesome real estate tips from William Tierney, check out his blog.
So you have accepted and offer on your home, now what?
Having just accepted an offer on your home is a great and exciting feeling. You have obviously worked hard to arrive at this point in the sales process. Without a doubt, you have put in some considerable effort to prepare your home for the market, and anxiously waited through numerous showings. Now you have an accepted offer. Congratulations.
I often tell both my buyers and sellers that once we have an accepted offer, we have only achieved a first down, and we have a lot of field to cover before we get the ball over the goal line. This sports analogy is a clear picture to help both my buyers and sellers focus on the next steps in the home purchase or sale process. Coming to terms on price is a great first step, but it just that, the first step. There are several hurdles to overcome before achieving the ultimate goal of closing on the purchase or sale of the home. Below I have assembled a Post Accepted Offer Check List of items to address to help insure an orderly transaction process.
Engage a Real Estate Attorney
One of the first items I recommend both my buyers or sellers to do is to engage a Real Estate Attorney. This is close to a “must do” item on the Post Accepted Offer Check List. I do highlight that one hire an attorney who specializes in Real Estate transactions, as they are usually staffed for such transactions, and having done such transactions, they can do them in a timely manner.
Real estate transactions are completed in a two step contract process. First is the Offer To Purchase, and the second is the Purchase and Sale Agreement. Both are legally binding contracts. The Offer To Purchase simply states that a more formal contract to purchase will follow covering the transaction’s details in greater detail. With the various nuances of a real estate transaction, it is simply wise to seek qualified legal guidance to ensure your interests are protected fairly.
Start The Clean Out
My sellers hear me beg them to clear the clutter from my initial appointment that I have with them back when they are considering selling their home. I have often told sellers to clear as much clutter out of their home as possible prior to listing their home. But once a seller has accepted an offer, it really is time to begin the moving process. I remind all my sellers that a top item on my Post Accepted Offer Check List is that every home has more contents than the seller believes they have in their home. Once you have accepted and offer, start packing, and cleaning out your home to ready it for the closing. This process is usually, and almost always, underestimated in terms of time and effort. The sooner the seller starts this process, the better the process proceeds.
Schedule Your Fire Safety Inspection
One of the items on my Post Accepted Offer Check List is to remind sellers in that the law requires every home have working and functional smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The actual nuances of this law vary depending on the size and age of the home being sold.
Since each town’s fire prevention officer may have a different interperation of the requirements of the law, it can make good sense to have a pre-inspection by a member of the local fire department. This can assist the seller to know which types of detectors should be located at which locations in the home being sold. And thus, make for a simple inspection at some point later.
It is the seller’s responsibility to comply with this law. Typically a certificate of inspection is required to be presented at the closing table by the seller. This certificate is usually good for 60 days, so it can make good sense to order this inspection well in advance of the anticipated closing date.
Order a Final Sewer and Water Reading
For those homes that have either town water or sewer, or both, there is a need to obtain a final sewer and water reading. The best time to schedule this reading is two or three weeks prior to the anticipated closing date. It is easy to reschedule such a reading should a reading need to be moved further in the calendar, but quite often it can be hard to get a reading done at the last minute. When it comes to cost, this is an item that is typically accounted for on the HUD settlement statement where the buyer is credited the amount of water and/or sewer charges that the seller may have used up to the closing date if the local municipality is between billing periods. This is often the forgotten item on the Post Accepted Offer Check List.
Order a Final Utility Reading
If your town has a municipal electrical system, a final utility reading may be required. Municipally owned utility systems can file a lien on the property serviced for unpaid utility bills. This can delay a closing. So if you have a property being sold in a town with a municipally owned electrical system, be sure to order a final reading and account for it on the HUD settlement statement or have the seller settle the final bill and bring a receipt to the closing.
If you can check off each of the above items on the Post Accepted Offer Check List in a timely fashion, then your closing will most likely proceed much smoother and will less stress and last minute run around.