Selling Your Home PART FOUR: From Offer to Contract to Close
Posted January 15th, 2016 by Clarissa Gregg

Once you’re on the market, of course, the goal is to get an offer that can turn into a purchase agreement. If you’ve priced appropriately to the market, listening to the recommendations of your agent and your Moving Station Personal Relocation Manager, then it shouldn’t take too long to receive an offer!
The offer is simply a buyer saying, in writing, that they’d like to purchase your home, and they are proposing paying a specific dollar amount for it. Keep in mind that while you are hoping to sell your home for as much as possible, the buyer is hoping to pay as little as possible. Therefore, it’s likely that the offer is going to be lower than you hoped for. However, it is almost always advisable to propose a counteroffer – a figure that’s somewhat closer to the price you want to receive – even if the offer is considerably lower than your asking price. Most buyers who write offers are genuinely interested in purchasing your home, but they want to ‘test the waters’ on pricing. They are expecting you to counter. Hopefully, you and the buyer can come to an agreement somewhere in between.
Once you’ve signed a purchase agreement, that is a legally binding contract, and it means that, in a few more weeks, you will no longer own this property! Most of your work toward selling the home is done now. However, there are still a few things that have to happen before the closing takes place.
First, the buyer is going to be ordering a home inspection. The home inspector will come and investigate every visible aspect of your home, inside and out, looking for flaws or safety concerns. It is their job to find problems! You do not need to be present for the home inspection, but you do need to make the property available. Your real estate agent can help you with this process.
Once the buyer has received the inspection report, he or she may ask for certain repairs, or for a credit at closing to handle the repair themselves. This is another negotiation. Even if your purchase agreement states that the home is sold “as-is,” certain situations – particularly safety or structural concerns – need to be addressed in order to keep the deal intact. In some cases, the buyer cannot get financing or insurance until these items are remedied.
If the buyer is applying for a mortgage in order to purchase the home, then the lending institution is going to order an appraisal. The bank has a vested interest in making sure the home is worth the amount of the loan. The appraiser determines the value by comparing recently sold properties to your property – similar to the analyses that were done when you first met with agents recommended by your Moving Station Personal Relocation Manager. Ideally, the appraisal will come back at or above the purchase price you’ve agreed upon. If the appraised value is less than the purchase agreement, the buyer might have the resources to compensate for the difference, but more likely will ask you to accept a lower price. Keep in mind that their ability to purchase your home depends upon this loan. If you say ‘no’ to a lower price, the deal is over.
One question we are asked frequently is whether homeowners need a real estate attorney. This varies from state to state, and sometimes from region to region within a state. Your real estate agent can advise you on what is typical for the area. In most markets, the purchase agreements are standardized enough that attorneys do not need to be involved unless mandated by law. However, if there is something unusual about the transaction, or you just feel more comfortable having a lawyer involved, that decision is yours to make.
Typically, it takes 6-8 weeks for a buyer to get the mortgage from the bank. However, the inspection and the appraisal take place fairly early in the process. So, once the inspection and appraisal are handled, there’s very little that can interfere with the sale taking place. This is the time you’ll want to spend packing and notifying the utility companies of your upcoming move!
A day or two before the closing date, the buyer will come through for the final inspection. This is just a quick check to make sure that you are leaving the home in the condition in which they agreed to purchase it. Once the buyers are satisfied that you haven’t made any material changes to the property, you’ll meet again at the closing table. In some cases, it isn’t even necessary for sellers to attend closings – your real estate agent can help you sign the documents early, and be present on your behalf. Then you can go on to enjoy your new lifestyle!

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