Offer Accepted: What's Next?

Congratulations on taking the exciting step toward owning your first home! Here are some tips to ensure a smooth journey through escrow and settlement, guided by your Realtor®.

Down Payment: You'll need to make a down payment on your new home. While you can decide how much to put down based on your mortgage terms, remember that a larger down payment means lower monthly mortgage payments and a quicker payoff.

Escrow and Settlement: You'll work with an escrow or settlement company (In Georgia we use real estate attorneys), which acts as a neutral third party holding your deposit and coordinating the necessary activities during escrow. Your deposit check, which might be held by an attorney or in the broker's trust account, must be backed by sufficient funds. This check will be cashed and applied to your home’s purchase price. If the sale falls through, you might get your deposit back minus any cancellation fees, but sometimes the seller can keep it as liquidated damages. Consult your attorney about including a liquidated damages clause in your contract.

Escrow Period: Typically around 30 days, but it can vary. During this time, you'll need to complete all contract-specified items. Here’s a checklist:

1. Inspection Contingency: Schedule and complete the home inspection promptly. Unsatisfactory results might lead you to cancel the contract.
2. Financing Contingency: Secure your mortgage within the given timeframe. If funding isn’t secured and the seller doesn’t extend the deadline, you can either remove the contingency and risk not getting a loan or cancel the contract.
3. Marketable Title: Review the title report with an attorney or title officer to ensure the title is clear of legal issues. Comply with local and state property transfer ordinances.
4. Homeowner's Insurance: Apply for insurance early, as it might be required before closing, especially in areas needing special coverage like fire or earthquake insurance.
5. Utilities: Schedule utility services to start upon closing escrow.
6. Final Walk-Through: Ensure the property matches the contract specifications. Verify that fixtures and features are as expected.

Once everything is completed and the sale is closed, you’ll be the proud owner of your new home. Congratulations!